Everyone’s favorite two-day March musical extravaganza, the 2019 BUKU Music + Art Project on March 22 and 23, is a week and a half away and packs a lineup that slaps.
A beacon of Spring in New Orleans, the two-day music and arts festival was founded in 2012 by Winter Circle Productions and is held annually at Mardi Gras World. Headlining this year is festival queen Lana Del Rey, alongside the Red Stick’s very own should-be-honorary-tiger Kevin Gates, Dog Blood ft. EDM faves Skrillex and Boys Noize, Excision, GRiZ, RL Grime, Louis The Child, Ella Mai and NOLA-homegrown $UICIDEBOY$.
BUKU stands out from other festivals by providing the fest experience in a house party setting. Past performers include Avicii, Deadmau5, Wiz Khalifa, Bassnectar, Calvin Harris, David Guetta, Ellie Goulding, Zedd, Pretty Lights, Travis Scott and Migos, establishing a wide range of genres from electronic to hip hop music that has guaranteed guests a well-rounded musical encounter.
BUKU also stands out because it serves as a platform junction for pop culture, international musicians, the New Orleans arts community and local food vendors. Festival goers can experience traditional New Orleans eats while also enjoying fun culinary surprises.
BUKU’s Marketing Manager and LSU alumna Marie Roussel said this will be the biggest BUKU to date greatly in part due to the overflowing talent.
“We've made some adjustments to the layout to maximize the space,” Roussel said. “Also, the lineup is just stacked from top to bottom. BUKU is currently Lana Del Rey's only U.S. performance, which is a pretty big deal. But definitely take the time to discover artists toward the bottom of the billing because the level of talent is so deep this year.”
While the musical aspect is the main attraction for festival attendees, the lesser known arts component of the festival is an integral part that sets up the industrial, psychedelic atmosphere.
“A lot of the large scale art installations — Fort BUKU, Water Tower, Tree — and stage designs for the Float Den and Wharf come from our friends at Raven PMG. The Live Gallery is definitely our key art feature,” Roussel said. “All of the artists are either local or connected to New Orleans someway and we have a mix artists that are graffiti writers and muralists.”
Pieces from the Live Gallery are live-auctioned on Saturday night with the proceeds being split between the artist and BUKU's partner charity, Upbeat Academy. This provides a way festival-goers can take a piece of the experience home with them to cherish.
For New Orleans bass music duo Sfam, comprising Jacob Hoerner and Michael Pearson, the festival offers an idiosyncratic atmosphere that distinguishes it from other festivals.
“BUKU is a fantastic festival,” Sfam said. “They're always on top of everything and really easy to work with. Obviously, we're a little biased since we live here but there's just a certain vibe this festival has that others don't. It's super industrial and on the Mississippi River. One of the stages houses floats for Mardi Gras. Can't get more New Orleans than that for people visiting from out of town.”
Joining Sfam is local act Trombone Shorty Academy comprising Trombone Shorty Foundation students, who will be at BUKU 2019 for the very first time and whose music style is something you might hear at a second line parade in the streets of New Orleans. Executive Director Bill Taylor said they could not be more excited.
“Our students perform music that is very New Orleans — brass band, jazz, funk,” Taylor said. “This will them up to a new audience and new styles of music. When different styles are brought together, amazing outcomes seem to happen.”
While the taste of local artistry adds a homemade flavor to BUKU, not all performers hail from the festive Big Easy. San Fernando Valley native Amahl Abdul-Khaliq, better known as AF THE NAYSAYER, is a BUKU veteran whose sets will be available to VIP guests only. Abdul-Khaliq described his music as the soundtrack of a western-influenced Japanese Dreamcast game and said he is perhaps the only act to three-peat consecutive performances at the festival.
Lastly, it wouldn’t be a completely immersive experience in Louisiana if it didn’t include some purple and gold. Also reppin’ New Orleans is LSU philosophy graduate Erik Browne, aka Unicorn Fukr, who began his career during his time at the University when he took over the Antipop Radio Show at KLSU and began promoting events.
“BUKU definitely holds a special place in my heart, as I’ve seen it grow from an idea to the huge festival it is today,” Browne said. “I’ve known the Winter Circle Productions guys since they first started doing events in the local NOLA scene. And I’ve been involved in the fest in various capacities every year.”
Last year’s festival completely sold out, drawing in approximately 17,500 guests daily. With this year’s tickets sold out in their entirety after the release of the daily schedule, interested parties would be out of luck were it not for the newly announced partnership of BUKU Music + Art Project with Newport Beach-based company FlipTix.
FlipTix is a groundbreaking ticketing platform, which includes a mobile and web app, that lets ticketholders who leave an event early “flip” or sell the remaining time on their ticket to a buyer outside the venue. FlipTix now allows BUKU attendees to recoup value for unused time if they leave the festival early by selling the remainder of their time to new fans who purchase it.
FlipTix will also be the event’s exclusive sponsor for non-primary ticketing, making it the only ticketing company to be listed as an official partner. If you’ve already got your ticket, we’ll see you there. Otherwise, may the odds be ever in your favor to score a golden Flip or the 2019 BUKU Music + Art Project.