With Mardi Gras behind us and Jazz Fest ahead of us, March is an interesting time in New Orleans. The arrival of the spring thaw tends to see more acts on the road and over the past few years the BUKU Music + Art Project (a joint project of Winter Circle and HUKA Entertainment) has stepped in to help bridge this gap. The festival (held March 13-14 this year) is a fascinating hybrid of music festival and art installation (read more in Spotlight, pg. 23).
The event balances indie rock with EDM and artistic creation to convert Mardi Gras World into a continually evolving feast for the senses. One of the best aspects of BUKU is that the relatively small size (compared to festivals like Bonnaroo or Jazz Fest) allows attendees to get up near the performers and artists. This year the promoters have managed to land several of the biggest acts touring this year along with some diehard favorites of the festival scene.
Hip-hop duo Run the Jewels (whose Run the Jewels 2 was one of my favorite albums of last year) will begin a long summer of festival shows at BUKU. This duo is rewriting the very DNA of hip-hop with their current work. In addition to RtJ make sure to catch A$AP Rocky, the Harlem-based A$AP Mob has been indomitable on the scene over the past few years. For a different interpretation of the contemporary hip-hop scene, stop by BadBadNotGood. This Toranto-based outfit blurs the line between jazz and improvisation, hip-hop and electronica. Another band with an excellent release last year is TV on the Radio (TVoTR). The indie rock outfit has returned after a four year silence with an outstanding new record, Seeds. A spiritual companion to TVoTR, Portugal, the Man will also play the festival. Taken together these bands represent the darkly melodic, experimental side of the indie rock scene. For something a little showier, don’t miss the Australian electronic duo Empire of the Sun. The intensity of their rhythms is accompanied by highly stylized costumes, dances and theatrics. Think 1980s glam with an Australian attitude updated for the new millennium (trust me, it’s great). Finally, check out the emerging artist Raury. This Atlanta-based singer, songwriter and rapper is fresh off his collaboration with SBTRKT last year. There is a subtle complexity in his music that belies the simplicity of his sound. You will be seeing this 18-year-old again in much larger venues.
Honestly, one cannot go wrong at BUKU; there’s a little something of everything and an environment that matches the intensity of the music.
Note: Dates are subject to change. Playlist of mentioned bands available at: bit.ly/InTune3-15
Three to Try
In non-BUKU related news, there are a few other excellent shows to mention this month. Make sure to catch Sylvan Esso at Tipitina’s on the March 26. I have talked up this band quite a bit over the last year; this time they return to do their first large location show in the area. Also check out Son Lux (Ryan Lott) at Gasa Gasa on the 21st. Lott (himself a former member of Kurt Vile’s Violators) is fresh from his recent Sisyphus collaboration with Sufjan Stevens and Serengeti. You can count on an eclectic night of post-rock from Lott’s engrossing shows.