By Jilliann Herkenhoff
For those wanting to experience something a little different than one of the many mega-fests that are soon to fill our summer schedules, listen to us when we say Buku Music + Art Project will fulfill that desire.
We welcomed ourselves to our second Buku experience anticipating the same high energy of an underground dance party that we felt last year, and we left with all expectations succeeded. So, we’re looking at a star-studded concoction of a line up with everything from the sparkly sound waves of Kaskade, Zedd and Ellie Goulding to legendary hip hop artists like Nas and Bone Thugs n Harmony. Let’s throw in Zeds Dead, Conspirator, Sleigh Bells, Wavves and Lotus too, but that was just the first night. Saturday was filled with everything from the trappy beats of Bauuer and funky grooves of Griz to the refreshing melodies of Explosions in the Sky followed by the worldly psychedelic fusion of Beats Antique. To add more flare and variety, we also got Phantogram, The Flaming Lips, Tyler the Creator, Cashmere Cat and Soul Clap. To close things out? An explosion of innovative electronic energy from the powerhouse trio, The Glitch Mob.
Time overlaps? Not too bad. Technical difficulties? Nothing to seriously piss anybody off. I mean, I don’t think there was one person in Mardi Gras World without a smile on their face. The energy from New Orleans spills through the patrons seamlessly and the industrial vibe of Mardi Gras World flows perfectly with Buku’s signature and intriguing fusion of EDM, hip-hop, experimental and sub-genres of indie rock. Sitting right in the heart of New Orleans’ lower Garden District, Buku flaunts it’s surrounding’s unique vibe in every aspect of the festival. From the signature indigenous art exhibits (The Buku Graffiti Wall; all pieces were available for purchase once completed), to the array of street performers (unicyclists and surprise violinists to name a few) that were sprinkled throughout the grounds. The classic and seriously incredible *local* New Orleans food vendors satisfied another sense that is commonly downplayed at festivals by standard carnival food. Buku blends the rich and festive culture of New Orleans with the edgy attitude of the patrons to the highest degree.
The stage set ups were nothing short of impressive as well; The main outdoor Power Plant Stage- with an abandoned early 20th Century power plant looming in the backdrop; the electronic-focused and laser filled Float Den Stage situated in a massively impressive Mardi Gras float manufacturing warehouse; the indoor Ballroom Stage with balconies looming and wrapping around above; the new Back Alley Stage with views of the city’s iconic Crescent City Connection bridge which radiates a warm glow as it straddles the Mississippi River; and let’s not forget the S.S. BUKU, a three-level New Orleans-style riverboat docked directly on the festival grounds featuring an open bar, main stage views from the boat’s deck, and additional amenities exclusive to VIP attendees. The most impressive part of each stage was the most important part, THE SOUND. It sounded as if every tweeter and every woofer were fine tuned to the highest degree. Every frequency pumping smoothly into the crowd no matter how high or how low the note. No muddiness and no softness. The sound crew were on point all weekend. This was especially noticeable during The Glitch Mob’s mind-blowing closeout set.
Winter Circle Productions has successfully established one hell of a solid third year music festival. It’s one thing to map out festival grounds on a huge farm in the middle of nowhere, but it’s another to pull off such a successful event in the heart of one of the biggest party cities in the world. That’s exactly what makes Buku even more intriguing; you’re in New Orleans, where the whimsy and mischief is airborne. When the final show is over, you’re not trudging back to your campsite wishing it were Friday evening at 5pm again, you’re gearing up to experience the history and character of a city that’s just as alive as we are. And of course, the late night shows were just as stacked as the initial line up with collaborations from Bassik, Mad Decent, LuckyMe and artists like Doctor P, Paper Diamond, Poolside, Holy Ghost!, Bauuer, Trippy Turtle and Zeds Dead conveniently located in New Orleans venues close to the festival which kept us entertained until 5-6am. What a production as a whole, the improvements from last year are highly notable (actual seating and a cleaner venue than you’d ever expect) plus the organization and friendliness of the staff made a well recognizable flow of all the patrons. Buku Music + Art Project is without a doubt the bottle of bubbly that’s popped and blasted into the air in celebration that festival season has officially begun. To Winter Circle Productions and the entire Bukrewe, thank you for all that you’ve done and continue to improve. Our weekend was definitely #toobuku, and it’s safe to say we will be #reyjing in New Orleans again next year!