Trillectro, D.C.’s first hip-hop and electronic dance festival, is an overall success


Tabi Bonney looks over the crowd as he performs at the inaugural Trillectro Festival at the Half Street Fairgrounds in Washington, D.C. (Kyle Gustafson/For The Washington Post)
August 12, 2012

Shortly after the sun set on the Trillectro music festival and DJ Wonder took the main stage, it began to pour. There was nowhere to hide. Aside from a few small tents, the venue was largely open pavement. But rather than whine or flee, the crowd bloomed. Like a Coca-Cola commercial come to life, people shrieked playfully, grabbed their friends and flooded the lot in front of the stage for a wet and wild dance party.

It was one of many magical moments at the hybrid hip-hop/electronic dance music (EDM) festival that took over Half Street Fairgrounds near Nationals Park on Saturday. Organized by the founders of the music Web site DC to BC, Trillectro was the first festival of its kind in the region and was projected to be a benchmark event long before the poetic weather.

The District is no stranger to hip-hop and has even produced a few stars, including Wale, Oddisee, Fat Trel and Tabi Bonney. But it has hometown heros in EDM, too, like DJs Tittsworth and Dave Nada, whose careers have boomed as dance music has become more popular.

So it was only a matter of time before the two scenes crossed paths, and if Trillectro is any indication of their chemistry, this could be quite the power couple.

There were two stages: The main stage hosted mostly live acts, including rappers Casey Veggies and Schoolboy Q, while the Red Bull stage featured DJs who set up turntables in the bed of a souped-up pickup truck.

There were nods to Washington everywhere. The first set of DJs to garner a big crowd was U Street Music Hall mainstays Nouveau Riche. Tabi Bonney wore a purple tie-dye T-shirt with “Rock Creek Social Club” emblazoned on the back to honor the organization’s two-year anniversary.

And finally, there was moombahton. The sexy, infectious blend of house and reggaeton that’s attributed to Dave Nada echoed from both ends of the festival and inspired more than just D.C. pride. It got people grooving. After some technical difficulties and a resulting lull at the Red Bull stage, all it took was some moombahton courtesy of DJ David Heartbreak to turn a crowd of 50 into 500 (impressive, considering he was minus one turntable and his headphones).

This set the tone for Tittsworth, who, after being introduced as the District’s “EDM aficionado” delivered the most rousing, rambunctious set of the day. As the first batch of rain coated the fairgrounds, there wasn’t a still body in sight.

Of course, like any first-time festival, there were glitches. A severe shortage of bathrooms and food vendors resulted in lines that often stretched up to 40 people long. Los Angeles rapper Schoolboy Q was given an hour-long slot, but joked after about 40 minutes that he was running out of songs to perform (a problem he solved by talking earnestly about his life pre-fame).

But the biggest snag came around 9:30 p.m., when noise complaints forced the staff to turn the volume so low, it could have been coming from a car stereo — an all-too-familiar scene for those who attended last year’s Fall Massive.

Of Trillectro’s 25-act lineup, the only group deeply affected was headliner Flosstradamus, the Chicago-based DJ duo known for their bass-heavy fusion of hip-hop and EDM. The pair took the stage shortly before 10 p.m., but the sound was so low that most folks threw in the towel. Flosstradamus tried to make the best of it (even hauling a few of the speakers closer to the audience), but it was a lost cause. The stage was shut down by 10:30 p.m.

To make things even more painful, MC Doug E. Fresh attempted to thank Flosstradamus but only got as far as, “I’d just like to acknowledge —” before the lights and his microphone were abruptly cut off. Not exactly a happy ending to an otherwise happy day.

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