The Beautifully Bold Buku Music & Art Project Strikes Again [review]
6 years later and steadily gaining strength each iteration, The annual Buku Music and Art Project has left it’s mark on our hearts and souls yet again. Having returned to the beloved Mardi Gras World Convention Center in Nola, you can assure that things got a lil’ saucy, being that Mardi Gras festivities had concluded right before the start of the event. The sights and sounds of New Orleans encompass a wide range of characteristics; vast parts of the area are still in ruins from the catastrophic Katrina, implementing a lingering vibe of eeriness wherever you go. But do not confuse this city’s structure for sensitivity – the courageous colors of Creole blood pump intensely throughout every street corner, soul-food shop, and home – where there’s always a story to be told.
The story of Buku 2017 is without a doubt one of the best to date. There’s truly nothing like this downright infectious city-based festival that keeps us coming back each and every year. Perusing Bourbon Street with yardstick length frozen drinks, sinking your teeth into freshly-powdered Beignets, sucking the heads off a whole platter of Cajun crawfish, that’s the real way to do it – on the way to the festival, at least. Once those signature rusted powerplant towers are in eyesight, you can bet the bass has already begun bumping through your chest, and nobody is really ready for what’s in store next.
New Orleans native Unicorn Fukr was amongst the first sets to grace the Back Alley Stage, which is my personal favorite, due to it’s intimacy in size and jaw-dropping views of being nestled right upon the Mississippi River. Also, this year’s implementation of the Back Alley was an entirely different visual concept than previous years, giving it a fresh feel as though we’d never breached that area during prior Buku’s. Dishing out delectable beats ranging from tech-house to deep and minimal house, Unicorn Fukr’s sunSET took us for a hell of a ride beginning to end. The disco vibe came alive with tracks like Asad Rizvi’s “Boom”, “Typewriter” – Sonny Fodera & Inland Knights (Inland Knights Remix), and other funky, bouncy tunes, prepping the shufflers for the boots n’ pants in the evening.
TroyBoi packed out the Float Den one-by-one as he dropped massive bass bombs upon a crowd of headbanging maniacs, who were practically ripping the railing from the ground. His UK influences paired with the psychedelic atmosphere of the decked-out stage area created a picturesque scene for the music manipulator to gain momentum through drippy, trippy trap tracks.
A terrific trio of eclectic funkmasters flipped the script on the powerplant stage Friday evening, and these guys didn’t come to play games. GRiZMATIK (GRiZ and Gramatik) was joined by All Good labelmate Muzzy Bearr on guitar for an unforgettably live and exceptionally lit experience, chock-full of electro-soul and bass-heavy heaters like Gramatik’s “War of the Currents“, GRiZ’s “Wicked“, and “Good Times Roll” by GRiZ and Big G.
Someone you can always count on for a unique electronic journey is Big Wild. This gentle soul and California native is a man of many instruments, all which he has mastered to a tee. From keys to xylophone to various types of percussion, be it drumpads or sitting on his signature cajon, Jackson serenades the crowd through organic execution of fresh, futuristic bass music with a veil of tribal melodies. Popular tracks like “Aftergold” were heard, along with other selections from The Sound You Need and beyond.
A diabolical Dirtybird b2b ensued at the Back Alley stage when Justin Jay and Shiba San joined forces, showcasing the deep, ghetto-funk side of tech-house that Dirtybird has become notorious for.
Many attendees traveled far and wide to witness the killa killa brothers from Toronto known as Zeds Dead. Originating in dubstep and expanding into bass house and beyond, DC and Hooks destroyed their audience with songs like “Hadouken” (VIP), “Collapse“, and a delectable selection of Drum n’ Bass that the duo closed out with. If there’s anyone that knows how to go out with a bang, it’s ZD.
Clouds filled the gloomy skies of Nola on Saturday, March 11th, but who needs sunshine when you have bass? Intergalactic bass messiah aka Space Jesus teamed up with partner-in-crime Minnesota for what was perhaps the most pulverizing set of all weekend, maybe even of all-time. This dynamic duo took everyone by surprise with unreleased treasures from Yheti, Bleep Bloop, Liquid Stranger and more, including an absolutely disgusting remix of Rusko’s “Woo Boost” by Dirt Monkey that had people picking up their jaws off the floor. Infamous drops like “Hotplate” by Moody Good ft. Knytro and “Space Boss” by Liquid Stranger and Space Jesus rattled the Float Den to it’s very foundation in a bass-fueled frenzy.
Alina Baraz’s voice is as angelic as her face, sweeping us off our feet with every perfect verse uttered from her flawless face. Her divinity shone through on dreamy numbers such as “Fantasy“, “Can I“, and more from her Urban Flora EP produced with Galimatias.
Never have I seen a crowd more entranced by an artist than when REZZ threw down in the Float Den; her devious, lacerating form of electro-house roared at full volume while vortex visuals hypnotized her fans. Mesmerizing us with melodies like “Selector” and keeping things creepy with Marilyn Manson samples and Deadmau5’s “One Trick Pony“, it’s safe to say that we all came out of that set a slightly different entity. Her glasses are pretty sick too, btw.
Taking the stage immediately after REZZ and continuing the theme of dark and ominous yet upbeat musical style was Malaa, the masked house music warrior. If you saw him walking down a street, you might think he was going to rob a bank. But behind his DJ cell, the only thing Malaa is going to be stealing is your dignity from how hard you’ll be getting down, but we can assure you that his fans don’t mind a bit.
Tycho unsurprisingly strummed our heart strings via ambient electronic grooves, a stunning journey best experienced from the deck of the S.S. Buku in order to take in the whole atmosphere. Cool breezes buzzing, the Mississippi River rolling by, and Tycho crushing in the most gentle of ways, while seas of soft pinks and purples blanket the crowd. I had to pinch myself at least twice to ensure I wasn’t dreaming.
Kicking the heat up a notch after Tycho was another intense b2b session with heavy-hitting trap producer Herobust and bass house pioneer Ghastly. These guys were having equal amounts of fun as their listeners, smiling for miles as they obliterated the audience with smooth transitions and heavy drops like “Dirty Work” by Herobust, sprinkled with doses of high-energy house.
The man with the mouse head, aka the legendary Deadmau5, came out to play Saturday evening as he closed out the Powerplant area. Literally enTRANCing his fans with a whirlwind of climatic build-ups and strobe-like melodies, the iconic figure performed old favorites like “Maths“, “Deus Ex Machina” and many more, which took us on nostalgic auditory journey.
Pure magic ensued upon the S.S Buku as Brussels bassheads and SubCarbon Records founders Ganja White Night nearly sunk the ship with their infamously wonky and unmistakably wobbly electronic grooves. Joined by SubCarbon Records mate and New Orleans native Boogie T. who shredded guitar while performing a new collab between the trio, this set was a true highlight of the weekend and an unforgettable last set of the 6th annual Buku Music and Art Project.