Buku Music + Art Project to Paint New Orleans Purple

Ben Shooter, Staff Reporter

Jazz Fest may loom in the near future, but right now residents of New Orleans should be excited about the Buku Music and Art Project, which will grace the city March 13-14. The event is rather unique in design. Not only is Buku a music festival with multiple stages and a plethora of prominent electronic, rap, and rock musicians, but it also showcases visual art. Perhaps it is best described as a celebration of creativity. 

Friday’s lineup boasts modern rap phenomenon A$AP Rocky, known for his incredibly smooth flow and combination of hip-hop elements from Harlem, New York and the Houston screwed-and-chopped scene. His hits like “Goldie” and “Wild for the Night” have essentially captured the braggadocio of the modern popular hip-hop landscape.

Empire of the Sun, an Australian act known for its combination of electronic grooves with live guitars and its penchant for unusual onstage costumes will also be featured as a headliner.

One of the more outlandish performances will come from Die Antwoord, a South African rap duo whose live show owes as much to old-school Marilyn Manson as it does to any rap influences. The group is lyrically offensive and musically infectious.

Breaking up the group of musical performers on Friday is Portugal. the Man, a quirky Alaskan rock band that specializes in memorable melodies. Its placement makes sense for a festival that also incorporates visual art, as guitarist and vocalist John Gourley often integrates his visual art into the design of Portugal. the Man’s live shows.

Saturday will showcase the distorted dance grooves of Bassnectar, an artist who in recent years has gained something of a cult following, and whose music employs sampling, unusual timbres and bass drops. Massachusetts synth-pop group Passion Pit, perhaps the Buku act with the most mainstream appeal, will perform a set as well.

Saturday’s lineup also includes a few other acts relying less on electronics and more on live instrumentation. TV on the Radio, a Brooklyn-based rock band driven by crunchy guitars and crisp pop vocals, and Sweet Crude, a percussion-powered local favorite, will balance the genres.

“It’s always been a good time,” senior Elise Ingber said. “They bring an eclectic mix of artists to New Orleans that normally don’t come through. It’s a younger crowd than most local festivals and the experience is unmatched in terms of acoustics.”

One of the artistic elements setting Buku apart from other festivals is the project its guest artists create. Referred to as a Live Gallery, the project brings together 17 artists who, over the course of the event, will create new paintings on large boards, which are mounted on scaffolding for the audience to observe. The Live Gallery has often been geared toward colorful graffiti art. Artists participating this year include Dvote and Lionel Milton, who has previously designed posters for New Orleans’ Voodoo Fest.

The final component in the Buku Project’s creative celebration is “Kulture,” which recognizes street performers from New Orleans and has them performing in special locations for the audience.

Tulane freshman Paul Katzmann said he is excited for the festival. 

“Buku does a great job of integrating visual arts through its colorful stages and art, music and other art forms,” Katzmann said. “I’m particularly excited to see Die Antwoord, Robert DeLong, and BadBadNotGood because of their reputations as performers more than as musicians.”