Thousands of young people took over Mardi Gras World for the sixth annual Buku Music + Art Project on Friday and Saturday. They were drawn there by headliners like Deadmau5 and Travis Scott, as well as an assortment of other acts from the electronic music, hip-hop and indie worlds.
Festy fashion was on full display throughout the weekend, as revelers donned everything from animal costumes and vivid neon apparel to glowing accessories and standard St. Patrick’s Day attire. Their creativity was matched by that of the festival, which decorated its grounds with a variety of art installations that accentuated the beauty of the adjacent Mississippi River and added an extra dose of psychedelia to the mix. Of course, Buku once again showcased the talent of local street artists be prominently displaying newly-created works near the “Power Plant” main stage.
Nevertheless, the music was the main attraction for most in attendance and it—mostly—went off without a hitch. Friday closed out with sets from EDM duo Zeds Dead and comedic rapper Lil Dicky, who both took the stage after a rapper Travis Scott treated the crowd to his signature Auto Tune-laden sound at the Power Plant. Those sets followed a packed show from Grizmatik—a collaborative project from producers Griz and Gramatik—that sent thousands of festival goers into what looked like a 75-minute frenzy.
Friday took a pretty New Orleans turn when Juvenile showed up at the last minute to fill-in for perennial set canceler Young Thug, who surprised almost no one by backing out at the last minute. The local hip-hop hero ran through hits such as “Back That Azz Up,” “Slow Motion” and “Project Chick” while repeatedly thanking the city for its continued support of his music. In what would become a trend throughout the festival, Juvie also asked everyone in the audience to hold up backlit cell phones in a 21st century display of concert solidarity. Most were happy to comply, but a handful of old souls decided to put their lighters in the air instead, proving that appreciation for analog lives on at Buku.
Deadmau5 was just happy he got to perform by the time he took to the Power Plant stage on Saturday night. The forecasted rain (which never materialized) must have had the Canadian house music superstar worried that his show would be called off like it was at Voodoo Fest 2015, an occasion he referenced on a few times while on stage. Deadmau5’s repetitive production stood in contrast to the layered beats of Run The Jewels, who floored the festival grounds with an intensely political, high-energy hip-hop set that showed off the effortless chemistry of rappers El-P and Killer Mike.
The laid back, lighter side of electronic music even got some love when Tycho brought his band to the Power Plant. Rather than relying on computers and knobs to do all the work, the ambient music producer brought his soothing sounds to life with the help of three additional musicians. Like most of the artists at Buku, his set was complemented by a stunning visual component that was as entrancing as the music that accompanied it.
Other notable performers at the festival included Atlanta rapper 21 Savage, Grammy-nominated producer ZHU, noise pop duo Sleigh Bells, indie darlings Car Seat Headrest, Norwegian DJ Cashmere Cat, jazz-fusion bassist Thundercat, experimental rockers Yeasayer and many more. New Orleans acts like Caddywhompus, ROAR!, AF the Naysayer and Unicorn Fukr also got their due with prominent sets at the Power Plant and the Ballroom. Additionally, the festival’s “Front Porch” hosted curated showcases from local entities like Community Records, Upbeat Academy, The New Movement theater and Solange Knowles’ Saint Heron.
All photos by Marissa Altazan.