New Orleans’ Buku Music + Art Project didn’t go as smoothly as its organizers would have liked, which is a shame because most of the issues weren’t their fault. After all, there’s not much you can do when three of the acts you booked—including rising young rapper Lil Uzi Vert—simply refuse to show up. There’s also not much you can do when your Friday night headliner (in this case, Atlanta rap superstars Migos) takes the stage half an hour late and delivers an underwhelming 25-minute set.
No, all you can really do is dwell on the things that didn’t go wrong, and also maybe think twice about booking disrespectful young mumble rappers next time around. Fortunately for Buku, plenty of things went exactly as they were supposed to, and most fans left the growing EDM and hip-hop festival in good spirits despite the few setbacks.
One set that went over very well was that of Saturday night’s big headliner, Bassnectar. Buku marked the pioneering DJ and producer’s first performance in the Big Easy since 2015, when he last held down the top-billing at the very same festival. Bassnectar’s combination of wobbly, almost psychedelic bass textures and skittish “drum and bass” breakdowns drew what was undoubtedly the largest crowd of the weekend to Buku’s newly-expanded main stage area, sending thousands of fans into a frenzy every time the music changed course. Decibally speaking, the show took things to a pretty high level, garnering noise complaints from exasperated New Orleanians on the other side of the Mississippi River.
Other acts on the bill at Buku included alternative R&B artist SZA, who delivered one of the weekend’s more interesting displays of pop music until she was forced to cut her set a few minutes short due to an ankle injury, and psych-rockers MGMT, who offered up a solid mix of new material and old favorites from their 2007 breakthrough album Oracular Spectacular. Of course, Buku lived up to its reputation by featuring some of the most popular acts in electronic music, with well-attended sets from Rezz, Borgore, Alison Wonderland, Ganja White Night/Boogie T, Mura Masa, and Porter Robinson, who appeared under his new Virtual Self moniker. Hip-hop and indie-pop also got their due, as Isaiah Rashad, Noname, Sylvan Esso, and Little Dragon brought their sounds to the fest.
Check out the full gallery below, courtesy of photographer Marissa Altazan.