D.R.A.M. / Photos by Keem Griffey
Trillectro isn’t new to bringing the most in-demand emerging stars of the rap and EDM worlds together. Throughout its four-year existence, the DC festival has grown steadily, showcasing national standouts like A$AP Ferg, Baauer, and Schoolboy Q as well as hometown heroes like Wale, Shy Glizzy, and Fat Trel. It's also had to adapt based on changing venues: This year's installment took place in Maryland at Merriweather Post Pavillion, the fest's third location in four years and its first time outside of metropolitan DC. But the change of location had no effect on changing the mood. It seemed clear based on the amount of signs, merch, and cut-out heads that most in attendance came to see Chance The Rapper, but the other acts were met with a similarly raging embrace.
Late in the afternoon, D.R.A.M. ran onstage bellowing ad libs before going into full funk mode and singing Bootsy Collins’s “Rather Be With You.” He teased “Cha Cha” to an eager crowd that was more than prepared to bounce around uncontrollably and proceeded to perform some of his standouts from “Super Lit” to “$.”
“Touring with the big homie Waka [Flocka] taught me how to play to certain crowds,” D.R.A.M. told me after his set. “Right now his shows are mostly filled with the white EDM crowds, and they’re trying to get turnt all night so I perform my most turned up tracks.” Those lessons translated to Saturday even when he performed slower tracks like “Caretaker” from Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment’s Surf for a racially diverse crowd. Chance the Rapper attempted to get a close-up view of the set from the left of the stage, but a group of teenage girls rocking glittery jersey T-shirts with “Chance” across their shoulders instantly spotted him and were close to tears, screaming “I HOPE HE SEE ME…I LOVE YOU!”
HI$TO and TT the Artist
The festival's 9:32 Stage housed more alternative regional acts. Baltimore’s HI$TO and TT The Artist played club tracks that prompted the crowd to jump until the floor began to shake, and the DMV-based Mista Selecta, Kelow, and Babeo Baggins's group Barf Troop had a similarly crazy response. “It’s one of the few events in this area that continuously brings out really good people. There’s not a single dull moment,” Baggins said before she took the stage. “It’s constant positive energy.” Aside from surprisingly draggy sets by EDM heavyweights Cashmere Cat and RL Grime, that energy never wavered throughout Trillectro’s 11 hours.
Merriwether truly erupted, though, for Oakland's Kehlani, who mostly performed tracks from her mixtape from earlier this year,You Should Be Here. A quick glance around the crowd showed men mesmerized by her stage presence and women waving their hands and fervently singing along to “Niggas”, “Yet” and “The Way”. Dom Kennedy’s set was similarly recited word-for-word by fans—until he began performing tracks from his newest project By Dom Kennedy. That instead prompted someone behind me to scream “This new shit is trash!”
Chance the Rapper
None of this mattered once Chance The Rapper’s time came, though. Before he even graced the stage, just the dimming of lights was met with an explosion of applause. He and his band played fan favorites from 10 Day, Acid Rap, and Surf, including “Sunday Candy,” “Lost” (during which he brought Noname Gypsy on stage), and “Juice.” Hearing “Wonderful Everyday: Arthur” live seemed to send a contagious smile throughout the crowd as well. What made Chance’s closing set so special on Saturday couldn’t be attributed to any song in particular, though; Donnie Trumpet’s serenading solos and the experience of watching a rapper perform with a live band, pilot the crowd and bare all vulnerabilities was spiritually fulfilling.
Chance the Rapper
Lawrence Burney is a writer living in Baltimore. Follow him on Twitter.
Keem Griffey is a photographer living in Baltimore. Follow him on Twitter.