The BUKU Music + Art Project is all grown-up and ready for the limelight. On March 22 and 23, the BUKU Music + Art Project will return for its eighth and, unquestionably, most anticipated installment to date.
In an era overloaded with characterless music festivals lacking in originality, the BUKU Project has emerged over the years to firmly establish itself as one of the country’s preeminent festival experiences. Every spring, thousands from around the world descend upon the expansive festival grounds, tucked along the Mississippi riverfront at Mardi Gras World, to immerse themselves in this innovative event, featuring local, national, and international artists.
Since Winter Circle Productions (an AEG Presents Company) debuted BUKU in 2012, it has evolved into an annual stomping ground for a creative underground sub-culture that is fueled by the tanks of present-day youth. With help from top-tier electronic, hip-hop, and indie rock artists, Winter Circle flawlessly manufactures an inventive art and music oasis every year that magnificently complements New Orleans by commingling BUKU’s thriving and progressive community with some of the city’s most pictorial aesthetics. From art installations and distinctive stages along the Mississippi to massive warehouse dance parties bordered by Mardi Gras floats, BUKU Fest effectively fuses traditional New Orleans concepts with a vibrant modern-day attitude.
Winter Circle has achieved the somewhat impossible in successfully establishing a unique niche festival experience in a highly competitive music city that was, arguably, already saturated with festivals. Over the years, the BUKU Fest revelers—aka the “BUKREWE”—have created their own culture (aka “BUKUlture”), celebrating music and art that is typically overshadowed by other, more traditional New Orleans cultures. The inspirations for and influences on BUKU are clearly illustrated through the festival’s blend of diverse music acts, exclusive industrial art installations, and surprise pop-up music and dance performances.
Among all the creative facets of BUKU Fest, nothing embodies BUKU’s identity more than the scaffolding structures that hold gigantic canvases that showcase some of the most talented street artists from NOLA and from around the country. Throughout the weekend, this graffiti gallery provides festival attendees with the opportunity to observe the creation of colorful BUKU-inspired works of art and, most importantly, to bid on the paintings through a silent auction benefitting Winter Circle’s charity, Upbeat Academy Foundation. Upbeat Academy is a local non-profit organization that provides NOLA youth with after-school programs to study hip-hop and electronic dance music production and performance. In a city rich in music history and culture, Upbeat creates hope and possibility for children who desire an opportunity to pursue art.
Often imitated, never duplicated, the BUKU Project has become a major player in festival innovation and entertainment. The incredible team at Winter Circle deserves all the recognition and respect that the general public has bestowed upon its brainchild over the years. The public’s overwhelming online adoration for BUKU’s lineups validates Winter Circle’s insane talent and ability in curating a diverse, well-balanced, and inimitable music lineup. Typically, when a festival lineup is released, it’s almost guaranteed to have outspoken critics, or “trolls,” ready to vehemently disparage some facet or detail. While some of this criticism is expected, considering musical tastes are vastly different, there are always those individuals whose sole purpose in life is to besmirch the success of others. Despite this near-guarantee of negativity, the online trolling of BUKU is uncommonly scarce. The minimal complaints surrounding this year’s lineup are vastly overpowered by the large contingent of admiring perspectives and glowing commendations.
With BUKU’s continued success over the years, it’s hard to imagine how the festival keeps getting better. However, every year, Winter Circle transfigures expectations with innovations and upgrades to its avant-garde production. In 2018, we were introduced to more expansive festival grounds, new stages, and upgraded VIP amenities, including a rooftop viewing area of the main stage. These modifications were very effective and advantageous, as the sprawling grounds provided more comfortable space for adventure.
Coming off an extremely successful sell-out weekend in 2018, BUKU has already sold out again. With headliners such as Lana Del Ray, Excision, Kevin Gates, RL Grime, A$AP Rocky, Dog Blood (Skrillex x Boys Noize), Griz, and Louis the Child, this early sell-out should come as no surprise. But this year is sure to be the best BUKU yet!
For additional info, visit BUKU Music + Art Project online at thebukuproject.com or on all social media @thebukuproject.