Trillectro still has growing pains, but it’s turning into a fine young festival

Trillectro is growing up. Growing up is hard. As Saturday’s festival at the Fairgrounds in Southeast Washington showed, there are a lot of mistakes and pains along the way, but it can be fun, too.

The name, Trillectro, is a mash-up of hip-hop slang and a type of dance music. It basically describes the aesthetic that the festival’s going for. As electronic dance music — or EDM — bleeds more and more into mainstream hip-hop, Trillectro is a festival booked to please fans of both. One stage featured rappers and live bands, another featured DJs playing trap-rave, which takes southern-fried hip-hop beats and doubles down on electronic sonics. It’s neon and syrup, swag and candy, with a young crowd that’s black, white and every shade in between.

“Turn up,” a phrase roughly meaning “get wild,” was repeated incessantly throughout the day, as hype men and women worked over DJ beats to get ravers moving. Early on, before the masses packed the space, DJs Spicoli and Alex Young played big-room bangers to a sparsely filled dance floor. (So much for warming up, or easing into a vibe.) One of the most pronounced growing pains Saturday had less to do with Trillectro’s development and more to do with trap-rave’s infancy: The song bank that DJs pulled from at this show was shockingly sparse. Over the course of the day, cuts from Kanye West, Chief Keef, Jay-Z and a couple of rave-trap all-stars were played ad nauseam. The crowd responded most enthusiastically to tracks they recognized, even if it was the third time it played that hour.

The redundancy of the music in some ways separated the boys from the men (and the lineup was almost exclusively boys and men, save singer Misun Wojcik, the standout frontwoman for her namesake band, Misun). The party really turned up when New Jersey-based DJ Sliink took over the decks. Though he played a lot of familiar cuts, he mixed and paced them with an old hand, molding the energy of the crowd through the tips of his fingers.

On the live stage, Shy Glizzy’s effortless charisma warmed up the early crowd, followed by an electric display from Phil Adé, who spat flames from the speakers stacked in front of the stage. The pinnacle of the show came when rapper ASAP Ferg and surprise guest ASAP Rocky performed “Shabba,” turning the Fairgrounds into a sea of pandemonium.

But not everyone got to see this moment. Trillectro is now in its second year, and organizers DC to BC haven’t worked out all of the kinks. Many unhappy ticket-holders waited in line for hours to get in, and some gave up altogether. Plus, the VIP area was mobbed with people demanding entry, and artists complained here and there about a lack of organization on the part of the staff.

Trillectro was inspiring in scope and ambition, but the planning could have gone better, and this was never more obvious than when the District’s hip-hop superstar took the stage. Instead of performing, Wale repeatedly explained that he was contractually forbidden from completing a whole song (something to do with his upcoming tour with rapper J. Cole). So his DJ would start to play crowd pleasers, only to cut them off after a few seconds. It was frustrating, to say the least. Then DJ Carnage came on to close out the show, but by that point, it was past Trillectro’s bedtime, and the music had to be turned down.

Yenigun is a freelance writer.

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