Getting #TOOBUKU in New Orleans – BUKU Music & Art Project
BUKU Music & Art Project may only be five years old but it’s vibe precedes it. As a prized music festival in New Orleans, we couldn’t miss the 5th anniversary that brought Above & Beyond, Nero, Pretty Lights, Kid Cudi, Future and more to the Crescent City.
Finding its place at Mardi Gras World located on the Mississippi River, BUKU packed 30,000 fans into the complex containing two indoor and two outdoor stages including the Power Plant MainStage and an iconic Back Alley stage in between a building and the Mississippi River. Torrential rains turned Louisiana into more of a swamp than it already was, but Mother Nature couldn’t stop the event from selling out, creating a spectacular vibe that overshadowed the event’s shortcomings.
Poor Sound vs. Invigorating Crowd Atmosphere
Each stage had times of intense crowds creating BUKU vibes that will be remembered forever. Multiple bass acts including Mija, What So Not, Feed Me, Datsik and Yellow Claw made the Float Den their home for the weekend turning this warehouse into a bass lover’s dream. The crowd was overflowing with energy, the room had that special vibe, no doubt from the Mardi Gras floats located all around, and yet something was missing. What was it? The crowd was screaming, the music was electric and then I heard it, or… I didn’t hear it. Where was the volume? The bass was decent but didn’t rumble your soul and the mids weren’t powerful. The crowd may have been brimming with energy after every track but it seemed the speakers couldn’t hold their own as the sound emanating ran out of steam halfway through the building.
BUKU vibes filtered through every single soul in the area though, superseding the lackluster sound, so while the volume wasn’t groundbreaking, the atmosphere created exactly what BUKU was going for, all without bursting any eardrums.
1 1/2 Hour Wait vs. One Giant Pathway vs. 30,000 Attendees
Getting into BUKU on Saturday proved to be a task in itself as it took an hour and a half to enter the gates standing with no more than 1,000 people from the entrance. Maybe it was the last-minute crowd for Future, or only 10 metal detectors allotted for General Admission to pass through, the entrance bottlenecked into an impassable rush hour traffic jam. To me, 10 seemed a little low, maybe double it next time.
The layout, while unique, seemed to stretch to fit the 30,000 attendees crowding Mardi Gras World. All attendees became familiar with one another as one pathway acted as overflow for the Power Plant Stage (mainstage) and the Float Den, dining hall with a food court and hosting a concrete seating area for tired guests. It also happened to be the most picturesque area of the festival, stopping attendees in their tracks to grab the best shot for their SnapChat story.
While the sold-out crowd factored into the wait time and the overcrowding of the pathway, plenty of volunteers, considerate attendees and beautiful views, these issues floated away with the passing oil tankers and tug boats on the Mississippi.
The Power Plant Stage vs. The Back Alley
Two opposing stages, opposite sides of the complex and one preference…the Back Alley. Walking through the crowd of people, all I could hear was praises for the Back Alley stage and how awesome it was. Featuring some amazing Techno, Deep House and House acts throughout the weekend including J.Phlip B2B Kill Frenzy, Art Department, SNBRN, Sam Feldt, Claptone and more, no one could get enough of the stacked palette stage, the gorgeous view of the Mississippi River Bridge and in my eyes, the best sound of the event. The stage, nestled between the Mardi Gras World building and the river, was simple in design and lighting but had the best vibes of the event with only 2 breaks of 15 minutes through each day.
The Power Plant Stage however had less music with 45 minutes between each set and ending music at 11 pm, before either of the closers had even taken the stage. Maybe it was for the traffic concerns getting out of the festival, or because of the variety between acts on the stage, whatever it was, the Power Plant stage didn’t impress me as much as the Back Alley stage did.
Is BUKU Worth It?
Even after all the less than ideal items I pointed out, this festival is totally worth the trip. OK, my ears weren’t busted after the event, but that just means my ears will be ready for next year’s BUKU. The giant pathway may be a little crowded but I’d much rather see it crowded rather than empty. I wish the Power Plant stage would have been more impressive, but I’m glad I got to experience the greatness that was the Back Alley and can’t wait to see the improvements BUKU makes across the board.
In the end, who doesn’t like partying in New Orleans? The rich history, crazy culture and great views give BUKU a perfect backdrop for attendees to experience the music they’ve been craving. Each act killed their set from Miike Snow performing tracks from their new album, Above & Beyond bringing Group Therapy to The Big Easy and Nero meshing styles with live vocals from Alana Watson. If only we had recordings of the sets…
Check out all the memories made over the weekend on Facebook and make sure to keep your eye out for BUKU 2017. It will be here before you know it.
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