Written by Arooj Mustansir
After a whirlwind of heart stopping music and entertainment, the seventh annual Buku Music & Arts Project has sadly come to an end. This year held major growth and expansion for the New Orleans’ festival in terms of venue size as well as the massive headliners they brought out. However, they did not lose sight of the essence of the festival that makes it so special so the culture and vision of Buku is here to stay. Not only was the atmosphere this year vibrant as ever, but the performances were some of the best in the festival’s history. Here are our picks for the best acts this year.
It is difficult to comprehend the insanity that was Bassnectar’s performance at Buku but one word that comes to mind when reflecting on it is RAW. This was his first performance at the festival since 2015 so he made sure the highly-anticipated set was filled with greatness. The no holds bar set started off with his edit of Pharoahe Monch’s ‘Simon Says’ into a ‘Raw Charles’ mashup that set an unwaveringly heavy tone for the night. He then dropped a series of basshead favorites such as his ‘Cozza Frenzy Mega Bass Remix’, ‘Slather’, and ‘Hologram’ that kept the intensity and emotion of the crowd high. Bassnectar’s ability to weave in soft and beautiful melodies along with filthy tracks creates a one of a kind sonic journey and this set was epitome of that. It undoubtedly went down as one of the most monumental shows in Buku history.
French goddess Clozee never fails to mesmerize us with her distinct sound that is bass heavy and meshed with an exotic flavor. Her style combined with the warehouse vibes of the Float Den Stage gave this set an enchanting yet dark vibe that her other festival sets which usually take place outdoors do not hold. She has already taken this festival season by storm with her multiple performances at Okeechobee and those along this set prove that she is unstoppable and quickly climbing to the top. She even played at the after party at the Joy Theater that night which was just as versatile as her Buku set. Clozee is certainly a master at her craft and we cannot wait to see all of the remarkable shows she has in store for us this year!
3. Ganja White Night
The wobble brothers have picked up an immense following over the past few years and their performance at Buku showed that their popularity is well deserved. The captivating set was filled with their signature wobbly sound along with many tracks from their new ‘The Origins’ album. One of my favorite moments was when they dropped their new collaboration with Zeds Dead ‘Samurai’ because the emotive piano intro draws you in and the intense drop that follows is so unexpected, yet both aspects of the song complement each other in a truly impactful way. They played this along with many other new collaborations in the album with Caspa and Boogie T. What made this set even better was the fact that it was a back to back set with Boogie T whose infectious enthusiasm kept the energy alive the whole time. The exhilarating show turned the Float Den into a sweatbox and was without a doubt a crowd favorite at Buku.
4. Boogie T
We knew that Boogie T had some serious heat in store for his hometown festival but we were not expecting him to hit us this hard with such pure flame. The riddim extraordinaire has been on a roll lately from selling out multiple stops on his national Strikes Back tour with Squnto to becoming a staple in this year’s festival circuit. He has worked tirelessly to establish himself as one of the most promising electronic artists in the industry and his hard work is finally paying off. The most memorable moment that had everyone going wild was when he played his song ‘2KFO’ that has become one of this year’s biggest EDM anthems. He ended the night by headlining the sold Joy Theater after party which was full circle for him considering how much progress he has made over the past few years.
R&B artist SZA’s sultry and melodic tunes were a refreshing break from the predominantly electronic acts at Buku. The rising star debuted her first album ‘Ctrl’ last Summer and has already won multiple awards and landed herself on the Billboard Top 200 chart. SZA has managed to build such a huge following in a short amount of time because her touching lyrics about emotional struggles hit home for so many people. She commanded the crowd with her sultry voice and her soul roots shined through every song. New Orleans has a rich history with R&B style music so SZA’s style was the seamlessly fit in. With the amount of love she received during her performance and the massive growth in her career right now I would not be surprised if she becomes a returning act at the festival.