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The 2014 BUKU Music + Art Project

by Photos and Words by Wesley Hodges and John Stephens on March 31, 2014

The 2014 BUKU Music + Art Project

Mardi Gras World

New Orleans, LAMarch 21 and 22

FRIDAY, MARCH 21, 2014

It’s usually around year three when a new player on the American festival circuit begins to fully form its identity and fans can start to get a sense of whether the event will be around for the long haul or not. For over a decade the trio of Jazz Fest, French Quarter Fest and the Voodoo Experience have stood out as NOLA's three major events on a crowded festival landscape. After the weekend we just enjoyed in the Big Easy, it’d be a big surprise to not see this return in 2015 and continue to stake a viable claim as a worthy event overflowing with youthful exuberance and boundary-pushing artists.

With a fantastic setting near the Warehouse District of NOLA, The BUKU Music + Art Project has a lot of things going for it and this year’s event was once again staged in a bucolic early-Spring setting along the Mississippi River and graced with a pair of picture perfect days. The lineup once again boasted several of the biggest and most exciting names in the electronic, hip-hop, and indie scenes over the course of two days at Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World. Continue below for a rundown of some of the more memorable sets at BUKU 2014.

Bone Thugs-n-Harmony

It’s been a long time since Bone Thugs had a hit record or landed a song on the charts. Given the fact that the Cleveland quartet is now celebrating their 20th Anniversary (making those in attendance familiar with the rap collective feel very old), the late afternoon set was exactly what it was intended to be: one hell of a quick and bawdy nostalgia trip. Their unmistakable melodic, fiery style was on full display right out of the gate as the live quartet came out guns blazing and the set served as the first substantial main stage draw of the weekend. Hits like “Mo Murda”, “Tha Crossroads” and “Budsmokers Only” and tributes to Biggie and Eazy E engendered a jovial atmosphere and the endless barrage of hits reminded us of why this group was and still is one of the most influential hip-hop acts of all-time.


Nostalgia is a powerful drug, and when a rapper like NAS flows onstage with his hits from as far back as the 90’s – including ‘You Can Hate Me Now’ – the nostalgia kicks in royally. The Power Plant Stage served as a perfect setting for the real depth that NAS’ lyricism has to offer, those which convey some sort of problem-child transcendence into success in the face of an otherwise tarnished offering of the American Dream. Basically, NAS proved that he still has the power of hype and the essence of self-affirmation, the combination of which made for a pretty colossal show.

Sleigh Bells

Truth: sound is energy and energy can be used to influence the behavior of others to act in a particular way. Thankfully for us, Sleigh Bells utilized its classic punch of overdriven Marshall stacks along with Alexis Krauss’s prodigious pipes to amass mighty amounts of energy, thus forcing those in the crowd to rage gallantly beyond expectation. Visceral, jarring and highly danceable, Sleigh Bells brought a heaviness and raw intensity that wouldn’t be matched during the weekend. The Float Den (a huge warehouse containing a number of massive Mardi Gras floats) was easily the coolest venue at BUKU, adding to the allure of this set. Honestly, I’ll sign up to be the band’s own personal voodoo doll if it means I’ll be continuously prompted to thrash like a triumphant madman, and after this particularly epic show in New Orleans, perhaps the voodoo concept isn’t too farfetched.

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Authors: Photos and Words by Wesley Hodges and John Stephens