Buku Music + Art Project returned to Mardi Gras World


Buku Music + Art Project returned to Mardi Gras World, New Orleans this past weekend and brought with it a powerful lineup of musical artists, delectable local vendors, plenty of adult beverages, and an insane number of lasers. Most importantly, however, Buku Music + Art brought with it good memories and two days of an elevated reality with new and old friends. There is something special about gathering the masses of music lovers into one venue and setting them loose on six stages to discover new artists, see all-time favorites, and build memories for the future. Buku Music + Art Project did just that and more during its 2018 installation.


Having notable success in recent years, the operators of Buku chose to increase the festival’s presence on the Gulf Coast by expanding both its lineup and physical footprint at Mardi Gras World in New Orleans in 2018. This year, the festival played host to patrons on two sides of a railroad track (which at times created quite the pile up of fans waiting to cross) with the Power Plant and Front Yard stages set at the inland entrance to the grounds and the Wharf, Ballroom, Float Den, and VIP Back Alley stages on the river side of the tracks. The largest of the stages, the Power Plant Stage, featured performances from Migos, Gryffin, Illenium Bassnectar, and more while the Wharf Stage provided non-stop DJ and hip-hop entertainment from the festival’s open to close. Once closer to the river, fans had access to the Ballroom Stage, one of the two indoor portions of the festival.


The Ballroom Stage featured an eclectic mix of pop, hip hop, punk rock, and electronic performances including the likes of A Day To Remember, Elohim, and Sylvan Esso, throughout the two days of the festival. Tucked away at the back portion of the grounds was the Float Den, quite literally a storage warehouse for the massive Mardi Gras floats that are seen parading the streets of New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Notable performances at this stage included Hippie Sabotage, Virtual Self and Rezz. Because the festival tends to draw more electronic artists and fans, the Float Den was a constant madhouse of heavy bass, wild light shows, and lots and lots of sweat. Surrounded by giant gorillas, masquerade masked caricatures and other fantastical floats, the Float Den felt as if attendees were transported into an alternate reality while inside.


In line with the feeling of stepping into an alternate reality, there was no missing the massive power plant that loomed eerily over the entirety of the festival grounds all weekend. With hints of the Johnny Depp remake of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory story, the festival grounds meticulously balanced the adventurous feeling of abandoned warehouse raves with a calming riverside oasis. Along said river, there were constant streams of pop-up performances by expert beatboxers, break-dancers, violinists, and shopping cart house-DJs alike. So even while fans were migrating between the plethora of stages and main musical performances, they were never left without a moment of entertainment.


Although majorly successful overall, Buku Music + Art was plagued with yet another infamous cancellation of a top performer over the weekend. Without warning and without reason, Lil Uzi Vert backed out of the festival last minute, reminding repeat attenders of the drama that ensued when Young Thug pulled the same move at last year’s installation of the festival. Luckily for live electronic performer Gryffin, festival operators moved his set from the smaller Wharf Stage to take the place of Lil Uzi Vert at the main Power Plant Stage. With a smile from ear to ear and gratitude overflowing for the opportunity to the play the main stage in a city where he has not frequented, Gryffin put on an epic performance and quickly allowed fans to forget the unfortunate circumstances of the unexpected cancellation.


Photography by Marshall Heins II

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