5 Artists That Made BUKU Beautiful
Time to pack up your suitcases and purchase those flight tickets because festival season is officially upon us! Whether you’re basking in the Miami sun at Ultra, frolicking the woodlands of Electric Forest, or riding the carousel at EDC, every festival offers a unique experience for all attendees. If you’re a tourist at heart and want to experience life outside a music festival, then look no further than big-city festivals.
Among the list of sought-after city festivals is New Orleans’ beloved BUKU Music + Art Project. Taking place on the grounds of Mardi Gras World, festival-goers soaked up New Orleans’ invigorating culture, its delectable eats, vibrant art installations, and live music from your favorite artists all in one. Festival organizers provide attendees with a welcoming atmosphere that reflects the diverse and progressive lifestyle of New Orleans. With the city skyline one on end and the banks of the Mississippi River on the other, the scene was set for the ultimate urban playground. And after being canceled the past two years due to the pandemic, this year called for an epic comeback.
The inaugural BUKU festival took place in March 2012, making this year its 10th anniversary. The 2022 lineup overflowed with artists spanning the musical spectrum to celebrate the milestone. The lineup covered all bases with headlining performances from Tyler, The Creator, Tame Impala, and dance music idols Porter Robinson, REZZ, and Alison Wonderland.
BUKU Music + Art Project 2022 was nothing short of a memorable experience. The festival’s inclusive environment attracted a conglomerate of cultures, creating a safe space for us all to share our love for music. By having the freedom to express myself without fear of being judged, I felt right at home.
Although BUKU bills itself as a “Music and Art Project,” I felt it leaned heavily on the music. The production was minimal, and the opportunities to explore art and immersive activities were few and far between. When I wasn’t sampling the local cuisine or dancing to my favorite artists, much of my time was spent traveling from set to set. However, the musical performances were out of this world. After all, it is a music festival.
With that said, here are my top five favorite sets from BUKU 2022.
Denver-based DJ/Producer Daniel Goldstein, under the moniker Lane 8, is a master of ethereal beats and tranquil house music. Rather than composing upbeat club tracks, he focuses on writing songs that provide a sonic journey of emotions. And his BUKU set did just that. Closing out the Wharf stage on day two, his hour-long set was full of deep and serene vibes that carried you to cloud 9. His set presents you with a wide range of feels, from somber lows to blissful highs. I stood along the rail for his entire set, which provided an even more intimate experience. On stage, Lane 8 radiates infectious, positive energy with his smile and playful dance moves. His well-crafted instrumentals effortlessly blended with a myriad of angelic vocalists. Lane 8 is also known for prohibiting the use of cell phones during his performances, forcing the audience to be present in the moment and share a communal experience.
This Los Angeles-based DJ is the true “king” of heavy metal meets dubstep music. He proudly sits on top of the throne of versatility, as his musical talents are unmatched. Considered a triple threat for his impeccable mixing skills, guitar-playing, and fiery vocals, it’s safe to say Sullivan King was born to be an artist. As a ringleader for the metal-dubstep hybrid sound, his music pushes the boundaries of contemporary dance music. The foundation of his set was built upon raging, headbanging beats, with his shredding guitar and shrill screams scattered throughout. Utilizing pre-recorded loops allowed him to interact with the crowd and whip out his guitar for improvised solos. At an after-party the same night, he tweeted that his wife gave birth to his first child. Congratulations to Sullivan King on becoming a dad and for a kick-ass BUKU set.
Led by Australian multi-instrumentalist Kevin Parker, this psychedelic pop/rock band’s performance was a trippy, dream-like experience. With the use of effects like phasing, reverb, and distortion, Parker created original and innovative sounds right on stage. The kaleidoscopic visuals felt as if I was transported into a Jimi Hendrix music video. Parker’s crisp, atmospheric vocals and his ability to flawlessly mix songs were simply jaw-dropping. Outside of the musical production, it was a highly immersive and captivating show. Parker engaged with the audience throughout the entire set, sharing his humility and enthusiastic personality. His calm and sedative energy drove the performance from start to finish. The set ended with a bang as copious amounts of confetti poured over the crowd. Tame Impala was the perfect set to close out the main stage on day one.
I’ve had REZZ on my bucket list ever since she dropped her anthem “Edge” back in 2016, so I was stoked to cross her off my list. If you haven’t witnessed a set by REZZ before, prepare to be hypnotized by the one and only “Space Mom.” A mesmerizing sunset was the backdrop to her trippy visuals and well-executed light show teleporting me to another dimension. Her dark, authentic sound was manifested through her simplistic, stripped-down tracks. Not to mention the bone-rattling, subdued bass that resonated throughout your entire body. REZZ is not only a musician but also an actress on stage who never once broke character. With a stimulating stage presence, her ability to control the crowd was unlike any other DJ I’ve seen. Some say her sets disappoint due to her lack of mixing, but I disagree. She may not remix as much as other DJs, but her set isn’t about DJing. Instead, it’s about her aesthetic and extraordinary vibe that brings her music to life.
If you’re ready to sob uncontrollably, buckle up for a roller coaster ride of emotions at a Porter Robinson set. Fresh off his North American live tour, his mainstage BUKU set featured his highly-acclaimed sophomore album Nurture while sprinkling in fan favorites throughout. Whether you’re a die-hard Porter fan or only know classics like “Language” and “Shelter,” his compelling energy emanated through every song. Porter is the definition of a versatile musician. Featuring himself on vocals, piano, and synths, his performance incorporated his original works remixed on the spot. He created entirely new productions with this technique, leaving the audience with a breathtaking experience. Outside of his tear-jerking talents, his visual effects, animations, and overall stage production were just the icing on the cake. This was my first time seeing Porter Robinson live, and I will never miss the opportunity to see him live again.
Honorable mentions: John Summit, 100 Gecs, Moore Kismet, and Glass Animals