Let's get the good out of the way. Truly the float den was the place to be bringing in a total intensity the crowd dug ten times over. STS9, Nero, Flying Lotus, Zedd, R3hab, Sander Van Doorn and Big Giantic all killed the Den mashing up incredible all night ragers. Headliners over at the power plant like Flux Pavilion, Lettuce, Public Enemy, Passion Pit and Primus 3D stood out as well with tight crowd pleasing performances. Big Fredda overcame sound issues to bring that great bounce energy and all those gorious bottoms into view.
If you were just looking for a really long concert Buku did a great job but when I think festival other things come to mind and this is where Buku let me down. The trash situation was out of hand with not enough receptilcles leaving cups, water bottles and cans underfoot everywhere. No one seemed to be in charge of cleaning these up between sets.
The float den could have been the most epic venue ever instead while the lighting was sweet the few props left out did little to really make the space feel special and having portopotties inside is always an iffy choice. Maybe I'm spoiled since most of my normal haunts really play up the festy vibe but I expected more from the mardi gras experience. This could have been something as simple as more live painters or a larger dance troupe presence. While the food was much better than normal carny fair it was presented in the plainest tents with no seating.
VIP was definitely worth the extra cash getting those lucky bastards access to both a huge hammock, the river boat and special VIP sections at every stage. If you didn't spring for upgrade your only seat was concrete and folks didn't look comfortable. In the end that's what struck me, for all the great things folks were saying about the music they weren't smiling. Admittedly most of what makes a festival for me is the crowd, seeing everyone digging life and raging. Instead there were a lot of underage kids trashed beyond reason, people rushing from stage to stage with faces you might expect to see in workers facing double shifts not party goers having the time of their lives. To be honest a couple hammocks and picnic tables would have gone a long way to improve the vibe.
So does this mean I don't recommend Buku? If you don't dig camping and want more of a big light rave style venue minus cuddle puddles and chill couch lounge rooms then this is definitely up your alley. Buku could do a ton to make this a much better experience in their third year by simple adding some seating, making it 18+ and checking IDs, getting the trash under control with some extra volunteers, doing more with the floats, bringing in a larger vender presence and hiring more performance artists to up the overall vibration. As it is Buku hit me more as a outstanding all night party concert with killer lights than the epic festival experience I was expecting. Maybe I was expecting to much but maybe this is what Buku can become, something more than just a great party. Remember this is New Orleans guess I was just expecting a little more of that outrageous over the top mardi gras style.