Between Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest
Live Coverage photograph
Well, Mardi Gras has come and gone, and believe it or not festival season is upon us already. We kick things off in style with the BUKU Music + Art Project on March 11-12 at Mardi Gras World. This festival has matured from its rather humble origins into a premier showcase of contemporary talent. Perhaps the best feature of this event is the curatorial care with which the organizers select performers and coax interesting showcases and match ups. For instance, this year Pretty Lights (Derek Smith) will be doing a live band performance in lieu of a DJ set. Or if you’re interested in something a bit more local, Mystikal, Juvenile and Fly Boi Keno will be doing a joint B2B (back to back) set. These acts join sensations such as CHVRCHES, Fetty Wap and Tokimonsta for two solid days of excellent music. A further example is the addition of Purity Ring (one of my favorite bands on the scene) in the final lineup announcement. BUKU will be the perfect platform for their overwhelming visuals. There are also some VIP surprises in store for this year; see the sidebar for more details.
As if BUKU were not enough, there are a number of excellent indie shows coming through town this month. On March 2, Juan Wauters will be at Siberia. Wauters has a simple elegance to his music that’s reminiscent of late 1950s folk. One can hear the heavy influence of acts like Simon and Garfunkel throughout his most recent release Why Me? These short, punchy songs almost demand audience participation. They are a perfect fit for Siberia.
If you fancy something a bit punkier, New Jersey-based indie punks Titus Andronicus will be at Gasa Gasa on March 6. Titus’s 2015 release The Most Lamentable Tragedy was one of the top records of last year. They are currently touring with Craig Finn from The Hold Steady. Finn released his second solo record Faith in the Future last year. These excellent story songs and the energy of Titus will fit perfectly together for a complete evening.
Gasa Gasa really goes on a tear toward the end of the month. The music begins on March 13, with local experimental rockers Woozy and the visiting Two Inch Astronaut. On the 14th, Luke Rathborne will be there with Twin Limb. Rathborne has a strong garage rock vibe combined with an excellent vocal timbre. His sophomore record Soft was released last year to critical acclaim. The streak continues on the 26th with Australia-based Smith Street Band accompanied by Hard Girls and the Worriers. All three of these young bands are producing outstanding music and touring hard. The Worriers released an especially catchy record last year with Imaginary Life.
With BUKU acting as an anchor in the middle of March, this month has become a veritable feast of young independent artists. Time to get out and start training for the marathon that is Jazz Fest.
Note: Dates are subject to change. Playlist of mentioned bands available at: bit.ly/InTune3-16
BUKU’s VIP Experience
One of the things that sets BUKU apart is the playfulness with which they approach the VIP experience. I was able to catch up with co-founder Dante Dipasquale for his thoughts on the space. “You can watch the main stage from the top deck of the boat, which is the coolest view of the festival for sure,” he says. “These performances are truly unique to the VIP patrons. Not only is this the only place to see the artists, but you’re right there with a couple of hundred other people watching the show.” He is most excited about being able to get Chicago-based future art ensemble Autograf to play in this unique space. This promises to be one of the festival’s best performances and a great year to upgrade the BUKU experience. Keep an eye on the web for interviews with performers and more of my interview with Dipasquale in coming weeks.