All words: Hood Up, Marcus Dowling — All photos: Franz Mahr, Cesar Olivares, Priscilla Lima
noun- a quavering or vibratory sound, esp. a rapid alternation of sung or played notes.
Verb – produce a quavering or warbling
adjective- (of a device) having, or operating with aid of, many small components, esp. microchips and transistors, that control and direct an…”an electronic calculator.
(of music)produced by electronic instruments.
At a point where music genres are blending, bending, and banging, it’s events like Trillectro that beat me up and shake me down for my lunch money. Gathering Hip Hop & Electronic Music acts for the first festival of it’s kind in the DC Metropolitan area, DC to BC along with some other partners pulled together acts ranging from Flatbush Zombies, Rex Riot, Schoolboy Q, Tittsworth, Tabi Bonney, Body Language, and Flosstradamus.
With two stages set on opposite ends of the Half Street Fairgrounds, it offered a quick easy way to get from one set to the next in a day that was jammed packed with artists. With staggered set times to avoid volume levels fighting each other. Between the Redbull stage and Trillectro mainstage are a few food trucks, bar areas, and some clothing brands. Trillectro has caught the attention of a lot of heads with its first serving, and I’ve come prepared for a buffet. I hope you didn’t miss out on this trill event, and are only reliving the event through these words.
11:00 am- It’s HOT…. things are just getting started as I walk the grounds trying to familiarize myself with what’s where before the fairgrounds become packed with bodies from one end to the other. Even though at the current time most of the bodies that take up place are press members, there’s still a buzz floating around. You can see it in people’s eyes and body language; we’re all ready for the party to start.
Noon- There’s been a few DJ’s that have taken to the stages, but as I’m making my way over to the main stage I hear Philly native Grand Marshall spitting his first verse, no music accompanying him. Apparently there’s been some sort of technical issue, but Grand Marshall still has the voices of the crowd matching words with him. As the last words drift off the, first beats kick in, and Grand Marshall takes control of the crowd for the next thirty minutes. Before there’s a chance to break, Grand Marshall tags in ASAAD (another Philly native) who comes out moving across the stage to his bass heavy beats, seasoned with clever word play. ASAAD is fired up with every song upping the ante, a story that would follow throughout the whole day.
I got to catch up with ASAAD after his set, asking him about being apart of Trillectro and what his music was about. Rocking a white T with the words “young god” down the center one might think that ASAAD might have a complex or ego, but as I begin to chat with him it’s clear that this is not the situation at all. Instead is a voice that it’s very humbled, thankful, and excited to be apart of a first time event like this in the area. ASAAD makes it clear that he enjoys doing what he does for the fact that he can share his experiences and words with the youth. Showing that there is more than one dimension to hip-hop, and the community that surrounds it. I don’t know if it was something that Trillectro made a point of doing, but every artist I talked to pointed out how they were so excited to have the chance to play on a line up that had so many different sounds yet melded so well together.
For me personally, this is what set Trillectro apart from many other festivals that I’ve been to over the years. A lot of festivals/events this size normally seems to get swallowed up on its self. The atmosphere that was created here was less like a festival and felt more like a family reunion. At first I thought maybe it was just me, but as I continued through the day I began to meet new family members, realizing that these sentiments were being felt by many others. There weren’t boundaries between artist and attendants; they shared the same areas. Walking around the fairgrounds freely talking, taking pictures, and laughing. Just catching up since the last time that they had seen each other, even if it was the first time they had met. Neither hip-hop nor electronic music is one dimensional, and the case is the same for Trillectro. If you cut the sound out and only observed with your eyes, one might think they were at a punk show; blink, now you’re at a rave; blink, nope this is a fashion show; blink, actually this home. This is DC, creating a jambalaya of culture within one event. The only other place you see such a blend of all these things is walking down the street, but then you don’t normally see all the smiles, dancing, and peace that has been created by Trillectro. Something that I hope was seen through all the flashing lights and great artist that helped make a day like this possible.
2:00pm- With these next words I hope to not take anything away from any other artist that played before this time, but this was a turning point for Trillectro, when Flatbush Zombies took the stage it was made very clear that they weren’t coming to party but had brought their party from NYC down with them to DC. The stage was covered in tie-dyed shirts simply reading “ZOMBIES” across the front of them. A mix of Flatbush’s custom smoke, and fog smoke filled the stage as the crowd chanted the words, “blah blah f**cked up!” Even with mic issues the Zombies passed the verses around with ease, electrifying the crowd into movement, bring a new energy to the fairgrounds.
Who came to party? Flatbush came to party! So rock your body, la de da de da de! Shake!
Even ASAP Ant showed some love; not on the list of artist to play for the day but joining Flatbush on the stage for a few songs during their set.
Pumped up and ready to go I headed back over to the Redbull stage to catch Rex Riot + Basscamp who I’d been hearing buzz about all morning.
