BUKU Music + Art Project

This Friday and Saturday the BUKU Music + Art Project returns to Mardi Gras World for its seventh year.  For this installment the festival has expanded to take over the large field in front of the riverfront grounds that was traditionally the home of the box office.  The Power Plant stage will take up residence in this new space to provide some greatly needed elbow space for the rest of the festival.  I’m pretty excited about this development.  There is always a great collection of talent at BUKU but at peak times the event could feel a bit claustrophobic. 

Friday is headlined by Migos, SZA and MGMT.  SZA had one of the truly excellent albums of last year.  She is part of a group of musicians pushing out at what has traditionally defined R&B as a genre.  If you get there early check out Bishop Briggs on the Power Plant stage.  If you’re more of a late nighter, Flatbush Zombies at midnight in the Ballroom is going to be wild.  In between, Alison Wonderland in the Float Den is a can’t miss. 

Saturday is headlined by Bassnectar, Lil Uzi Vert and ILLENIUM (playing Awake live).  You can also catch performances from Sylvan Esso, Borgore and Little Dragon.  If you’re there early the pick is clearly Chicago based rapper Noname.  The late night pick is definitely Isaiah Rashad join the Ballroom.  If you’ve seen Sylvan Esso, float over to Princess Nokia for another standout performer. 

The fun of BUKU is the eclectic nature of both the schedule and the audience.  There is a little bit of something for everyone and the people watching can’t be beat.  Hang out, catch some music, watch the art installations take shape.  It’s a great way to spend the weekend. 


Fleet Foxes at the Orpheum

After two critically successful records including an absolutely stunning debut, incubating the creation of Josh Tillman’s Father John Misty persona, and a equally acclaimed reunion record, the Fleet Foxes have taken to the road again.  The Orpheum was made for this school of Baroque pop.  Here we have one of the most widely influential groups from the first part of this century performing in a venue that is tailored to their sound.  In many ways the Fleet Foxes helped build momentum for the emergence of new sincerity in music.  There are surprisingly still tickets left, grab them while you can.


Ezra Furman at One Eyed Jacks

On Tuesday night Ezra Furman brings his Transangelic Exodus Tour into One Eyed Jacks.  Furman’s new record is an examination of his personal journey.  I caught up with him by email to ask a bit about the evolution of the new record. 

For Furman the album grew organically, “Writing songs is hard work for me. I wrote tons of songs leading up to this record, most of them having nothing to do with a concept. The songs I chose to include on the record were the ones that spoke the loudest to me and to one another. Then when I started to get an idea of which ones had a chance of being recorded, I worked more on those songs, building the ways they were related. The goal was not to tell a clear story, but to build an album-length dream essay on a few main themes that I’m obsessed with.” 

Not only were the songs effected by Furman’s own process but they were then subjected to the intense process of his band. 

“I am working with four musicians—the Visions—who are at a very high level creatively and musically right now. Each member of this band contributed seismically, transformatively, to the music on this record. We all wanted to transcend our first instincts and make the most compelling choice possible on each moment of the record. That took months of hard, exciting work, dismantling and rebuilding every song so that every track is powerful and not particularly predictable. And, in contrast to previous records of ours, we used every tool at our disposal: we did not try to avoid the impression that the music has been edited with computer software. So in that way it’s much more 21st-century-sounding music. I’m excited that we’ve more entered the conversation of contemporary music, with all its thrilling new sonic developments."

The result of this process has been a new sound for Furman.  The complexity of the songs mirrors the complexity of the issues addressed.  One of the things I love about Furman’s message is the absolute belief that inclusion and acceptance are the natural positions humans occupy and that we must be led away from those qualities. 

“I am mystified by it. That you could become an adult and still feel disgusted or threatened by a kind of beauty you haven’t seen before is bizarre to me. What people who are anti-LGBTQ probably don’t understand is that their views threaten people’s lives. The more those views proliferate, the more queer people get murdered or commit suicide. And the more we elect politicians who are anti-LGBT, the more suffering queer people go through. It’s a direct correlation. That is why I end up writing an album like this. The feeling that huge powerful portions of the world wish me and my friends harm.” 


Furman’s excellent new record Transangelic Exodus is out now.  Make sure to catch the show Tuesday night at Jacks.


Shopping at Gasa Gasa

The outstanding UK based post-punks Shopping will be at Gasa Gasa on Saturday night.  If BUKU isn’t your speed this is a great alternative.  I love the sound of this group.  They have a great groove that is reminiscent of Talking Heads and The B-52s at their best. 


To Do This Week

Tonight Willie Nelson is at the House of Blues and Perpetual Groove rolls into the Howlin’ Wolf.  Friday and Saturday are BUKU.  In addition you can catch Jamison Ross on Saturday at Snug Harbor or Shopping at Gasa.  Sunday Acid Dad is at Gasa.  Monday the Fleet Foxes are at the Orpheum (wow).  Tuesday Ezra Furman is at One Eyed Jacks.  Wednesday the Frigs are at Gasa.  This is an amazing week for music.


To Listen This Week