The 2014 Buku Music + Art Project uncorked its finest Monster energy drink and sprayed it in slow-motion across the Mardi Gras World riverfront for two days during its hypercolored dreamland of high-waisted booty shorts and turned up former boy scouts. My Saturday began in the ticket area, what looked like the badlands at the gates of a neon oasis. Here I walk you through my beautiful daymare.
Enter through several security checkpoints and bag checks before finding self at the foot of a Port-o-Let dungeon and giant-sized rope bed. Ahead of me, the S.S. Buku VIP boat docked against the river, and a hulking Monster energy drink adult playground to my right.
Generationals' bouncy power-pop fills the sun-light-filled ballroom, followed by Dan Deacon's Romper Room dance party and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart cramming its earnest, ear-splitting twee-pop into a tidy 25-minute set. A dough-faced college student in a "America Runs on Molly" T-shirt grabs his friend for Griz.
Dan Deacon stands with his iPod deck and switchboards among the crowd and commands them to (1) compete in a dance competition, (2) create an ant death spiral but with giving out high-fives instead, (3) create a death metal "wall of death" but instead, again, with high-fives, (4) and an even bigger dance competition splitting the room in half, one led by breakdancers and the other led by neo-hippies. All of this, of course, soundtracked by his outsized frenetic electronic compositions.
Along the river, a thunder-rippling bass pulse bursts from a small tent, which hosts a dozen DJs and MCs, surrounded by guys in Native American inspired tank tops smoking e-cigs. Inside the Float Den, a rave. Everyone is dancing. Everyone is wearing sunglasses, also. I need to drink something. There is Monster. I drink a Diet Coke.
Sit on the grass by the White Guy Pad Thai and City Greens booths. Someone is hula hooping to a mashup DJ. A girl greets her friends in full bodypaint. She's a tiger. A couple dressed in acidic Aztecan costume poses for pictures.
A group of festipals leans against the barricade waiting for The Flaming Lips. "I love The Flaming Lips, but I love David Guetta," one says while wielding an Instagram-loaded iPhone. "I'm here for The mother freaking Glitch Mob," says another.
The sun disappears. The Flaming Lips take the outdoor Power Plant stage — which explodes in lightning flash strobes and rope lights sequenced to drums and other instruments. Behind the set dressing, psychedelic video projections fill the backstage. After he carries massive Mylar "FUCK YEAH BUKU" balloons onstage, frontman Wayne Coyne emerges as a peyote bird wearing a silver tinsel wing/cape and stands above an electric spaghetti nest — above him, a rain-like rig of sour gummy worm lights. Coyne also wore a silver Mylar blob suit and shot smoke from a cannon.
The band's delirious, slow-burn set is heavy, heady and down-tempo, including "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" and "Race for the Prize," nearly entirely stripped of its momentum.
Behind me, a girl says to her boyfriend, "I mean, I like it, but I'm getting pretty anxious," as I look at the ground to avoid going blind. The band also covers Devo's "Gates of Steel" and a mushroom nightmare version of The Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds."
"What is this?" she asks just before taking a picture of the band with her iPhone. Her boyfriend shouts "It's The Beatles" then scream-sings the chorus in perfect adolescent voice crack.
To my left, one group of young dudes, who spent a dear amount of time reassuring each other they were drunk, point across several dozen people: "Look, there he is. Andrew! Andrew! Andrew!" Andrew doesn't see them, of course. Where is Andrew? Is Andrew OK? I never find out. The Flaming Lips play "Do You Realize" and a drone is flying overhead for some reason. Dan Deacon is watching the band. Tyler the Creator doesn't play for another two hours.