There’s nothing like dancing next to a head-banging, red-eyed black unicorn in a fog while Slayer plays “Raining Blood” to celebrate Halloween in New Orleans. Add in a dose of Outkast, Rebirth Brass Band and Zedd, and you have the ingredients for an eclectic, bizarre and incredibly fun Voodoo music festival.
Friday through Sunday, Voodoo fans flocked to a chilly City Park dressed up like lions, skeletons and sexy Orange is the New Black characters to listen to electronic dance music, rap, metal, punk, brass bands and more. There were so many fantastic performances going on simultaneously, it was difficult to choose only 10 highlights, but here’s a look at the top performances Billboard caught at Voodoo:
10. Pretty Lights (Sunday, 7:30 p.m. – Le Plur Stage)
The Le Plur Stage had a strong showing of dancing costumed teenagers throughout the weekend, and the Pretty Lights show was no different. Many of the costumes appropriately incorporated glowing lights as Derek Vincent Smith’s funky music blended with the live brass instruments. Trombonist Dr. Jeff Albert accompanied the band as the light show bounced off the Spanish-moss-covered oak trees.
9. Rise Against (Friday, 6 p.m. – Ritual Stage)
Voodoo’s long lines on Friday were a huge frustration, and many Rise Against fans were very upset to have stood in line so long they missed the political punk band’s stellar performance. Tim McIlrath mixed older songs like “Audience of One” and “Like the Angel” with newer ones from their latest album, The Black Market. The Chicago frontman shouted, “I want to go home and tell my friends there’s a punk scene in New Orleans. Can you scream?”
8. Lauryn Hill‘s Second Performance (Saturday, 10:45PM – Flambeau Stage)
Hill was 45 minutes late to her first performance at 6 p.m. on the Ritual Stage, leading her to get cut off mid-song at 7:15 p.m. Nonetheless, her second set — which she was also 45 minutes late to — was a powerhouse performance. Hill sang “Bang, Bang” and “Doo Wop (That Thing)” to a crowd on a smaller, more intimate stage. “Thank you so much for coming back, y’all,” she told her fans.
7. Bleachers (Friday, 5:45 p.m. – Carnival Stage)
Jack Antonoff and his band were thoroughly entertaining during their set at Voodoo, but no song wowed the crowd more than the finale, “I Wanna Get Better.” The bandmates ran offstage before the song and came back wearing matching Little Orphan Annie outfits. Antonoff took his red dress and wig off and threw it into the crowd.
6. Skrillex (Saturday, 9 p.m. – Le Plur)
The fans dancing at Skrillex’s show didn’t seem to feel the cold wind as he played his set, including a remix of “Turn Down for What.” It was impossible not to jump up and down as he played, and the next day, Dave Grohl revealed he had shown up to watch Skrillex perform. Some teenagers went to the back of the crowd to party under the giant spider statue, giving them more room to dance wildly. The night wasn’t over for Skrillex when this performance ended, though: He reportedly spun on Frenchmen Street during a surprise set at 4 a.m.
5. Twenty One Pilots (Friday, 6 p.m. – Ritual)
Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun opened with “Guns for Hands” wearing head-to-toe black and covering their faces in their signature style. They changed into multiple outfits, crowd-surfed and, for the big finale, ran out through the center of the crowd to climb a tall audio-visual staging area. One of the show’s highlights was their ukulele rendition of Beyonce’s “Drunk in Love.”
4. Outkast (Friday, 9:20 p.m. – Ritual)
Andre 3000 and Big Boi ended their 2014 reunion tour by closing the first night of Voodoo. Neither of the singers made any reference to whether they would be performing together again, but they did thank the crowd for supporting them for “20-plus years.” The audience was full of energy as Outkast played many of their classics, opening with “B.O.B” and closing with “The Whole World.”
3. Rebirth Brass Band (Friday, 8 p.m. – Flambeau)
The New Orleans brass band may have been on a small stage, but their horn sound blasted big and beautifully throughout the night as Slayer played on the main stage nearby. They played both new songs and old, with the crowd going crazy for their hit rendition of “Casanova.” The most Halloween-appropriate song they played was a brass version of the Ghostbusters theme song, which was especially liked by a man wearing a Ghostbusters shirt in the audience.
2. Foo Fighters (Sunday, 6:30 p.m. – Ritual)
Steve Gleason introduced Dave Grohl and his band, and they performed 24 songs for nearly two and a half hours. Grohl announced that, hours earlier, he had been pressured to drink a Mind Eraser with “three old ladies” at a bar in the French Quarter. He brought New Orleans’ Trombone Shorty out on stage with him to perform “This Is a Call” and hugged the musician, saying he would remember this moment for the rest of his life. The band played a new song and a host of classics and covered “Under Pressure,” “Breakdown” and “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love” before closing with “Everlong.”
1. Thirty Seconds to Mars (Saturday, 7:45 p.m. – Ritual)
Jared Leto did an amazing job of interacting with the audience while his band took over the main stage on Saturday night. At one point he stopped mid-song to call out a man in a white hat, asking the spotlight to find him. “You are breaking my heart,” he said, before asking the man to lead the audience in finishing the song. The man obliged enthusiastically. “This is actually going to be our last show in the United States for a very, very, very long time,” said Leto. “Thank you guys for spending time with us. We know you’re probably here for other bands, but thank you.” He asked the crowd to all get on each other’s shoulders, and at the end of the evening, asked for “the crazy ones” to join him, pulling about 30 to 40 fans with him on stage for the confetti-filled finale.