The 7 Best Things We Saw at Voodoo Fest 2019 on Day 1


A few hours after gates opened on the first day of Voodoo Music + Arts Experience on Friday (Oct. 25), rain came pouring down in what the National Hurricane Center identified as Tropical Storm Olga. Yet, thousands of people gathered at New Orleans’ City Park, with some actually excited about the less-than-great festival weather.

“This is f—ing awesome,” one fest-goer said upon entering before ascending onto the wet fest grounds. “I love this shit!”

That was pretty much the vibe everyone in attendance brought on Voodoo’s first day, making for more of a party than a bummer as acts like Brandi Carlile, Interpol and Friday headliner Guns N' Roses rocked out on stage. 

Billboard braved the storm (which was later reclassified as a post-tropical cyclone — either way, it was a wet day) and caught some epic moments. Check out highlights from day one of Voodoo Fest below.

Festgoers’ unwavering Halloween spirit 

With rain in the forecast for the majority of the day, rain gear was pretty necessary for surviving Voodoo day one (by the end of the night, more of the fest grounds were mud pits than grass) — but that didn’t stop people from joining in the costume brigade at the Halloween-inspired festival. Countless fest-goers sported rain boots while dressed as Pikachu, Cindy Lou Who, Wayne from Wayne’s World, Woody and Buzz Lightyear, and a Care Bear, which made for some pretty entertaining ensembles.

Moon Taxi’s audience participation

Despite the sheets of rain that had just come down, the main stage crowd for Moon Taxi was impressive — and not just because of size. Whether it was the rain that made people dance or frontman Trevor Terndrup’s infectious energy (likely a mix of both), fans couldn’t stop moving during their nearly hour-long set, throwing their hands up particularly high for the band’s spot-on cover of 4 Non Blondes’ “What’s Up” and their own sway-along jam “Two High.”

Bishop Briggs’ emo dream come true

Cover songs are certainly not a rarity, especially at a festival, but there may never be an artist more excited to sing a medley of someone else’s hits than Bishop Briggs. Starting out with Twenty One Pilots’ “Stressed Out,” the 27-year-old then busted into Panic! at the Disco’s oldie-but-goodie “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” and closed it out with My Chemical Romance’s “Welcome to the Black Parade.” Briggs’ excited jumping around the stage during each song indicated that these songs meant something to her (like most people her age), but her post-medley comment put the cherry on top: “Thank you for letting me live out my emo dream.”

Brandi Carlile’s special guest

Between her impassioned deliveries of songs like “The Story” and harmonies with her bandmates on “The Eye,” the Americana star wowed during her entire set. But seemingly one of the biggest highlights for Carlile herself was during a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Baby I’m Gonna Leave You,” when she brought out her drummer’s 15-year-old son, who showed off his guitar skills in his first-ever stage performance. “Proud daddy back there on the drums!” she exclaimed after the rocking cover.

Hobo Johnson’s IDGAF attitude

Just listening to one Hobo Johnson song is enough to know he doesn’t take himself too seriously, and that was more than evident during his 7 p.m. set. Though his songs are spoken word-style, Johnson treated the moments in between songs like story time anyway, mostly just adding more witticisms to tunes like “Peach Scone” and “Subaru Crosstrek XV.” But even through the humor, the 24-year-old made sure to send a meaningful message: “It doesn’t matter how fast you can run, how many pushups you can do — that shit’s so 1990s, am I right? Be yourself, be true to who you are.” 

Interpol’s mesmerizing light show

The rock band treated their evening set like it was their own headlining gig, incorporating full-production lighting that featured flashing colors, strobes, spotlights, and even a disco ball for an extra-entrancing light effect. The colorful spectacle was a seamless fit for Interpol’s trancey rock songs like “Rest My Chemistry” and “Slow Hands,” with their roaring electric guitars serving as the perfect tee-up for Guns N' Roses’ headlining set shortly thereafter.


@interpol closing down the Wisner Stage on Day 1 of #VoodooFest. Photos by @rohofoto.

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Guns N' Roses’ full-on rock show

They may be in their 50s, but Guns N' Roses are still rocking the way they did back in their heyday. The legendary group played for almost a full three hours to close out the first night of Voodoo, performing a mix of fan favorites and '80s classics like “Sweet Child of Mine” and “Welcome to the Jungle.” Even their cover songs were high voltage, like Wings’ “Live and Let Die” and Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun.” As fitting visuals of skeletons, lightning bolts, revolvers and fighter jets served as the backdrop for Guns N' Roses’ electrifying performance, occasional firework blasts overhead made for quite the face-melting headlining set — and reminded that even pouring rain can put a damper on a rock show.