The final day of Buku 2015 happened to coincide with the many St Patrick’s Day festivities in the city, which meant traffic was all the more festive as revelers and floats lined Convention Center Blvd for the Italian-American Parade winding through Downtown. Once inside the festival grounds, TV on the Radio were channeling their gratitude for the city into a solid gold performance. Opener “Young Liars” played like the type of showstopper you’d expect from an end of set number rather than a warm up. Frontman Tunde Adebimpe simply couldn’t contain his excitement, a much needed jolt of positivity to a crowd that had most likely never stopped rolling from the night before.
If Friday was the day of new hit-makers then Saturday was those same precocious stars paying their dues. TV on the Radio is a career band and the next artist to take the Ballroom just happened to be a career rapper with a backing band. Young punks BADBADNOTGOOD brought an immediacy to Ghostface Killah’s set unlike any other. DJs can only hype an artist so much but there truly is something to be said for the analog movements and improvisation of guitars, drums, and bass. Ghostface rolled through Wu-Tang hits, enlisting the help of a lucky fan to play the part of Method Man for “Protect Ya Neck,” a true treat and testament to Ghostface’s still rabid fan base.
Outside at the Power Plant stage, Passion Pit fans were reaching whole new heights in their fervor. Just before the band launched into their latest singalong-centric single “Lifted Up (1985),” a medical emergency forced a fan out through the photo pit and another festgoer forced herself over the barricade and into the pit just moments after. Despite a relatively light set, Passion Pit fans actually proved to be the most consistently rowdy.
Going back into the Ballroom for DJ Windows 98 only confirmed my suspicions that no one knew who the man behind the DJ name happened to be. A few years ago, DJ Windows 98 was playing shows all over Montreal and folks were none the wiser until he made his way down the East Coast, hitting up NYC and eventually coming to New Orleans, a city he’s mildly fallen in love with. The roadtripping DJ? Arcade Fire’s Win Butler, who also brought along wife and bandmate Regine Chassange as well as two other percussionists to accompany him as he spun an eclectic mix of world music meets hip-hop.
Lil B then took the stage and proceeded to make an entire love fest out of Buku, giving his shoutsout to everyone from Arcade Fire (of course) to the 9th ward and Lil Wayne. The Based God was followed around by a trusty camera man and flanked by a posse that repeatedly got kicked out of the photo pit and seemed to run rampant throughout the Ballroom’s packed crowd. Lil B’s positivity reached full force when he had the crowd chanting along to his shouts of “I’m happy to be alive” and “I love New Orleans.” His signature freestyles and melding of bounce and hyphy made for a great pairing of Bay Area meets Big Easy.
Perhaps the most under-rated artist to hit the Float Den at one of its latest slots was “Tuesday” rapper ILoveMakonnen. Give a listen to his Drink More Water mixtapes and you’d swear he’d swapped the H2O with hydrocodone his rhymes are so syrupy slow and lulling. It’s the biggest rap bait and switch going right now, because catching ILoveMakonnen live means pounding some Red Bull and upping the bpms tenfold.
His “Whip It” freestyle, already one of his most hyped tracks behind “Tuesday” stands as the central song still stuck in my head long after I’d left Mardi Gras world. Saving “Tuesday” as his penultimate track paid in droves and kept a rapid-fire set from grinding to a halt. Once again, Buku’s eye for talent had made for a weekend where there are no real headliners, just a consistently solid line-up from top to bottom.