My Experience at Buku Fest 2022

On the second day of BUKU Music +  Art Project 2022, I arrived just after the gates opened. I was welcomed by a small crowd forming around the main Skyline stage for glbl wrmng, a New Orleans-based, BROCKHAMPTON-esque hip-hop/R&B group. glbl wrmng presented an intimate, jazz-infused performance with a memorable crowd interaction. Their first album, “glbl wrmng, vol. 1,” was released last February and featured their hit “504,” racking up over 600,000 streams on Spotify to date. 

I spent most of my time zigzagging between the Skyline and Bridge outdoor stages as the sun started to set. The brutal temperatures and characteristic humidity made it difficult to stand through some of the more underwhelming performances like Flo Milli, so we explored the beautiful art displays, live graffiti art and bidding. 

The last of the calmer sets was Glass Animals, who were nominated for a Grammy Award this past year in the Best New Artist category. Frontman Dave Bayley expressed his gratitude for his experience in New Orleans and delivered a powerful performance of their 2021 hit, “Heat Waves.” Glass Animals has been releasing music since 2014, beginning with their debut album “ZABA” and their sophomore record, “How To Be A Human Being.” “Gooey” and “The Other Side Of Paradise” launched the EDM group into popularity, enough for an extremely successful 2020 release entitled “Dreamland.” 

As the sun set over the Mississippi River and hip-hop headliners began their sets, the ramifications of last fall’s Astroworld tragedy seeped throughout the crowd. I recall rapper Vince Staples taking the stage and shouting, “nobody in the crowd is dead, and we are happy about that.” There was a great safety campaign displayed between sets, outlining nearby emergency exits, water stations and catchy slogans like “look out for your fellow Bukrewe.” 

Other hip-hop artists like Baby Keem and Tyler, The Creator would garner more aggressive crowds and mosh pits, but there seemed to be an underlying consciousness between festival goers and performers on the damage we are, unfortunately, capable of causing. 

Baby Keem surprised fans with an exciting performance of his feature on Ye’s “Praise God” from “Donda” and closed out with his now Grammy-winning “family ties,” featuring Kendrick Lamar, from his 2021 studio album, “The Melodic Blue.” The album also featured well-known songs like “durag activity” with Travis Scott and “trademark usa.” 

This was my third time seeing Tyler, The Creator. The GOLF le FLEUR designer claimed the stage with style through a theatrical and comical performance of his discography. His 2021 record, “Call Me If You Get Lost,” just won a Grammy in the Best Rap Album category. This is Tyler’s second win — he also earned a Grammy in the same category for his 2019 album, “Igor.” He’s been releasing records since 2011, debuting with “Goblin” and going on to release “Wolf” in 2013, “Cherry Bomb” in 2015 and “Flower Boy” in 2017. 

Overall, my experience at BUKU was of a much calmer and respectful crowd compared to my experiences at other music festivals like Governors Ball Music Festival and Rolling Loud. BUKU’s lineup had a well-rounded collection of performers, appealing to many different genres and audiences. The art component of the festival proved to showcase incredible regional talent. I hope to be back next year. 

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