Scaling down from a three day behemoth to a slightly more manageable two day celebration, All Things Go (aka D.C.’s favorite music blog) took over Union Market this past weekend for their annual music festival / teen wonderland. And, if you’ve read the news at all or know anything that’s going on in the world, it was kind of a weird one. The day before, almost 200 people were arrested after protesting Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination. On the first day of the festival (which was curated by and featured an all female lineup), he was confirmed. While the teens certainly weren’t going to let that ruin any of their fun (and god bless them for it, we all need to remember to take breaks and celebrate the things we love) shaking the anguish off felt almost impossible.
But that doesn’t mean ATG didn’t try. Between the killer line up and the blissed out atmosphere, there were moments where you could forget the senseless cruelty of the world. People giddily lined up for photo booths, ate what looked like giant tubs of ice cream and downed cans of wine like it was their last day on earth. The VIP section was a little sadder, with its camp of tired parents and people sullenly charging their cell phones, but the VIP section is never going to be as good as it sounds. The only reason you should ever pay for VIP is if it comes with free drinks (RIP Landmark, you were obviously always going to go out of business but damn you had the best VIP perks) or you care about the nicer bathrooms. Otherwise, you’re just falling into a scam.
Of course, sugar and booze comas can only take you so far, but Saturday’s lineup didn’t let the energy drop for a second. Billie Eilish even turned switched up her brand of mumble mouth singing with a intensity that was far more engaging and actually tricked me into liking Eilish for the duration of her set. While it was clear from the neon colored band merch heavily sprinkled throughout the crowd that most of the audience teens in attendance were clearly there to get down to Eilish’s goth-lite sound (including a very tired mom so desperate for adult conversation she bought me a $9 beer), Jessie Reyez was the standout of the evening.
Even if you weren’t into her cotton candy laced with curse words style (at one point she got everyone to cheer for the concept of cursing and it was peek “I am 16 and you can’t tell me what to do”), damn it was fun to watch her perform. When she wasn’t bouncing around the stage or telling the stories behind her songs, she was running the audience ragged getting them to yell and throw their middle fingers in the air, but she also brought a slice of gravity to her set by supporting the #MeToo movement, being candid about her experiences with depression and touching on immigration. She also did an incredibly fun mixtape-like cover of Chance the Rapper’s “Cocoa Butter Kisses,” ScHoolboy Q’s “THat Part” and Drake’s “Headlines.” It was the best of all worlds.
Closing out Saturday was Maryland’s very own Maggie Rogers, whose music is the sonic equivalent of drinking a chilled glass of water after waking up with a hangover. While much of Saturday’s lineup seemed to thrive on pushing you to the edge, Rogers was confident enough to slow you down a little bit, have you take a deep breath and then get you moving again. The crowd quickly transitioned from the full on frantic party energy of Eilish’s set, to something a little funkier. At the very least, the parents seemed more into it.
There’s a lot to say about Sunday’s lineup. From FootsxColes to Cautious Clay to Betty Who, you were in for a treat whether you showed up as soon as gates opened or rolled in at the last second, but I only had eyes for Carly Rae Jepsen. The current queen of pop (don’t fight me on this one, I won’t fight fair), Jepsen didn’t waste a second of her set. It was a WD-40’d, finely tuned dance party machine, blending hits from 2012’s Kiss (including the infamous “Call Me Maybe”) and 2015’s Emotion like a spiked slushie. Besides a few clever quips between songs, Jepsen didn’t get overly personal, but nobody seemed to mind. From the opening bars of “Run Away with Me” to the last notes of “Cut to the Feeling” the crowd jumped and screamed along to every word like it was their job. It was the best damn dance party I had been to in a long time, even if euphoria only lasted until I was checking Twitter on the way out of the gates.
Photos by Andie Capace