Buku Music + Art Project brought a magical world to New Orleans for a weekend filled with some of the most prominent artists in the scene.
BUKU Music + Art Project is a staple of New Orleans with its charming art installations and top-tier performances from some of the scene’s finest artists. Although it had been a few years away from Mardi Gras World due to the pandemic, the festival came back bigger and better than ever to celebrate its lengthy ten-year run.
After a somewhat long day of traveling across the country, which included a delayed flight that made me miss most of the first day – I finally made it to New Orleans. As I approached the front gates, I didn’t know what was in store, but something I did know was that it was about to be an incredible weekend. Once our wristbands were scanned, and our bags were checked, we immediately raced inside.
From the moment we made our way through the venue, colors from all of the stages and live art installations whirled across the water and through the sea of faces taking over the grounds.
One of the most fantastic aspects of BUKU was the live art installations which featured artists from across the country creating massive pieces inside shipping containers, which were at the center of the festival. Throughout the venue, various light fixtures changed and danced with the rhythm of the night. Although the lines for food were long, they went by quickly, and the food was surprisingly good as far as festival food goes.
Our first stop was the end of John Summit’s set at the Ballroom where he brought groovy vibes emphasized by deep basslines and echoing synths. His light show flooded the sky as people swayed to the upbeat sounds that emulated a club night. Afterward, we headed over to the Bridge to get a dose of Rezz’s deep, haunting tracks and hypnotic visuals. Red lights flooded the festival and lit up the dancing faces of the crowd as heavy bass shook the ground with her hard-hitting midtempo beats.
Finally, the moment I was most excited about on the first night had arrived, Porter Robinson’s set.
Porter Robinson was set to take the Skyline stage to perform a shortened version of his highly acclaimed Nurture Live set. We found ourselves in the perfect spot to witness all the magic of his production as crowds started to gather together in excitement as the light dimmed and Porter made his way to the stage.
The crowd lit up as everyone in unison sang “Something Comforting,” it was certainly a peak moment of the festival. As his set ended, fireworks took over the sky as the crowd sang “Get Your Wish” together before he walked off. From there, we quickly ran over to catch the end of CloZee’s set. Her deep beats perfectly matched the acidic visuals as she added elements of music from around the planet to her set.
We ended the night back at Skyline for Tame Impala, a bucket list artist for me. Their set was a nice change of pace from the dance music-dominated ones I had been hooked to since entering the festival. They opened with “One More Year,” taking us all on a trip with colorful visuals and infinite guitar solos, channeling a nostalgic feeling that left a lasting impression.
We made it through the gates just after the music began on the second day to make it in time for Tsu Nami’s set.
Tsu Nami brought plenty of vibes and colorful visuals to make it one of the best ways to start the day at BUKU. We stayed through Moore Kismet’s lively performance, where they brought an undeniable uniqueness to the stage and shined bright in a magical way, further proving their one-of-a-kind style. Then, we raced over to catch half of Allison Wonderland’s set as she bounced around the stage, and the crowd sang along with her.
After catching half of Alison Wonderland’s set, we headed over to see Sullivan King. He’s become one of my favorites with his blend of electronic music and metal atmosphere as he shreds on the guitar, and it was great to catch him for my first time there. This performance brought plenty of flames and ground shaking beats, making it one of the weekend’s standouts.
The artist I was most excited about on Saturday was SVDDEN DEATH.
SVDDEN DEATH was riding the wave of support after the release of VOYD II and brought forth some mayhem with his eerie visuals and dark anthems to the stage. The crowd was filled with headbangers and moshpits as he annihilated everyone who stood in his wake. Then, he shattered the stage with one last heavy drop and thanked the crowd before leaving the stage.
Soon after, Lane 8 slowed things down as a perfect way to close out The Wharf stage. He brought smiles across the crowd as you can see each person holding hands and enjoying the overwhelming serenity across the grounds with his steady beats and mystical tempos.
We ended the final night of Buku with Tyler, the Creator, with a majority of the crowd. Opening with “SIR BAUDELAIRE,” his set continued at high energy as the pyrotechnics warmed the crowd as he bounced about tirelessly. He brought his humor to the stage with his biggest hits before ending the evening with “RUNITUP,” closing out the festival in the most memorable way.
New Orleans has always been my favorite city, and I will use any excuse to take a trip out that way, especially from BUKU.
Spanning all genres, live art, and massive colorful installations, BUKU offers a unique take on a music festival that you should check out. Connecting with fellow music lovers, being surrounded by live art, and seeing friends and family for the first time in years made the weekend one for the books. Not to mention that the friendly crowd and overall atmosphere of New Orleans make you not even notice the heat and humidity.
BUKU is a reminder of how big the music scene in the South is and how it brings people together for an unforgettable experience. I plan to be back in the future.