Mar 19, 201310:22 AM
Lifestyles, Galas and Gaiety from St. Charles Avenue Magazine's Morgan Packard
The 2013 Buku Music + Art Project in Four Parts
I was lucky enough to attend this year’s BUKU Music + Art Project with three people whose perspectives are very divergent. Please enjoy our differing takes on this amazing festival.
Spaces and Places
By Michael Griffith
The BUKU Music + Art Project, now entering its second year, is coming to occupy a key niche in the New Orleans music scene. In addition to drawing big names to the Power Plant and Float Den stages, BUKU has managed to carve out a niche among the electronic acts for a sanctuary of emergent pop and independent groups. For me the highlights of the festival were these early evening performances on the Ballroom Stage. On Friday evening the Vancouver-based Japandroids brought their mighty noise to the river, completely owning their set and mesmerizing the hundred or so folks in attendance. Almost as soon as the reverb died down, Best Coast picked up the challenge the Japandroids threw down and delivered an imaginative surf rockesque set.
The highlight of the festival for me, however, was the arrival of Alt-J Saturday night. Even though they took the stage an hour late, the Cambridge quartet was certainly worth the wait. By the time the first cords of “Tessellate” rung out across the ballroom, the crowd was at rapt attention. Their sonic complexity was stunning. I look forward to watching them mature as a touring band, hopefully becoming more adept at arranging their songs for the stage.
As a festival, BUKU put on an impressive show; as a single venue, the Ballroom Stage was nearly perfect. In addition to the few short notes I’ve provided here, the stage also included Hundred Waters, STRFKR, Major Lazer and Dragonette to name just a few. The energy that these bands brought to the stage is a reminder of the importance of a strong mid-size venue – a space we have been lacking in New Orleans since the simultaneous loss of TwiRoPa, the State Palace, the Saenger and the Municipal Auditorium. We all look forward to watching BUKU grow, especially if the festival can continue to unite bands of this caliber with excellent performance spaces.
Everything Old is New Again
By Morgan Packard
There was one moment at BUKU where I noticed I was being photographed, then the photographer saw my press pass and made a face. She told me she had been excited to take a photo that would prove someone over 30 was enjoying the festival, but that the only ones of us she had seen were all members of the press.
Though “youth” was the prevailing trend, my friends and I were not alone in our enjoyment of the music at “our age.” I saw people of all ages who came out for the music. And a good deal of that music sent my memories straight back to high school. Public Enemy with the full group – including Flavor Flav with his now omnipresent clock and dancers in fatigues – took me back to school dances; the band Hundred Waters’ hauntingly surreal sound featuring female lead vocals would’ve fit right in with my singer/songwriter period; and Dragonette, who I love but wasn’t able to see live at BUKU, is ’80s pop-sugar-rock that’s reminiscent of bands I jumped around to in my bedroom during my “formative years.”
So while I did often feel old in the middle of a crowd (as well as over dressed), the music made me feel right at home while challenged; I discovered bands, DJs and melodies I hadn’t heard before and reveled in remembering songs I had long thought forgotten. And, in my opinion, that’s what music festivals should do.
The “Aging” DJ’s Mid-Life Crisis
By Jared Holden
There comes a time in the life of any artist, performer or musician when the new begins to creep in as a particular medium continues to evolve. In my case, it has been the radical shift in musical styles, accessibility and performance equipment. On any given night when I began DJing, we showed up to a gig with our records, we all played on the same equipment and we all performed for the same room of people. Your worth wasn’t just determined by your track selection, but by your technical proficiency as well. There were no sync buttons on our setups. There were no visual aids besides the actual look of a record and the way the vinyl was cut.
I will admit that I fought against the new guard about many things. DJ controllers that only require a laptop and an iTunes library, styles of music that I don’t really care for, and, honestly, the feeling of being way to old to be around any of this, all had me quite apprehensive about BUKU this year. However, I couldn’t have been more pleased with my experience. There was enough variety in the performers that everyone could find something they enjoyed. For me, Flying Lotus, Primus and Brassft Punk all in the same evening is perfect example of the new guard, the old guard and an “only possible in New Orleans” brass band tribute to one of dance music’s legendary acts. Personally, I can say that I’m no longer worried about the future of my beloved electronic music in my beloved city. With events like BUKU happening, I look forward to New Orleans embracing a style of music that’s mainstream popular “around the world.”
Resurgence of ’90s Fashion:
By Marisa Morton
With headliners like Primus and Public Enemy, the BUKU Music + Art Project’s throwback to the 1990s was in full swing this year, but the appeal of the vintage was hardly limited to the music. BUKU’s minimum entry age of 16 makes it a mecca for young fans that don’t just enjoy older musical acts, but also have pulled the fashions from these acts’ heydays into today. Scrunchies, fanny packs and acid-wash are back in, apparently. Check out how teens of 2013 are pulling cut-offs and flannel into the 21st century.