We flew in weary from Miami, fresh off of a long work week, tired and excited, young, a little innocent. The Buko Music & Art Project was the goal and the "angle" would write itself: in a city with more festivals than days, Buku catered to a niche New Orleans sometimes ignored: EDM, or electronic dance music. There'd be an eclectic mix of electronic acts, hip-hop, jam-bands; a younger crowd than Jazz Fest or Voodoo. There was a party on the river, north of the city, on a boat, and in warehouses at Mardi Gras World. Easy. We got this.
As tradition, we began at the Hotel Montelone's Carousal Bar for a couple of Bloody Mary's. We were then lucky enough to visit the Lower 9th Ward with a graduate level Architecture class as auditors. By the time we arrived at the festival, we felt acclimated and in many ways home. Buku only added to the vibe.
They had it together. In their third year, the festival is coming into its own. There were four stages, a few in warehouses, one on a boat and another outside with the backdrop of a Power Plant. The music and drinks flowed, the sound seemed under control, security and production was organized.
It was dope.
It's fair criticism to say they overplayed the Art Project -- it was just a three tiered graffiti wall without much context or artistic substance, but everything else at Buku was executed with ease. The crowd seemed happy and unpretentious. In the Float Den the sound and energy dropped hard. The S & S Buku, a docked Riverboat that served as a VIP lounge with performances was truly nuanced and special. Paper Diamond stood out. As did Nas, Ellie Goulding and definitely the Flaming Lips, who really are special performers. These examples should illustrate the festival's range.
At the end of the weekend, I can say Merci, Buku -- because, honestly they did their job. It's not their fault I lost my phone and notes on the festival. It's not their fault I drank so much Monster and Red Bull my heart's still pulsing at an irregular beat. It's certainly not Buku's fault someone slipped "white fluff" LSD into my Monster and Red Bull even though I specifically denied the nice invitation to partake in the venture. It's not their fault I lost my girlfriend and wound up back stage of the Float Den wandering around a pantheon of retired Mardi Gras float paraphernalia.
They didn't promote the fear; it didn't come on a certain time at a certain stage. They didn't want me to hide in my rental car for two-and-half hours until I finally decided to confess to a cop who miraculously didn't arrest me but put me in a cab and sent me off to Magnolia Street in the Freret, where my friends stayed. I made it home, to the gothic gods and goddesses on my side that evening.
I even found my girlfriend and iPhone.
So I guess there's a silver lining. A merci to a buku. It just took awhile to find it.