Photos and story by: Sterling Martin
The BUKU Music + Art Project took over NOLA earlier this month, and was packed full of non-stop music, good times and great people. This year BUKU completely sold out even travel packages, making the weekend even more special to those lucky enough to attend.
The birthplace of jazz was fully prepared for the two-day festival, as New Orleans is no stranger to larger than life events that attract tourists and people from all over the world.
The gates opened at 2:30 on Friday afternoon. People rushed through security, eager to explore their temporary getaway for the weekend. Early on it was deemed necessary to walk—even run—faster than everyone around you, in fear of missing the next act.
Among the first electronic acts on Day One was Honolulu native Mr. Carmack. The producer played various originals and remixes popular songs to start the day in proper motion. His set was in the FLOAT DEN, a warehouse used for storing Mardi Gras floats, which were displayed around the sides of the venue.
Following Carmack was a special performance on the POWER PLANT STAGE by Robert Delong. He greeted people still flooding through the front gates with his vocal-infused, hard hitting beats. The way he utilizes live drums and other instrumentation gives him a rare sound and has gained him tons of popularity.
He was followed by back-to-back sets in the FLOAT DEN by ZOMBOY and RL Grime, who both put on impressive sets. Both are known for their unique ways of interlacing heavy, dubstep basses with samples, whether it’s a simple vocal loop or a sound taken from a Street Fighter video game.
Just after sunset, Empire of the Sun hit the POWER PLANT stage. Dancers in futuristic, spacey costumes that were lined with colorful lights accompanied the band and added to the overall hi-tech look on stage. Fast paced synth-pop tracks could be heard throughout the festival grounds, as flashy front man Luke Steele would unleash sexy guitar riffs, propelling everyone to dance.
The night pressed forward, and the rush from set to set continued to grow. While trap lords FLOSSTRADAMUS (pictured below) were putting on an unforgettable performance, Thomas Jack and Jamie Jones both played in the BACK ALLEY underneath the stars and lights of the Crescent City Connection Bridge. Decisions, decisions…
As midnight approached, anticipation for South-African rap/rave group Die Antwoord’s set became apparent as people flocked into the FLOAT DEN early. Yolondi and Ninja, with the help of DJ Hi-Tek in a disgusting bucktooth mask, brought with them a creepy, uneasy atmosphere that is nearly impossible to describe—it was perfect for Friday the 13th. The same can't be said for the critical response to their roles in Chappie.
The trio is known for destroying dance floors and leaving people speechless wherever they go. DJ Hi-Tek plays a prominent role in their recorded work as well, often breaking down into house-type rave beats that are perfect for dancing—another key to their overwhelming worldwide success.
While Die Antwoord kept things going in the FLOAT DEN, funk-master Gramatik (pictured in the middle) took over the BALLROOM STAGE. Songs of both old and new were performed, with that extra-special pizzazz we’ve come to expect from Gramatik. Joining him on-stage were trumpet, sax and keys maestro Russ Liquid (left) and the guitar maven Andrew Block (right), both solo LOWTEMP artists themselves. Of course the surprises didn’t end there, as GRiZ made an appearance for a quick Grizmatik session. Their high-energy performance was a perfect way of officially bringing night one to a close.
The BUKU LATE installments offered after-parties for those not satisfied and still wanting to rage. We caught the JOY THEATRE sets, which featured both GRiZ and a late night set from Ryan Hemsworth.
GRiZ featured a special collaboration with the Preservation Hall Brass section. He dished out tons of universal, older funky tunes that were accented perfectly with the live instrumentation. Near the end of his performance, “Play that Funky Music White Boy” rang throughout the theatre, after proving that the funk is still very much alive.
Last but certainly not least, Canadian DJ/producer Ryan Hemsworth kept the party going until after 4am. His melodic, ever-changing sounds were perfect for those still dancing as well as for the sitting, fatigued from the long day.
With Day One complete, sleep was necessary for the eventful day right around the corner. Stay tuned for our coverage of Day Two at The BUKU and Arts Project!
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