Festival Vs After Party
Buku Music and Art Project hosted an eclectic lineup of artists, satisfying any music genre taste. Taken place in New Orleans, this music driven city truly lives up to its name as one of the best party cities in the country. Even though the festival ended at 1 AM, the night was still young and lined with tons of after parties to keep you dancing all night.
Many of the artists performing at Buku took part in these after parties, and it gave me a chance to compare the festival to the late night events.
Friday: Friday’s lineup started out strong with heavy hitters by the likes of G Jones, My Nu Leng and Break Science. Break Science played a very interesting disco-fuck type set and drew a big crowd into the Ballroom early on. I could watch Deitch tear up the drums any time, whether it’s with Break Science, Lettuce, or even if it was on a set of buckets on the street. He’s truly mesmerizing to watch and does it totally effortlessly. The Ballroom stayed heated as Mystikal, Fly Boi Keno, and Juvenile later took to the stage to spit some of their hip-hop classics. Over in the Front Yard, the Kompression Showcase displayed their sound of deep house grooves and contagious bouncy bass lines. This stage was hidden and I only discovered it after hearing house music vibrate my porta potty, however once discovered, I’d say the front yard was one of Buku’s best kept secrets. A dj took the the decks rocking a Dirtybird & Void Acoustics shirt which reminded me I had to run over to the Front Yard where two of Dirtybird’s finest, J. Philip and Kill Frenzy, were throwing down a special b2b set.
I got there 10 minutes into the set and asses were already bouncing to some classic Dirtybird-esque booty-tech.The gloomy outdoors and heavy rainfall earlier in the day wasn’t stopping anyone from going all out for Buku. All the way back over on the other side of the festival grounds, Kid Cudi rocked the the Power Plant stage, followed by Griz closing out night one in the Float Den. The crowd at Griz was so massive that you couldn’t even make your way in from the back. I was beyond hyped of his set going into the start of the day after friends who caught him on his latest tour told me that it was a must see performance. I must admit though that I was not too impressed. My music tastes have definitely changed and maybe I’m a little biased, but I’ve grown out of liking tracks that have long build ups leading into crazy drops. Knowing Griz, I thought I was in for a funky soulful set, but it was a little too “trappy” for my taste. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed hearing some of those classic Griz tracks like ‘Stop Trippin’ ft iDA HAWK, but I guess you could call me old school for preferring to hear the sax in a live band setting, rather than over electronic music. Nevertheless, I knew at that point the after party was going to be dope!
Before the festival started, I was most excited for Friday’s after party. BUKU organized an All-Star studded live band, comprising of members of different duos and bands, all coming together to improvise a totally original collaboration set in the early hours of the morning at the famous Joy Theater. The band was made up of Adam Deitch (Lettuce & Break Science), Borahm Lee (Break Science), Eric Bloom (Lettuce), Eric Krasno (Soulive), Eric Vogel (Big Sam’s Funky Nation), Griz, and Russ Liquid, along with a special appearance from Mystikal. There was no doubt in my mind that this set alone could possibly rank higher than the festival itself.
The all-star show was a decent hike from the festival grounds but was luckily only a 5 minute walk from my hotel. I made a quick pit stop after the festival to change out of my soaked through socks, shoes, and hoodie. I cracked a beer open and made my way to the venue.
Starting at 2 AM, the band led off with some great funk jams and covers of Lettuce tunes, with the sounds of Russ Liquid and Borham incorporated. Mystikal then graced the stage, who brought me way back to my childhood by belting out two of his classics, including a groovy rendition of ‘Shake Ya Ass’, followed by his most recent release ‘Feel Right’. Hearing those tracks already made this night a memorable one and I knew there was still a lot of show left. Right before Griz took the stage, I luckily found a seat in the balcony of the theater, which was a blessing after the long day of walking. The setting couldn’t have been anymore perfect. Comfy seats, and Griz boutta make things real saxy for a minute. After some quick soloing action between Griz and Bloom, the trumpet-sax blend jammed into a funky rendition of Griz’s The Anthem. Joy Theater was absolutely rocking by this point. Griz’s smooth sax mixed with the ecstatic funk and groovy bass notes was a perfect blend of creativeness and skill. The party didn’t end there though. Alvin Ford Jr, the drummer from Dumpstaphunk and NOLA native replaced Deitch on the kit for a tasty jam. Once the night came to an end, I was left craving more. The innovation these artists put into their performance is why they are named as Buku’s all-stars, so it’s needless to say Friday’s after party definitely won BUKU Day 1.
