Youth is an essence as much as it is a phase of life. That’s definitely so for Trillectro, which wrapped up its second stint at Merriweather Post Pavilion skewing younger than previous outings — a new wrinkle in the D.C.-born affair’s five-year history.
Trillectro’s vibrant lineup at the venerable Columbia, Md., venue reflected the valuable understanding that youthful energy is one of music’s guiding lights. Artists like Philly rapper Lil Uzi Vert, a self-professed “rock star,” reflected the target audience’s attitude: His pogo-sticking around the amphitheater stage to “Buy It” and “Money Longer” brought a noticeable change of pace. It escalated once more when GoldLink, live band and all, deviated from the mellow daze of his “Ay Ay” and “Sober Thoughts” to deploy fellow D.C. rapper Shy Glizzy for the latter’s “Awwsome” and iteration of O.T. Genasis’s “Cut It.” GoldLink first performed at Trillectro in 2014. His graduation to the main stage in two years demonstrates his growth and also is a testament to Trillectro’s knowing what’s next. Yet he wasn’t the only performer whose profile has increased considerably since making a Trillectro debut.
Mercurial brothers Rae Sremmurd also appeared at Trillectro two years ago, eager to prove that the contagious vigor of “No Flex Zone” was no fluke. On Saturday night, they unleashed the best of what followed, spanning from the heavy bass of “No Type” to the kinetic “Start a Party” from their new album, “Sremm Life 2.” Known for their rambunctiousness, they balanced their set with the warm, understated grind of “By Chance” and “Look Alive” and helped create the perfect Saturday-night ambience for headliner Kid Cudi.
At 32, Kid Cudi is older than the rest of Trillectro’s performers, but the occasionally somber Cleveland native earned his “Mr. Rager” moniker by embodying the festival’s approach before it even existed. His set design, which he called his “clubhouse,” complete with a red carpet, was exemplary of a late-summer house party. He ended the night by premiering a new, funk-driven song produced by Pharrell Williams, but it’s his older material that best frames Trillectro’s legacy. “Just What I Am” and his inspirational gift, “Pursuit of Happiness,” both speak to the freedom of youth.
For five summers, Trillectro has marked the season’s bittersweet death knell. And although the demographic seems to get younger each year, Kid Cudi used this year to prove youth isn’t wasted on, or reserved for, the young.