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From the Bottom of Our Hearts, Merci BUKU

You know that emoji with three hearts floating around its head? Yeah, that’s been me ever since BUKU.

My expectations had been through the roof for the city and the event (after all, BUKU had to beat my experience last year when I turned 20 riding the rails for Bassnectar), but last weekend surpassed anything and everything I could have hoped for. Not only did all the performances take my breath away, but the venue was decked out in insane art, festival-goers were dancing their hearts out, and the atmosphere was abuzz with love and excitement.

Nothing can truly compare to the feeling of hearing the pounding bass as you enter Mardi Gras World and seeing colorful outfits sparkle in the sunlight. My eyes were instantly drawn to the Power Plant, the main stage soon to be blessed with the presences of Lana Del Rey and Dog Blood.

Photo by Max Rykov

One of my first sets at the Power Plant was Excision, and this man threw down. Not a single body was still – as he ripped our souls out and replaced the empty space with his beats, we all shared the same disgusted bass face, basking in each wonderfully filthy drop. After his set, the aura changed and I saw BUKU through a new lens. As the sun set, I trekked past the railroad tracks to The Wharf, a guaranteed good time with the likes of Ekali, NGHTMRE, and Slander. The Wharf was in a constant party mode, surrounded by shipping containers that brave souls danced upon before getting kicked off by security.

The night was just getting started, so I decided to adventure around and see what other surprises BUKU had in store. The Float Den was a magical teleportation into an underground warehouse dance party. It hosted one of the most visually appealing and breathtaking sets of the festival – G Jones himself. His classic black and white aesthetic filled everyone’s life with color as he put on an incredible production. TOKiMONSTA and Yaeji also performed in the Float Den, and it made me ecstatic to see my fellow Korean ladies thriving. They confidently projected their passion and talent, holding their audiences captive under their spell.

Photo by Max Rykov

Hungry from all the headbanging, I had to take a mandatory food break to go back for the wonton tacos I’ve been thinking about since last year. A quick detour then led me to Ella Mai in the Ballroom on the second day. Her soulful voice washed over me, tugging at my heartstrings as she sang “Trip” and “Boo’d Up”. At the Switchyard, Mersiv and Kasbo went as hard as the rest of us while surrounded by the jaw dropping Live Gallery and graffiti pieces. Despite planning a schedule to hit all the sets I wanted to see, I got caught up in the beauty of it all, instead going where the music took me.

Photo by Max Rykov

Still, there were some sets I knew I couldn’t miss. Lana Del Rey blew us away with her performance – I stood there and swayed like a flower in the wind, so mesmerized by her sound. One of my favorites from the weekend was A$AP Rocky – from his mixing to flying bras to his undeniable charisma, I still get goosebumps thinking about “L$D”.

Photo by Max Rykov

Of course, I had to end both nights at The Wharf with RL Grime and Louis the Child. There’s just something about RL Grime that makes my soul happy. His visuals were awe-inspiring, and playing all of the crowd favorites as well as his classics. I remember thinking before his set that I wanted videos to look back on, but I was so fully immersed and alive in the moment that I didn’t give my phone a second thought. The final set of the weekend was Louis the Child, and they did not disappoint. They had me both dancing my heart out and swaying in my feels. The happy upbeat of “Better Not” was the perfect way to wrap up BUKU, despite my sadness about it being over.

I already miss watching the sun set over the BUKU sign, hazily melting into the music. From the bottom of my heart, merci BUKU! Thank you for another magical festival, and I can’t wait to do it all again next year.

Photo by Max Rykov

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