Saturday: Waking up just a couple hours before day two of Buku, I was feeling the hurt from the night, but was still buzzing from that unreal all-star jam. The number one thing on my mind to motivate me through the day was the promise of a Dirtybird after party. J. Philip and Kill Frenzy kept my feet moving during their whole set so I was ready for another episode of dirty beats. This time however, J. Philip was set to play her own slot, with Kill Frenzy swapping out for fellow Dirtybird label mate, Mark Starr, who just so happened to be that guy in the Dirtybird shirt who was spinning in the Front Yard. I found this out after I bumped into him in the front of the crowd at Kill Frenzy and J. Philip’s b2b set.
I knew another full day of Buku was going to take a toll on my body but it was nothing a little house music couldn’t remedy. The lineup for Saturday was not as impressive for me as Friday was. I spent the majority of the day hanging out at the Back Alley stage where most of the house DJ’s were scheduled. Le Youth, Julio Bashmore, SNBRN, and Sam Feldt kept me stuck in a trance as the Back Alley vibes were contagious. However, as the day grew on, I felt the fatigue from going hard the night before, and knew it was in my best interest to refuel and rest up before the late night shenanigans began that night. I left Buku a little early, after getting a mind blowing introduction to local New Orlean’s band New Thousand, as well as experiencing a magical closing to the Pretty Light’s Live Band set with a remix of ‘Finally Moving’. I left feeling satisfied with the music I saw and the experience I had for being my first time at the festival.
Squeezing a large meal and a quick cat nap in, the struggle was definitely real, and it took a lot of rallying to get myself in gear for long hours of heavy bass and constant dancing that were ahead of me. The after party was at a two story bar in the French Quarter called Dragon’s Den. The venue had multiple DJ booths set up throughout. Front room, back chill section, and an upstairs. Walking through the venue, it was easy to pick out where Dirtybird artists were playing purely from the unique sounds they are known for; hard hitting double kick drum and fat, clean sounding bass lines. Mark Starr led the night off with a 2-hour set, laying down some serious heat to set the perfect scene. The venue had a great late night underground house feel. It was hot and sweaty, but I could feel the floor bouncing from bass and dancing. There was the perfect amount of space in between each person to let loose and get into the groove of of the bass line.
J. Philip took over the tables around 4:00 AM and at that point I was just about ready to drop but I knew I wouldn’t be able to live with the regret of not staying for the sauciness that was about to ensue. Sure enough, she delivered a set to remember well into the morning, and surprisingly the crowd got even bigger. It was a surreal scene as it was dark with just one changing colored light behind the DJ booth, giving it this underground aura like it was a 90’s warehouse rave. It was 6:30 AM when I had to throw in the towel, even though the party was still raging past sunrise. Unfortunately, I had to call it quits, but I can definitely say that my house cravings were well taken care of and then some! Since both BUKU itself and the After Party sets were lit, I’ll give Day 2 a tie.
Going to festivals is one of my favorite hobbies and I have never left a festival without unforgettable memories and stories I’ll be telling my friends for years to come. Buku has added to that list of stories with some of its own. Overall, Buku did a great job putting together a diverse lineup, in a great venue, full of originality and southern hospitality vibes that were contagious. The artwork was beautiful and shone beauty on New Orlean’s true colors. The after parties organized by Buku competed with the festival itself, which goes to show how much effort is really scheduled into everything from early day until early morning. I would absolutely attend Buku again if given the opportunity, especially now that I am prepared to handle the sauce NOLA instills.