The gist: Lafayette’s biggest party is so big, it can be overwhelming. Stick with us, friend. We’ve got the must-see’s covered for this year’s festival. But first, a public service announcement:
Keep the international in Festival International. The cost of producing Festival is getting steeper. Visas for international artists jumped 250%(!) in 2023. And that’s on top of the increased cost of travel. The best way to support artists directly is to buy their stuff. Donations and alcohol sales help pay for Festival itself. Want to keep Festival international? Support it.
ADG7. On Thursday, everybody and their momma is going to see Lauren Daigle. All their kids are going to see ADG7 at Scène Fais Do Do. Why? Two words: K Pop. Kids are nuts about K Pop. ADG7 is a massive international act with a bombastic blend of pop art, hip hop, traditional instrumentation and house music. They had NPR’s Tiny Desk positively bumping.
Schedule: Thursday, Scène Laborde Earles Fais Do Do, 9:15 p.m. / Friday, Scène LUS Internationale, 7:15 p.m.
Les Hay Babies. You better not act like you’re in a Wes Anderson film when you go to see this New Brunswick trio. On second thought, you might fit right in. Les Hay Babies traffic in 60s nostalgia that oozes cool and confectionary pop. It’s Dusty Springfield smoking a cigarette with Jacques Dutronc. We’re here for it.
Schedule: Saturday, Scène Tito’s Handmade Vodka Lafayette, 4:30 p.m. / Sunday, Scène Laborde Earles Fais Do Do, 3:30 p.m.
Las Cafeteras. Hailing from East L.A., their performances are a defiant and activist blend of Afro-Mexican traditions and hip hop collage. The Angelinos have earned acclaim for fearless reinvention of Chicano styles. The fusion is intense but accessible. For a taste, consider Las Cafeteras’ rendition of the Chicano standard “La Llorona.”
Schedule: Saturday, Scène Tito’s Handmade Vodka Lafayette, 8 p.m. / Sunday, Scène LUS Internationale, 4 p.m.
Angelique Kidjo. The premier diva of West African music, the Beninese singer’s influence on world music and its popularity over the last few decades is matched by few artists. Kidjo is a five-time Grammy winner and internationally acclaimed activist known for her promotion of African culture on the world’s stages.
Schedule: Friday, Scène LUS Internationale, 8:45 p.m.
Club gigs: Maybe it’s the dehydration, but Festival after hours can be transcendent. Bounce between gigs at Blue Moon Saloon and Artmosphere to catch mashups of local and international favorites. Case in point: Creole Cowboy Jeffrey Broussard and reggae legend Rocky Dawuni (Saturday, Artmosphere) vs. 79ers Gang (Saturday, Blue Moon Saloon).
Eat. If there’s one thing I do every Festival, it’s grab a bite from Bon Creole. Sure, the crawfish boat is the prize, but for my money — paid with an RFID wristband — the red beans and rice is an unsung hero. Other favorites in food alley: Patacon, Poupart’s and Caroline’s Cookies.
Special events. Festival convenes some pretty big ideas throughout the week. Panels and other événements speciaux offer a different way into Festival — and air conditioning doesn’t hurt.
Appreciation vs. Appropriation? The Current’s own Elliot Wade moderates a panel exploring the fine line between cultural exchange and cultural exploitation. The conversation features performer Ngaiire, a First Nation Australian, and some local heavy hitters. (Friday, Acadiana Center for the Arts, 4 p.m.)
Explore the cultural roots of Zydeco with Herman Fuselier and Jeffrey Broussard. Herman is the dean of zydeco scholars and host of one of Lafayette’s most important exports: The Zydeco Stomp. (Saturday, Acadiana Center for the Arts, 2 p.m.).
Join the francophone faithful for a French mass at St. John’s Cathedral (Sunday, 11 a.m.).
Take the kiddos to storytime and yoga at the Downtown library, with award-winning author Rana DiOrio (Saturday, 10 a.m.).