Cuckoo for Buku
Buku Music + Art Project 2018
Shralpin journeyed to the Big Easy for the seventh installment of the Buku Music + Art Project on the weekend of March 9-10th. Held at Mardi Gras World in New Orleans, Louisiana, the festival backdrop included breathtaking views of the Mississippi River and the abandoned Market Street Power Plant, giving Buku an Urban Wonderland vibe. It was a mildly chilly as thousands of festival attendees lined up at the venue on Friday evening in utter anticipation of experiencing the magic of BUKU. According to social media reports posted on the Buku Project Twitter page, people not only showed up from all over the country, but also around the world from places like Saudi Arabia. How’s that for a globally diverse turn out?!
Friday night kicked off on a trippy note to the sounds of Clozee, MGMT, and Russ Liquid Test. These exceptionally talented artists and a plethora of others warmed up the crowd for highly anticipated performances from the likes of Snails, SZA, Migos, Mura Masa, and A Day to Remember. At the peak of the evening, Alison Wonderland took us to her Happy Place, making the Float Den rattle and shake with her spunky, high energy set in preparation for Virtual Self, Flatbush Zombies, and Bonobo closing out Day 1. The most memorable closing set for us was Virtual Self’s US festival debut performance. Porter Robinson took the stage as his alias, Virtual Self and blew the crowd away with a euphoric, upbeat neo-techno set that transported us to another dimension.
Mardi Gras World is a charming venue unlike any place we have experienced before. It is a 400,000-sq.-ft. complex where Mardi Gras floats are made & stored, with tours available on the regular. The outdoor Power Plant Stage, located towards the front of the venue, was the biggest stage at the festival. Guests strolled amongst twinkling neon star shaped structures as they ventured through the yard of the Power Plant area. It was decorated by vivacious banners depicting the iconic Buku moon eye making a transformation through each lunar phase.
The Ballroom Stage, located past the Power Plant, opened into a courtyard filled with craft vendors such as GloFX, Grassroots California, Neon Culture, and Itty-Bitty Glitter Committee. Funk-a-delic disco-ball laden traveling art carts rolled around the courtyard to keep the good vibes flowing. A gleaming color changing art instillation that spelled out “NOLA” overlooked the serene Mississippi River and the massive river barges that would pass by the venue at various times of the night.
Across the way from the Ballroom stage was The Wharf, an outdoor stage overlooked by Fort Buku. Fort Buku, an intricately designed two-story art structure made of shipping containers, was one of our favorite hangout spots during the festival. An illuminated Buku moon eye was displayed on the outside of the fort where performers such as string quartets and break dancers alike showcased their talents in front of. Graffitied masterpieces lined the inside of the first-floor container, leading the way to the second-floor staircase. A web-like structure was accessible from the second floor of the fort that served as a nice lounging area to watch artists like Walker and Royce and Green Velvet.
Past the outdoor area of the Ballroom was another one of our favorite stages, the Float Den. Vivacious and lifelike Mardi Gras floats lined the perimeter of the Float Den Stage, allowing attendees to bask in their wondrous sight. The Crescent City Connection, twin cantilever bridges that carry U.S. Highway 90 Business over the Mississippi River, could be seen from the Back-Alley VIP area as they projected a luminous glow onto the Mississippi River.
Day 2 on Saturday was the cherry on top of a superb weekend at Buku. Artists like Jade Cicada, Elohim, and Hippie Sabotage prepped festival attendees for an insane Saturday night. As the sun set on the Power Plant, Illenium hit us right in the feels with a raw and heartfelt Awake performance, which included members of his live band. Electrifying performances from Borgore and Gryffin preceded Illenium and vamped up the energy of the crowd in preparation for the closing sets of the evening played by none other than Bassnectar and Rezz. Bassheads flocked to the Power Plant as Nectar served us a side dish of funk with a main course of heavy hitting bass tracks that made the crowd go loco. Finally, we had the pleasure of watching Rezz snatch souls as she closed out the festival at the Float Den. Space Mom reminded everyone to stay hydrated as she diluted the crowds brains with a dark bass influenced set.
The food offerings this year were nothing short of mouth-watering and appetizing. The diverse food vendor selection catered to every palate with everything from Cajun cuisine to Vegetarian options. There was something special for everyone to chow down on during a night of celebration including chicken wings, Crawfish Egg Rolls, Lobster Mac, and Wonton tacos.
Buku Music + Art Project 2018 is one of the most inimitable festivals we have attended and will always hold a special place in our hearts. The stunning music, art, and culture is something that every festival goer should get to experience in their lifetime. A huge thanks to all of the wonderful individuals behind the scenes and the hard-working staff for making this year’s unforgettable event possible. We can hardly wait to travel back to New Orleans to reunite with the BuKrewe next year! See you in 2019.
Written by: Rachel W.