Reviews By Marcus Dowling and Alana Wise, Photos By Franz Mahr, Lauren Bulbin, Priscilla Ledesma
Because Trillectro is a day long festival featuring music we love and people we support, our coverage tends to go a little overboard. Last year we sent multiple photographers and writers. We did the same this year. Let’s begin with Marcus Dowling’s review…
Maybe it was the presence of a (ever-so-slightly flooding) mid-afternoon rain that the Trillectro Festival (in its new spacious digs in the parking area behind RFK Stadium) was missing all along to literally synergize the energies of rap and EDM into the “Trillectro” portmanteau. Certainly, for ready-to-party revelers, there was enough water present during Saturday afternoon’s third annual summer festival for “trill” rap and EDM’s “ectro” to pair together in a Biblical sense and get on board a theoretical ship. Or maybe, in a less idyllic and grandiose sense it was the nature of the last twelve months of top-40 radio and popular culture at work that made everything that everyone played or perform feel oh so turnt up.
Yes, for as much as rap superstars like Big Sean and EDM kingpins like Baauer were present, #trillectro2014 was about creating iconic moment for rap (and dance)-as-pop’s stars on the rise. It’s taken the planning and promotions team behind the event three years to really zero in on who needs to be booked on the event when, where and why, but this year’s version of the now annual event felt far more in synergy with nailing exactly where the zeitgeist is headed next. In an era where music appears more worthless than ever before, it’s important that the value-added portion of the DC-born and growing in national indie-to-mainstream renown festival involve accurately identifying who the next sustainable superstars-to-watch in music actually are.
As day fully became night the spotlight shone brightest on Los Angeles-based emcee Travi$ Scott. While yes, you likely know him for his song “Upper Echelon,” work with A-Trak and Lex Luger’s “Low Pros” tandem, or for being signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music imprint, Scott out-distanced all of those previous affiliations with one brief and vitriolic stand-alone performance. Camera-people were referred to as “camera fucks,” and demanded to leave the photo pit so that “real Travis $cott fans” could jump a barricade, enter and get as rowdy as their hero did onstage. It was simply a star-making moment of the highest order.
Yes, Migos were there, too. No, they didn’t perform “Versace” or “Hannah Montana.” Of course, a fight almost broke out in the crowd during the Atlanta trap rappers’ performance, but when your songs allow a crowd to jump up and down and scream “Fight Night,” and refer to guns as “pocket rockets,” what else can anyone expect? Of course, there’s a knowing sense here that while the subject matter is volatile, the music is fun and pop-friendly, so any fights are easier to squash than likely at any other point in rap’s history with ratchet content.
Rae Sremmurd were there, the Mississippi rap duo whose “No Flex Zone” has dominated urban pop throughout the summer. Their set was a bit longer than likely needed given that they have only one single of note, but again the incessant beat of 808s and snare drums throughout the crowd caused a palpable feeling that no matter what the song, turning up was absolutely more than appropriate.
Speaking of established stars, there were two mentions of the unfortunate happenings in Ferguson, Missouri during the afternoon portion of the program from two DC-area stalwarts. Foremost, Fat Trel definitely told everyone to say “FUCK THE POLICE” during the now Maybach Music Group-signed emcee’s performance. Of course, by comparison, lame duck mayor of DC Vincent Gray including a harangue on the lack of significant African-American representation in Ferguson, while also discussing the new Chuck Brown Park space, and thoughts about the future of DC music was, well, less than popularly received by the damp thousands in attendance.
At a certain point of the afternoon, rising producers Lunice and Sango were vibing two separate crowds at two separate stages in two wildly different ways. Lunice (he of pairing with Hudson Mohawke as TNGHT and production credits with Kanye West fame) played a set that was filled with the lazer-addled trap-inspired production that has made him a favorite of progressive dance music connoisseurs worldwide. Similarly, Sango’s mix of soul. baile-funk and hip-hop swagger set the closest thing to a lo-fi EDM vibe for the afternoon, the Soulection crew beat-maker impressing many in attendance unaware of his unique take on production.
If a DC-music fanatic, the likes of “next-to-blow” sensation GoldLink, fellow rappers including Afrocentric intellectual Ras Nebyu and trap-friendly far Southeast native Lightshow and indie soul band Redline Graffiti were present. As well, possibly more of a surprise to many new-to-local music fanatics, the Diamond District of Oddisee, yU and XO impressed with the afternoon’s most hyper-lyrical showcase.
Overall, a point about those not mentioned makes a tremendous point about the day in full. When announced sets by the talented likes of DC’s The Beard and The Fro, NY’s The Jane Doze, and dance veterans Willy Joy, Dirty South Joe and TWRK feature EDM-friendly versions of songs that bear a striking resemblance to rap jams dropped by DC’s DJ Money, then Trillectro’s intended initial hope to bridge the gaps between “Trill” and “ectro” have been achieved. In deciding the future success of the festival, it’s what the stars birthed of said synergy can achieve moving forward (likely with Trillectro’s aid) that will determine just how successful DC’s annual summer “turn up” will truly become.
Let’s continue with some photos by Franz Mahr…
Onto Alana Wise’s review…
Saturday afternoon in the hilariously rainy space of RFK Memorial’s open-air stadium, Trillectro kicked off for its annual day-long festival experience. While the festival certainly left some things to be desired on some notes, you simply cannot fake the “trill,” as it were, and a decent experience was to be had by all who were drunk enough to enjoy it.
Because I’m not a noob, I arrived to the venue a few hours after it began, just in time to catch the worst of the rain and the best of the performances. The show was so sparsely packed at that point that it reminded me of my psychology professor’s sad scalp’s attempt at Rogaine. However, despite the terrible weather and worse turnout, the music was excellent. The smaller stage had acts on such as Atlanta’s ForteBowie (of Gucci Mane fame), Ras Nebyu and Sango. At the main stage before the “main” acts (for the sake of the article, let’s just say Rae Sremmurd, Migos, Baauer and Big Sean), SZA, Oddisee, and my personal favorite, TWRK held things down for the rain-or-shine crowd.
The ratio of trill to EMD was a bit off in favor of the trill, but everybody around seemed to truly be enjoying themselves. Because of the rain, there was an inordinate amount of people huddled under the unbelievable small space of the Reebok-sponsored tent, but even in the denseness, the crowd remained perfectly content with listening to music from the safe, albeit gross, totally wet and soggy-carpeted space of the tent.
In anticipation for the festival’s top billed acts– including local fave Fat Trel– the crowd grew significantly more tightly packed with every passing second.
The crowd, not only drunk with appreciation for the music, but literally drunk off their asses on regular old hooch (I know because at several points, the hosts asked), grew more and more receptive with each passing act. By the time Baauer’s 9:00 set time hit the crowd would scream at each change in chord waiting for the show’s main act, Big Sean, who decided not to show up until about an hour after his proposed set time, because, ya’know, famous people, <em>and</em> who put on a mediocre set, at best.
Aside from time lord divas and a few minor setbacks (here’s lookin’ at you, weather), the show was almost as trill as promised. There were several great performances spliced through the few not so good ones, and all-in-all, everybody seemed to have fun, which is the true meaning of Trillectro, isn’t it?
As always, keep it trill.
Here are some more photos by Lauren Bulbin and Priscilla Ledesma…