A standout destination for music and art lovers alike, Buku celebrated its 5th year March 11-12. The sold out success of a festival, set in the heart of New Orleans, incorporates much of the cities’ rich cultural history into the weekend long festival’s atmosphere.
Buku Music and Arts Project continues to be exactly as advertised: a diverse and ever-expanding project.
The line-up, stacked with some of the biggest names in electronic, hip-hop, and indie respectively, drew one of Buku’s largest crowds to date. A mix of spring breakers, creatives, and youthful music enthusiasts piled into the post-industrial setting along the Mississippi river despite Friday’s promise of rain. In earlier years, Buku struggled to accommodate this influx, but it has since improved with almost no issues at entry.
One of Buku’s unique characteristics is its in-progress feel and ability to stay true to its roots.
The prime Warehouse District location, where Mardi Gras floats are constructed, reveals how intentional each aspect of Buku is, a festival that begins each year as a project built from the ground up. The festival’s Front Yard area, an art-filled, adult playground complete with an LED see-saw and vendors, also included a curated lineup showcasing the talent of six local collectives.
Other stages included the Float Den, a Buku staple, the Power Plant stage where an assortment of incredible headliners took the stage, the Ballroom, and the Back Alley stage. The spacious setting allowed for easy navigation between stages, a god-send rarely found at festivals, and those lucky enough to do BUKU VIP style had the opportunity to catch artists like Louis the Child and Autograf in an exclusive three-story yacht setting.
Friday afternoon storms threatened to interfere with the primarily outdoor festival, but did not deter fans of artists like G Jones and Break Science away. Buku does a particularly good job of scheduling, so that death by indecisiveness isn’t a factor. Catching every act would be an impossible and particularly unrewarding feat, however, with the overwhelming amount of talent, each performance was a rewarding spectacle.
If you caught our Tour de Krew of must-see Buku acts, it’s no surprise that Anderson .Paak, backed by the equally talented, Free Nationals, impressed and exceeded all expectations. His performance solidified what the recent release of his Malibu album confirmed: Anderson .Paak is not just enjoying a moment in the spotlight, he’s here to stay.
Unique in every aspect, Alternating between drums and spewing lyrical gold, .Paak’s set took on a captivating presence of its own. Loyal fans of the B.D. (Before Dre) era went line for line with the lyricist for classics like “Drugs” and “Suede,” but whether a fan or by chance straggler, the Ballroom’s ambience was funky, rhythmic and unlike any other.
Other notable performances included Miike Snow’s highly anticipated performance, timed perfectly with the indie band’s release of iii, their first release since 2012. In the previous years, Miike Snow has managed to maintain a low-profile, but at Buku, the band held nothing back.
Performing a range of hits responsible for launching their successful career, the band also performed various new tracks off of their new album, including the indisputably catchy Genghis Khan, before bidding the crowd farewell with the well-known “Animals.”
Acts like Crystal Castles and Purity Ring delivered equally captivating performances, catering to the audience’s more obscure tastes while it is my assumption that Mystikal B2B Juvenile had people questioning where their parents were while they listened to Now That’s What I Call Music vol. whatever it was. As expected, Electro-funk kings like GRiZ stole the show
Pretty Lights and his live band came equipped with their trademark lights accompaning their melodic, groovy New Orleans vibe—succeeding once more in taking the audience to another dimension.
With the slew of electronic artists spread out over two days, all standout artists in their respective sub-genres, Berlin-based DJ, Claptone, commanded the dance floor in a rare way. Tucked away in the back-alley under a beautifully designed wooden structure shooting lights in every direction, the beak-masked producer threw down his signature dark twist on house music.
Both mysterious and in-your-face, Claptone’s mix of deep house and dance hits were the perfect way of closing out the second and final night of Buku.
Whether you caught all of, or even the smallest portion of the festival, you undoubtedly caught Buku’s contagious, New Orleans fused vibes. A vibe comprised of free-spiritedness, open-minded experience, and a “from the ground up” mentality, Buku is, at its core, exactly as it bills itself: a music and art project.