How to Do Buku
Amidst the crowded New Orleans festival schedule — Jazz Fest, Voodoo, French Quarter Fest — the BUKU Music + Art Project is a relative newcomer. The festival celebrates its eight birthday in 2019, making it a baby compared to similar stalwarts of the local fest scene. That reputation is exacerbated by BUKU’s overt post-millennial appeal — even the Voodoo Experience, one of the more youthful New Orleans events, feels a little aged when compared to BUKU.
We’ll say this: BUKU is for all ages. It has simply assumed the position of local fest incarnation of youth culture, via its Mardi Gras World location along the Mississippi Riverfront, intensive social media campaigning, surreal art installations, and unique venue selection (the Float Den stage, for example, basically pops off in a Blaine Kern warehouse workshop).
For all that, the main source of BUKU’s appeal with a younger crowd is its music lineup — and even in this age of multi-sensory festival experiences, at the end of the day, it’s the music that most people judge this sort of event by. BUKU organizers insist their festival eschews the scattershot, every-genre-under-the-sun approach of larger summer fests for a more curated dance-party vibe.
Long story short: BUKU is eclectic, but not to the point of losing vision of its spirit and brand. This vision is a big part of BUKU’s appeal. That consistent habit of being on point with fest messaging, along with BUKU’s location in the heart of the burgeoning Warehouse District, makes the event particularly attractive to visitors and locals alike. According to the organizers, the fest sold out in 2018, attracting over 17,500 attendees.
BUKU features four stages. Power Plant, the main stage situated in front of the old Market Street Power Plant, is lodged between active train tracks and the Mississippi River, creating a spectacle few other festivals can match. The aforementioned Float Den, perhaps the festival’s most popular (and intense) stage, incorporates the oddities of the Mardi Gras float manufacturing warehouse into its dance-party concert space. The riverside stage, called The Wharf, returns this year, as does the fourth stage, the indoor Ballroom, with wraparound balcony viewing.
Like any multi-stage music festival, part of the fun is planning your own personal schedule of which acts to see and when to hustle from one stage to another. This year, and in any year, expect art exhibits, tons of local food vendors, and plenty of regional music acts of various genres sprinkled throughout the two-day event. Art demos will include the annual Live Graffiti Gallery and a collaborative mural by street art stars, creating an interactive environment for the attendees. The food in the past included everything from the iconic New Orleans staples to fish tacos, BBQ, crepes, and vegan fare.
The music lineup is heavy on EDM, indie rock and hip-hop as usual. Lana del Ray will headline on Friday, and A$AP Rockytakes the stage on Saturday. Excision, Dog Blood (featuring EDM superstar Skrillex and Boys Noize), Kevin Gates, and RL Grime are also scheduled to perform this year.
Two parking lots adjacent to the New Orleans Convention Center, on Convention Center Boulevard, will be open to the festival attendees. Street parking in the area is limited. Please also note that the attendees must 17 years of age or older to enter, and no overnight camping or tailgating is allowed. One-day passes start at $105.
All photos courtesy of aLIVE Coverage