Buku Festival Review: A Weekend Of Art & Music In The Big Easy
What Is Buku Music + Art Project?
I stepped foot into the state of Louisiana for the first time in my life with the intent of seeing some of my favorite artists at Buku Music + Art Project. I have now been to a pretty large amount of music festivals considering my age, but this one gained a special place in my heart, just a few hours into Day 1.
I decided to go to New Orleans a few months before the festival when I saw the complete line-up for the event. Being a fan of both Warped Tour and EDM, I was intrigued by the idea of seeing post-hardcore acts Falling in Reverse and A Day To Remember rock the crowd on the same day as dubstep artist Snails and the mysterious Virtual Self, who was scheduled to play his first festival set ever at Buku. The line-up also included a live performance from Illenium, performing songs from his latest album “Awake“, and a closing set from the hypnotic REZZ.
The Buku Music + Art Project has been taking place yearly at Mardi Gras World, in the Lower Garden District of New Orleans, since 2012; this year it happened on March 9th and 10th. Its name comes from the French word for “a lot”: beaucoup. And there’s definitely A LOT going on at this festival!
The Buku Experience
Getting through security on both days was a breeze, and before I knew it, I was walking through the gates into one of the most unique venues I’ve ever encountered for a boutique festival. Buku is located right on the Mississippi River, offering a view of the Crescent City Connection bridge and the New Orleans skyline, and I loved walking by the water on my way from one stage to the other. The industrial, quirky atmosphere was only accentuated by the presence of an abandoned power plant looming on the horizon, visible from the main stage (aptly named the “Power Plant” stage). The other stages were also quite peculiar: The Riverside Wharf is right in front of a graffiti-covered fort that you could climb on top of to get a better view of the stage and venue; the Float Den is inside a warehouse where Mardi Gras floats are built and stored; the Ballroom is a sleek concert hall complete with a balcony.
Another thing that I found so pleasant was the overall vibe: warm, welcoming, and intimate, despite the new venue expansions. Everyone I met was polite and friendly, especially the Louisiana locals. There wasn’t as much kandi as I was hoping for, but the outfits were out of this world. Buku was a perfect place for the weird and the wonderful to mingle and share a night of good vibes and some of the best music around.
The food selection matched and then exceeded all my expectations for a festival set in New Orleans. Lobster mac and cheese, anyone? Or would you prefer some crawfish beignets, a delicious hot bowl of jambalaya, or some perfectly crispy yet juicy fried chicken? My only complaint here is the lack of healthier food options, though. Maybe I’m just spoiled after living in California for a few years, but it would’ve been nice to have some fresh fruit or salads available for when you get tired of eating so much fattening food. Regardless, I am still raving to all my friends about the meals I had during the event!
But What Else Is There At Buku?
Although most of the line-up is comprised of EDM and hip-hop artists, the Buku Project crew decided to take a risk this year by booking acts that stray away from those genres entirely; I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised by how welcoming the Buku family was to A Day To Remember and Falling in Reverse, two rock bands who don’t have that much in common with most of this festival’s headliners. Even Ronnie Radke, the lead singer of the latter, said something along the lines of: “I never expected to feel at home at an EDM festival”. I saw people mosh, crowd-surf, and sing their hearts out while smiling from ear to ear. Everyone was getting wild while staying P.L.U.R. at the same time. Hopefully, we will see more bands like these at Buku 2019! It’s thrilling to see festival organizers actually try to incorporate new, unexpected elements into their events.
Strolling through the venue from one stage to the other, my eyes had no time to get bored, always busy catching a sight of street performers showing off their talents, or of an outlandish and colorful outfit on a beautiful attendee. Although there was a decent amount of art, I do feel like there could’ve been more, especially considering that it’s an “ART + music festival”. I loved the live graffiti painting area, but I wish the artists were closer to the crowd so we could actually see their beautiful artwork up close!
Buku was an extraordinary experience, and I truly hope this festival keeps growing and getting better each year. I can’t wait to see what the organizers have in mind for 2019.
Let us know in the comments who you want to see on the line-up for Buku 2019!
Stay wonderful and weird.
Photo Credit: The Buku Project