Weekend One of the New Orleans Jazz Fest has come to a close. Unlike other festivals, (ahem, Coachella) there’s still so much more to see on Weekend two just because it’s an entirely new lineup. Thought Phish played a long-ass set? Just you wait until Bruce Springsteen takes the stage next Saturday! In the meantime, check out our final awards from Day 3 of Jazz Fest 2014.
Best Drunk Tourist Recommendation: Chocolate Milk
“I hear it’s this studio band that has almost as much material as the Meters,” a rotund drunk tourist told me Saturday night as we overlooked Frenchmen St. on a secluded balcony across from the many venues that dot what hopefully will not become the new Bourbon St. Seriously, tourists. What the fuck. For all that locals complain about tourist season, perennial Jazzfesters are anything if not savvy about their music and the gentleman I spoke with happened to be spot on in his recommendation. Chocolate Milk are as advertised: they’re sweet, almost goofy funk that comes on like a sugar rush and lays it on thick and velvety.
Panty Melter: John Boutte
This may be a mostly men’s site but that doesn’t mean y’all don’t want to hear about panties. It may have been the humidity but it’s far more likely that the sweet croon of New Orleans singer (and now Treme superstar) John Boutte had me and my fellow females damn near verklempt. It’s hard to resist such a tender voice in such an adorable package. And speaking of Treme, Boutte erroneously announced one of his horn players as Wendall Pierce before laughing it off, correcting himself, and within that moment slyly acknowledging his newfound popularity. Swoon.
Most Juvenile (and Best) Brass Band Name: Bonerama
Sorry, Galactic, but once you dropped the Prophylactic at the end of your name, you completely lost in this category. Bonerama has a megabuttload of trombones and is amazingly aptly named: trombonists started the brass funk outfit and the band stays true to that instrument. Wolf tones and loud and proud harmonies showcase a surprising diversity while also proving that Trombone Shorty isn’t the only bone fanatic getting down in the Big Easy.
Biggest Letdown: Navigating through the Clapton crowds
Oh, how I wanted to shoot Clapton. Oh, how I wanted to be one of seven photographers 130 feet (they measured it, apparently) away from the guitar god, camera in hand right next to the soundboard. And oh, how I couldn’t even get three hundred feet from the Acura Stage. Attempting to navigate the crowd of chair folks felt like a restraining order had been slapped on me: no matter what, it was just absolutely impossible to get even remotely close. And probably illegal if I’d tried to dodge and hop over that many people.
Headliner Highlights: Vampire Weekend
Ignore the fangirl screams and Ezra Koenig’s selfie model day job because Vampire Weekend have reached a whole new live level. It’s not the decibels of the throngs of their youthful female fans but the caliber of their instrumentalism. Though the arrangements of Modern Vampires of the City are still rather sparse, they make their debut LP look downright elementary. Opener “Diane Young” gave the group room to futher explore their sound in a breakdown that led them straight into the crowdpleasers.
Headliner Highlights: Charlie Wilson
Still seeking some legendary oomph, a sizeable crowd gathered at the Congo Stage to see former Gap Band frontman Charlie Wilson croon what still stands to be the best R&B in the business. Of course he played “You Dropped A Bomb on Me”, along with “Charlie, Last Name Wilson” and “You Are” and need I say more? Wilson took the weather in stride, making multiple costume changes that included his signature powder blue suit and an incredibly dapper all-white ensemble. His backing band dressed just as dapper.