“Hello Rex, Hello Basscamp, I’m very glad to meet you.”
When I said the party started with Flatbush I meant it, and it only built from that moment on. Rex and Basscamp created a sound like a greeting card from another planet. There’s no need for a spaceship, just listen to the sounds as you move on the dance floor. This is where your space journey takes off, seamless transections, build-ups, and breakdowns are all apart of the sound trip. Move your feet to the beat, as co-captains Rex Riot and Basscamp guide you along. The only thing that I can think keeping these guys from being on the main stage is the simple fact that with so many talented acts there’s just not enough time to fit them all on one stage. Even though they were up in the Redbull truck, as I watched the pair it seems more like they were sharing the dance floor with everyone; hands up with sweat rolling down their foreheads the co-captains flight plans are to make you move. We would reach our destination, and if would be a beautiful ride all the way there.
To talk about Trillectro and only speak of the acts that took the stage would be a major injustice. There was much more going on within then fairgrounds. I talked myself out of putting a lot of effort into my outfit and went with simple/comfort. I was preparing for along hot day in the sun that could possibly also be peppered with rain showers here and there. I would soon find that my love for fashion might be a lie as others came looking to show off their style even if it meant a little more sweat would be involved. Trillectro was not just littered with great music, but attendants were spotlights in their own rights. Showing off their forward thinking styles. From board shorts to high heels, I was turning my head all day, glances of stormtrooper b-boys, Deathwish Supra’s, OBEY, Mishka, Lazy panda, and a list that could go on. Running into people that I’ve seen working at my 9 to 5 job, makes it once again clear that this is a melting pot; people are coming through from many different areas.
4:00pm- Tabi Bonney took hold of the main stage as if he was working with Doc Brown and began to pump futuristics hip-hop beats through the speakers. It only seemed fitting having recently dropped his new EP “Love Joy Park” that Tabi invited some ladies to share the stage with him, proving once again that Trillectro is about everyone coming together and having a good time.
Even though the heat was bearing down, and there were slight showers of rain here and there throughout the day the festival pushed on. People would not be lost to these small hiccups and such. Not with the likes of David Heartbreak, Brenmar, DJ Wonder, and others still to come as the day pushed forward.
Oddisee, Body Language, and Casey Veggie all had their time on the main stage, working the crowd, causing individual bodies to come together moving as one to the sound that they have crafted.
6:15- There are some artist you hear about, but the full scope of what they do can not truly be understood until you yourself experience it first hand. The name Tittsworth should not be new to anyone that likes to move, enjoys the event of partying, or the simple act of cutting loose. These are my words, this is my opinion, Tittsworth deserves to be known as one of the Kings of The Party.
Hype and exposure only take a person so far. Usain Bolt is the fastest man on the world not because of people talking about it, but because he proves it on the track when he moves. I don’t call Tittsworth a King of the Party because of what others say about him but for the simple fact that when his set starts people hear the song first building and there’s a tension that forms.
Everyone is waiting…..if you’re there, you’re waiting.
We’re all waiting for it.
Then it happens, the sound explodes and people irrupt into movement. Tittsworth puts a sound together like he’s inside your head. He knows when to go heavy and fast, when to bring it down for you, and if you seem that there’s a chance you might be lost he reminds you that we are all in this together.
The Redbull stage’s crowd has pushed far back and there is really no separation between it and the main stage now. The sound from the Redbull stage speakers commands all to move no matter where they are on the fairgrounds.
Bounce, Bounce, Bounce!
There’s a mood flowing in the crowd, it’s electric, energy, it’s movement. A girl named Rachael describes Tittsworth’s set to me as follows “It’s energy, it’s energy!” as she dances with her friends next to me. And I decide to put my pen away and do the same for a while.
8:00- “Weed and Brews, Weed and Brews, Life for me is just Weed and Brews…” there are a certain set of words that should fall from your mouth, and as the rain began to fall, Schoolboy Q had the words falling from everyone’s lips. For this set the “Q” could symbolize a question, Did Schoolboy even need to spit a verse at all? The crowd was going lyric for lyric with the artist, every time he move the mic away, the crowd was there to pick up were he left off. Every song that dropped was greeted with a crowd of yelling fans singing along. Schoolboy even shared the mic and stage with fans letting some come up and help him with a song. This was HI-POWER in the flesh.
10:14- This is were holding my pen began to become harder, the night was building, we were getting deeper into the game. So I’m going to round it off with this.
Was Trillectro a success?
Did Dougie Fresh teach you how to dougie? Did Square Off take to the stage backed by the beat boxing of Dougie? In this moment, is there sweat running down all the attendants faces, have the ladies let their hair fall down, are people still moving to the sounds of Flosstradamus? In a day were speakers were transformed into dance floors, VIP only meant you got to wear a cool badge around your neck, and the idea of the artist being separate from the fan did not exist. Trillectro helped bridge the great divide between so many areas. So how do you measure success? I wouldn’t miss out on a second serving of Trillectro if I had the chance to put it on my plate again. For a first outing this event was bars above other festivals that I’ve been to.
