Day one of the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience in New Orleans featured many highlights, including an onstage marriage proposal, a mock guitar solo by an adorable 5-year-old girl, a cover of the Family Ties theme, and a controversial chant of “Free Kevin Gates!” during hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd’s mobbed set. (Rae Sremmurd served as last-minute replacements on the Pepsi Stage for Gates, after Gates was sentenced to 180 days in jail just two days before the festival.)
But the start of the weekend was really all about the Weeknd, aka Abel Tesfaye, who proved that the recent shearing of his signature sculptural hairdo hadn’t had any Samson-like effect on his onstage powers.
Taking the stage in a haze of smoke clouds, laser beams, Asteroids-reminiscent computer graphics, and occasional bursts of stadium-worthy pyro, Tesfaye’s crisp, distinctively trebly voice cut straight through the thick and humid NOLA air as he opened with the spooky slow-jam “The Hills” — followed by his rousingly new-wavey new single, “False Alarm” (off his upcoming third album, Starboy, out Nov. 28).
The euphoric, Michael Jackson-esque club banger “Can’t Feel My Face” was of course the crowd-pleaser of the night. But the swaggering new single “Starboy,” even sans producers Daft Punk (hey, we’re always hoping for a Daft Punk cameo at every festival we attend), was a revelation and an instant festival classic.
Side note: Props to Voodoo’s onstage sign-language interpreters, who really got their groove and gave plenty of attitude during the Weeknd’s set.
— chelsea brasted (@cabrasted) October 29, 2016
Tune in all weekend for Yahoo Music’s Voodoo Music + Arts Experience live stream at yahoo.com/voodoo.