The city of New Orleans demonstrated Saturday that Hurricane Katrina didn't kill its musical spirit when the Voodoo Music Festival returned home.
The festival has taken place in New Orleans every year since 1999, but was initially moved to Memphis after the storm. Organizers eventually decided to split the show between the two cities: with a New Orleans concert on Saturday and one in Memphis the following day.
Most of the 25,000 tickets for the New Orleans show were distributed for free to police officers, members of the military and other relief workers. Nine Inch Nails headlined both shows, and several other acts, including Queens of the Stone Age and The New York Dolls, performed in both cities.
"Restore, Rebuild, Rebirth" was the official motto for the New Orleans show, and concert organizer Steve Rehage believes the show did a lot to achieve those goals.
"It's about reminding the country that [Katrina isn't] the 15-minute story that went away. We need to rebuild this city. It's a city built on its music, its culture, and it needs to be preserved."
Katrina survivor Lonetta Williams Lee said that she had volunteered to work at the concert for free as a way to show the rest of the country that her hometown was ready to welcome tourists again.
"We're back, and we're here," she says, "and you know how we love to party in New Orleans."
For Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, a former New Orleans resident, said performing at Voodoo was a personal experience, although he also saw the show's larger potential.
"Anything I can do to help out. I love this place, and if it helps a little bit, whether it be through money, or exposure in the media," says Reznor. "Or if three people smile out there because they had a better day, because there's something to do other than feel [bad] about what's happened here. That's why I'm doing it."
The money raised at the Voodoo Festival shows will be distributed to various non-profit groups for the rebuilding of New Orleans.