And as people leave the fairgrounds, the front begins to flood with bodies hugging, kisses good-bye. There’s already buzzing of the events that have transpired throughout the day. I’m sure social media sites will be flooded with images and talk of Trillectro. I’m also sure that everyone is already looking forward to the next family reunion. It’s been good fam, it’s been really good. Thank you Trillectro.
Live.Love. Believe. Hood Up.
- Some thoughts from Marcus Dowling:
Just over three years ago, Will Eastman’s Bliss party’s “BLISSPOP” Summer extravaganza was headlined by Nadastrom and Tittsworth as a sold-out lower bowl of the 9:30 Club went all the way off. It was an explosion of neon and electro, and when Tittsworth kicked off his set by dropping Trey Songz, Drake and Lil Wayne’s hip-hop meets R & B heater of that moment “Successful,” it inspired the following opening paragraph in my Brightest Young Things review of the event:
The fact that Washington, DC now boasts a seven day a week underground party scene is fairly amazing, all things considered. For the numerous taunts and teases the city receives, from being a city of transient non-neighbors, to that of being so polarized along racial and socio-economic lines that unity of any sort, on much of anything is virtually impossible, DC’s ability to persevere, namely in the DIY dance and electronic music community is commendable. Friday’s Blisspop Summer Extravaganza event at 9:30 Club wasn’t even so much a celebration of the talents of the DJs, so much as it was a notification of acceptance of our city on a national and international landscape.
Three years later, Tittsworth, while stationed in a Red Bull soundstage-meets-armored truck, turned roughly 500 hip-hop and dance music fanatics into an undulating and unified mass at the DCtoBC organized Trillectro Hip-Hop and Electronic Music Festival at the Half-Street Fairgrounds. The paragraph I wrote three years ago is still true, just now on a much larger and frankly once unimaginable level. But what’s next?
Saturday wasn’t really historic. Festivals are the new black. The Mad Decent Block Party was once a cool little afternoon shindig where dirty hipsters drank PBRs on Philadelphia row house stoops while Diplo played club music in front of a mausoleum. Now, it’s a Puma-sponsored and national summer party brand. Furthermore, if you’re in a large American city, some form of Hard Holy Massive Daisy Zoo Festival Ship is coming your way, cooking your face and frying your body with bass, lasers, free vodka and energy drinks. And let’s not forget that in a few weeks, Jay-Z’s Made in America festival will take The Roots’ annual “picnic” to the next level, hitting Philly with 100 rappers and 100 DJs at the same damn time. What happened yesterday in DC? Small potatoes in the global scheme of things.
Or maybe not. Schoolboy Q is a big deal. He’s a pop rapper on the rise, his tales of “weed and brew” exactly the message that parents hate and that free radical teens and twenty-somethings want to hear. While headliners Flosstradamus were cut short by the city’s stringent zoning and noise regulations, they make trap music for martians slinging dope made of moon cheese while on Venus, sounds unique to our now fully digitized age of sonic expansion. These acts are the next decade’s superstars, and they were in our city in the summer that symbolizes the pinnacle of their rise. That’s big. If what I said three years ago is true, and by extension Trillectro truly represents the Nation’s Capital’s full acceptance as a center of emerging global culture, then what’s next is clear.
Do we want something historic? Does DC want to make a statement? Are we who and what we believe we are? Then let’s hope for an all-local Trillectro II.
We’re at a place as a city where in one year’s time, the independent and mainstream musical world will more than likely have incredible respect for talent with significant roots in Washington, DC. If we would have seen an all-local Trillectro on Saturday, it’s quite respectable to say that 1/3 of the roughly 3,000 attendees yesterday would have come. As a city, our population is largely transplanted. And, while Washingtonians both native and new are brilliant and inspiring in their aspiration, they’re still acclimating to the notion that DC is more than just a part of their address. As well, regarding DC on a national and international music level, our level of respect is growing, but yet to peak.
In a year, with the proper cultivation of both the hip-hop and electronic scenes – both indie and mainstream – at a local, national and international depth and scope, an all-local Trillectro II is entirely possible. To think that hip-hop could be represented by the likes of Wale, Fat Trel, Shy Glizzy, Oddisee, Tabi Bonney and God’silla shouldn’t shock anyone. An electronic lineup of Alvin Risk, Volta Bureau, Nadastrom, Tittsworth, and the Rock Creek Social Club, Nouveau Riche and Tropixxx parties is a titanic lineup that could sell out a festival on the Spanish isle of Ibiza, making a capacity crowd at a mixed-use industrial park in Southeast DC more than possible.
Trillectro was amazing. DC’s future is incredible. Let’s hope the two can collide.
- Shots by Cesar Olivares
- Shots by Priscilla Lima