This year’s eighth annual Voodoo Music Experience, which took place Oct. 28-29 at New Orleans’ City Park, drew approximately 93,000 concert-goers, breaking past attendance records, according to Stephen Rehage, the festival’s founder and producer.
Rehage, who also serves as president of New York-based Rehage Entertainment, tells Billboard.biz he is surprised that this year’s Voodoo Music Experience drew as many fans as it did, despite the fact that post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans “still needs a lot of help.”
“It was really surprising for us to come out with an audience of 93,000 people,” Rehage says. “Even though it has gotten a little big better, it’s still in a state of disarray, and there are still a lot of issues.”
Along with headliners Red Hot Chili Peppers and Duran Duran, this year’s event featured performances from the Original Meters, the Flaming Lips, My Chemical Romance, Shooter Jennings, Drive-By Truckers, and many more.
In 2005, the festival was held a mere 60 days after Katrina devastated New Orleans, and only drew about 32,000 fans. “Half the audience was basically carrying machine guns with them,” he says. “It was basically the National Guard and people who were still left in town rebuilding the city.”
“Last year we had no idea whether or not the city was going to exist or what we were going to be dealing with,” he continues. “We took baby steps.”
For now, Voodoo Music Experience organizers are in discussions with New Orleans city officials to keep the festival at City Park for 2007. “Everything has been very positive, and it looks like we’re going to be able to renew the contract for that site,” he says, adding that this year’s event had no parking problems, no arrests and very little noise complaints. “It was the right timing because the city is starting to come back to life a little bit.”
Rehage declined to comment on how much the festival grossed in ticket sales.