As we hiked from the car to the Buku Music + Arts Project, there was a noticeable girl trailing behind with pink bunny ears and a fuzzy tail attached to her tiny sequence shorts. From that moment, it was understood that this festival was going to be an unforgettable experience with loads of sites to see. Holding true to that fact, upon entry, the crowd of attendees was a mixture of young hipsters, music lovers and local regulars of all ages. Swimsuits, cropped tops and shirtless males were a normality, as were oddly located piercings and colorful hair. While the crowd was enough entertainment in itself, Buku also upheld its reputation for renowned star-studded musical acts.
Returning for its third year, the Buku Music + Art Project put on electrifying performances featuring artist such as Bone Thugs- n-Harmony, The Flaming Lips, Pusha T, Sleigh Bells and new rap phenomenon Schoolboy Q. There were several other unparalleled acts, including the much anticipated hip-hop veteran NAS, who hit the main stage with an incredible concert that celebrated the 20th anniversary of his 1994 debut album Illmatic.
Located along the Mississippi River at Mardi Gras World, Buku was an extravaganza of epic proportions. Strobe lights and heavy bass music bounced off of the river, creating a euphoric atmosphere that blended music, art and culture.
There was much to rave about when it came to the artists. Ellie Goulding not only proved herself as a dance music princess, but she also showed her musical skills by rocking out on drums and guitar. As for David Guetta, who closed out the main stage, performing in New Orleans wasn't only a treat for his fans, but also a dream that he has had for quite some time. Before gracing the crowd with hit songs like "Titanium" and "Without You," Guetta paid homage to New Orleans, stating in his very-French accent, "Since I was a teenager I wanted to come to your city, and I'm so happy to be here." He continued as the crowd roared with excitement. "I'm going to stay a few days, hang out, eat some fish, go see concerts… this is the city of music. This is where my heart is." Like expected, he closed out the main stage with a bang.
Being that this festival is located in New Orleans, of course it was only appropriate to also have home-grown NOLA musicians. While many of the local acts performed in the daytime, others like Quickie Mart, DJ Soul Sister and the Gaslamp Killer carried the show into the wee hours of the night.
Music was the key attraction at Buku, but as the title states, art was another major aspect for the festival. Housed outside of the float den was a sprawling wall of street art, where painters like Alex Glustrom and Project Be creator Brandon Odums produced live art throughout the two-day festival. Across the way at the Buku Bazaar, art vendors sold everything from paintings to handmade jewelry and clothing.
The 2014 Buku Music + Art Project was a brag worthy event. Its dynamic of rave untied with the flavor of a local NOLA festival gave attendees exactly what they were looking for - good food, good music, good art, and - most importantly- a good time.