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BUKU Music+Art Project Recap

12 Mar 2013

written by Croma

Buku crowd

Borland on

BUKU Music + Art Project


Buku Music+Art project attempts to merge street art, underground music, and unique stage environments into a cohesive festival experience. While still a young festival, the event has enormous potential to become a favorite among fans.

Buku Project Entrance

The festival offers both indoor and outdoor stages, as well as VIP only sets on the S. S. Buku, a giant paddle wheel boat docked in the harbor adjacent to the main stage. In addition to complimentary refreshments and swag offered inside, the boat deck also serves to offer guests a prime view of the main stage events.

S. S. Buku

As concert attendees pass through the entrance they are instantly greeted by a visual assault of colorful artwork. Commissioned by the festival are a mixture of graffiti, installations, and Mardi Gras floats decorate the open spaces. The graffiti work is auctioned off during the festival to support local artists.

“A lot of people don’t understand graffiti, so we try to put in something they recognize,” says graffiti artist Evak about the pop culture references to the cartoon Ren and Stimpy in his artwork.

Evak at work

The main stage is placed directly in front of the two looming smoke stacks of an old abandoned power plant. Friday night this particular stage was dominated by the likes of headliners Primus and Kid Cudi.

Abandoned Power Plant

Primus raised the bar with their new 3D stage show, which requires fans to where free 3D glasses that are passed out prior to the performance. The alternative metal pioneers played cuts that run deep into their back catalog, each with extended improvised instrumental jams.

Power Plant Stage

If Kid Cudi had any concerns about following Primus, it did not show during his energetic performance. The hip-hop phenom worked his way through many of his popular melodic rap songs such as “Mr. Rager,” “King Wizard,” and the set closer “Pursuit of Happiness.” By the time Kid Cudi left the stage the audience was jumping up and down with excitement.

Buku Crowd

Inbetween sets at the power plant stage, a smaller DJ stand provided music to entertain the crowd as they wait for the next big act to arrive. This nice touch ensured that there was never a lull in-between sets.

Set break DJ

Late night featured music from electro house producer Zedd in the float den, a warehouse normally used to construct Mardi Gras floats. The audience area was surrounded by lighting rigs attached to ceiling, effectively extending the stage light show all the way to the back of the crowd.

Mardi Gras floats on display

Zedd mixed a variety of electronic genres into his set including dubstep, progressive house, and complextro. The artist also mixed in a sample of “Aerodynamic” by Daft Punk, paying tribute to the legendary French DJs.

Float Den Stage

Saturday featured even more great music, with the most recognizable daytime set from hardcore rap revolutionaries Public Enemy. In an unusual turn for a rap group, the musicians appeared onstage with a full band including drums, bass, and electric guitar. This may not be as surprising when one considers that Public Enemy has been announced as an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year.

Chuck D of Public Enemy throwing his mic in the air

“I would like to thank all our fans for their support over the last 25 years. The only reason we are here is because of you,” said the group’s hype man and tv personality Flava Flav.

Flava Flav of Public Enemy

The ballroom stage hosted acts StarFucker, Major Lazer, and Dragonette. This fully enclosed and air conditioned room proves to be one of the most comfortable of the event, but as such there is also no smoking inside.

Ballroom audience

Dragonette cycled through many of their hit electropop songs including the million-selling single “Hello.” The band surprised the audience with a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time.” This cover is not surprising because lead singer Martina Sorbara wrote and produced the song “Grab A Hold” with Lauper for the latter’s 2008 album Bring Ya To The Brink.


“It was so amazing. It was daunting. I was so scared, because she’s such a hero, I didn’t want anything to go wrong,” says Sorbara of the experience working with her mentor.

Martina Sorbara and Joel Stouffer of Dragonette

The night belonged to STS9 in the float den. The band played two sets each over an hour long with the band Daedalus performing during the set break. Continuing a trend of Daft Punk tributes, the band did a remixed version of Daft Punk’s “Robot Rock” that left the audience screaming for more. The band also performed the track “Scheme” from their newest EP release When the Dust Settles as well as fan favorites “Be Nice,” “Rent,” and “EHM.”


“Thank you so much I really appreciate all the support,” said STS9 bassist David Murphy in response to a fan who was eagerly anticipating that night’s  set.

David Murphy of STS9

Buku 2013 was an assault on all senses that left many fans hungry for more. The next event may bring new developments like an additional day of concerts. This event is definitely one to watch in the coming year as Buku comes into its own.

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