BUKU Music + Art Project’s first night welcomed back New Orleans spring festivals with Tame Impala, EDM and drag wrestling | Music | Gambit Weekly

Harmony Cardenas

The BUKU Music + Art Project probably couldn’t have asked for better weather when gates opened Friday afternoon. With blue skies and good vibes all around, BUKU returned to the grounds between Mardi Gras World and the Market Street Power Plant for the first night of its 10th edition, kickstarting a busy spring festival season in New Orleans after a rough two years of cancellations.

Psychedelic rock band Tame Impala headlined Friday on the main stage with a set highlighting their latest album “The Slow Rush” — released in 2020 just before the pandemic pulled the plug on bands touring — and bringing out favorites from 2015’s “Currents” and the 2012 album “Lonerism.” Friday also featured hip-hop duo $uicideboy$ playing a hometown show, producer-songwriter Porter Robinson, rapper Trippie Redd, rock band Taking Back Sunday and hyperpop act 100 Gecs. Other performers on Friday included electronic dance music producers Liquid Stranger, Dom Dolla, John Summit, CloZee and more — and putting a range of electronica styles on display, from house to dubstep and drum and bass.

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Tame Impala performs during the first day of the 2022 BUKU Music + Art Project in New Orleans, Friday, March 25, 2022. BUKU is the first major festival in New Orleans since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

A number of New Orleanians performed on Friday, including a special round by Choke Hole, New Orleans’ DIY queer, drag wrestling outfit. They’ll be back at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Riverside tent.

The day featured hip-hop artists Rob49, Tatyanna XL and 504IcyGrl — who was joined onstage by DJ Kelly Green to perform tracks from her new EP, “Princess Diaries — and producers Ziggmonster and BluShakurX. Both Ziggmonser and BluShakurX are alumni of Upbeat Academy and were independently booked this year.

BUKU will kick the spring music festival season in New Orleans into high gear when it returns this weekend after a long, quiet two years.

A music education program focusing on the techniques and tools used in hip-hop, R&B and electronic dance music, Upbeat was co-founded by Reeves Price and Dante DiPasquale, the guys behind BUKU. A portion of proceeds from the festival has always gone to support Upbeat, and this year a live art auction is underway to benefit the program. You can learn more about Upbeat in the BUKU Bazaar area.

BUKU reopens for day two at 1 p.m. Saturday. Rapper Tyler, the Creator headlines at 9:45 p.m., and the day features indie rock band Glass Animals, electronic dance producer Alison Wonderland, rappers Flo Milli, Vince Staples, Baby Keem and Maxo Kream and pop singer-songwriter Kali Uchis.

Go early to catch New Orleans hip-hop collective glbl wrmng — which features Pell, Kr3wcial, $leazy EZ, Alfred Banks and more — performing at 2:15 p.m. on the main stage. Other New Orleans musicians performing Saturday include sfam, Odd The Artist, Legatron Prime, Antwigadee! and Stone Cold Jzzle.

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Choke Hole drag wrestling takes place in the Riverside tent during the first day of the 2022 BUKU Music + Art Project in New Orleans, Friday, March 25, 2022. BUKU is the first major festival in New Orleans since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Also keep an eye out for sculptures and art installations scattered around the festival grounds and for Carnival dance troupes parading through.

Take a look below for a photo gallery from day one of BUKU 2022. For more information on the festival, go to thebukuproject.com.

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