I’m going to go a little more in-depth with my reviews this festival season. The idea is to provide readers with a real sense of what they can expect from the festival and to provide the promoters with a roadmap of how they can to improve their festival.
Name: Buku Music And Art Project
Location: New Orleans, LA
Dates: March 21st-22nd
Size: 12,000 (estimate)
Security: The security at Buku festival was intense, to put it lightlightly. Along with patting you down and checking your bags, they made you go through a metal detector. Normally I would consider this to be too extreme, but I’m not sure what is normal for New Orleans festivals; therefore, I’ll just say it was a really bizarre way to start out a festival.
Food: Buku went with local food vendors and they did a really great job. The options all had the authentic New Orleans vibe to it. My favorite was the alligator tacos.
Crowd: The crowd was a mashup of festival veterans and virgins. The veterans did a great job of dressing up and dancing. The virgins showed up in collared shirts and took some time to adjust to the festival environment. The virgins eventually caught on and everyone had a great time.
Sponsors: The sponsors had a big, but not annoying presence in the festival. There was an e-cigarette company and Monster Energy, and probablypossibly a few others. (I didn’t think to review Sponsors until after the event. I’ll do it going forward from here)
Power Plant Stage: This large stage featured incredible stage design that changed with every artist. The sound was perfect for the area. I loved watching music at this stage.
Float Den: This was the second largest stage and featured it’s LED screens on the pillars going back into the crowd and also featured great sound. This was another great stage to watch music on.
Ballroom: The Ballroom stage was in a warehouse as well, and had it’s own unique look and feel. The vibe combined with great sound really made this a great place to watch an awesome band.
Back Alley Stage: This stage was really solid as Buku’s smaller stage. Next year they need to make the stage higher as the DJs had to deal with people being right on top of them, as they performed. This stage still did a great job with the lights/sound.
VIP S.S. Blu Ku: This had the typical VIP problem; only a select number of people can go in so the shows that are in the VIP shows so they never get filled up, and it kind of leaves the artist hanging. I went back for the Holy Ghost! DJ set and there were literally 8 of us in there, which was a total waste for the artists. Buku should reconsider their approach for VIP shows next year.
Handicap accessibility: I asked this awesome guy and his lady how hard it was to attend the festival in a chair. He said he didn’t have a single problem.
Organization: Buku was really well done. The shows were mostly on time, with a couple reschedules. The crowd size was right for the venue. There were enough bathrooms that you festivalgoers didn’t have to wait in line longer than two minutes. The program had a couple unnecessary pages, but it did the job. Overall, it was a very well-run festival.
Greening: Buku did have recycle and trash bins for people to help keep the place clean. They also had a steady flow of volunteers constantly cleaning the place so the venue stayed very clean. Next year Buku should go the extra mile and launch a program that rewards festivalgoers for picking up as well. Programs that offer a free t-shirt in exchange for a bag of trash or recycling really work.
Art: When I go to a festival with the word “art” in the name I expect to be surrounded with art. Buku did have a big wall with 18 or so artists spray painting their art, and I also caught a couple live artists in the crowd during the festival which was cool. What was lacking was projects that the crowd works together to create.
VIP: VIP gave you access to the boat, from which you got free drinks and could view the Power Plant Stage. You also got access to the raised platforms at the Float Den and Ballroom. VIP was an additional $230 over the general admission price. If you think you spend $230 on drinks over the weekend then you should absolutely upgrade. Just make sure all of your friends do too so everyone can hang out with each other.
Value: The standard general admission price was $169, which is right where it needs to be for a really great two day festival. If you do it right and arrive early you will have the ability to watch 24 hours of music over the two days which means you’re only paying $7 an hour for world class music. That’s a great deal.
What needs to be improved: Buku was a great festival but it was not perfect. There weren’t enough places to sit down, so festivalgoers all had to sit on the concrete when they wanted to rest for a while. I think the Power Plant stage could benefit from bleachers being put in to the right of the stage. The Float Den could easily have chairs at the very back of the crowd; gym mats would work as well. They also need to improve the decoration of the venue. It just didn’t have the music festival wonderland feel to it.
Overall: I am going to give Buku Music And Arts festival a healthy 4 out of 5 stars. It was an absolute blast to attend. To get five stars, they simply needs to give us places to sit, add more art installations (interactive art would be best), create a program to reward the crowd for cleaning up, and go the extra mile in decoration. I also encourage them to go for a full three day festival, because two days was just not enough.