There was something surreal about Saturday's Trillectro Music Festival. Maybe it was all of the booming bass and bright lights illuminating the otherwise sterile office buildings that surround the Half Street Fairgrounds. Maybe it was the overuse of terms like, "turn up," "twerk," and "ratchet," in a space usually reserved for pre-gaming when the Nationals are playing at home.
Either way, Saturday was a mark of progress in Washington, D.C. Long considered a federal wasteland devoid of culture, the nation's capital has developed a respectable local music scene. Trillectro did a great job highlighting those local acts alongside emerging national artists.
Early in the day, local band Misun took the stage and turned in a stand-out performance. Anchored by Misun Wojcik's peerless vocals and Nacey's electro-pop production, the band's initially sparse crowd seemed to multiply as the set went on. This is an act to keep an eye on, and could very well be the next band to make it out of Washington, D.C.
Misun's set was followed by three consecutive local acts: RDGLDGRN, Shy Glizzy and Phil Ade. Though all three sets went over well, Phil Ade's set ranked among the festival's best performances.
Ade has been on the local hip-hop scene for a few years now, but the release of his mixtape, R.O.S.E., may be enough to catapult Ade onto the national scene. During his set at Trillectro, Ade--a Silver Spring native--had quite the entourage with him on stage. The highlight of Ade's performance came when Sean Chrystopher joined the local emcee for a raucous version of "The Vapours (Bet U Know Me)," which featured Ade rapping atop a set of speakers in front of the stage.
Towards the rear of the venue, a handful of trap and EDM DJs were spinning on the KarmaLoop stage. Despite being considerably smaller than the main stage, the KarmaLoop stage's crowd was significantly larger by the time Gents & Jawn and DJ Sliink took over the booth.
One major gripe with the DJ sets--as noted by the Washington Post--was the tiny song bank they chose to play from. Songs like "Quintana" by Travi$ Scott and A$AP Ferg's "Shabba" and "Work" were already played out by the time those artists even took the stage.
Eventually, the trap music gave way to Moombahton, as local acts Nadastrom and Tittsworth held down the main and KarmaLoop stages respectively. Nadastrom's set brought some much needed energy back to the main stage after most of the crowd vacated during Ghost Beach and Goldrooms' sets--not bad sets, just a little out of place.
The homestretch of the lineup featured heavy-hitting hip-hop: King Chip, Travi$ Scott. Casey Veggies, A$AP Ferg and "special guest" Wale.
Where King Chip provided a somewhat smoked-out relaxed vibe, Travi$ Scott took the stage and proved why he and Kanye West get along so well. Scott's on-stage banter was among the most juvenile, petulant behavior seen at the festival, and he seemed determined to start a fight with the event's security staff. Kind of a buzz-kill.
The pinnacle of Trillectro came during A$AP Ferg's set. As the DJ started to play his single, "Work," A$AP Ferg announced that he brought a friend along. A$AP Rocky emerged alongside Ferg and the crowd hit fever pitch. The stage was so crowded with other artists, entourage members and hangers-on that it was nearly impossible to make out who was performing and who was just hanging out. The set ended with the two A$APs performing Ferg's latest single, "Shabba."
With the crowd riding high, inexperience and misleading advertisement caused the night to come to a crashing halt. Local superstar Wale had been advertised as the "special guest" along with "trill surprises." Unfortunately, the surprise was not trill at all.
After playing 30-second clips of his more popular tracks, Wale emerged on stage to inform everyone he could not perform due to contractual obligations (He is currently touring with J. Cole). The rapper remained on stage for a few more minutes while the DJ continued to play his songs. Then he was gone. The only highlight was Fat Trel performing his track, "Respect With the Tech."
Believe it or not, booking a headliner who is unavailable to perform is not a good look for a young festival. This was one of the few growing pains that became painfully obvious as the day wore on.
From an organizational standpoint, the festival's crowd control was just short of horrendous. By 6:30 p.m., dozens of ticket-holders were told to wait in line outside the venue because the event was at capacity. That is a major blunder for a young festival charging $50 per ticket.
Despite a few stumbles, Trillectro was a successful event and it really captured the dynamic of Washington, D.C.'s music scene. This event has the potential to be enormous, the promoters just need to be patient and gain a little more experience.
In its infancy, Trillectro already has a real sense of community and a unique identity. Those are two major qualities of a successful music festival. The festival's weaknesses are easily correctable, and should only make for a better event next year. It is nice to finally have a culturally relevant festival in Washington, D.C.