Chance the Rapper, in the midst of a lively and enthralling performance, said a few words that encapsulated the entire Trillectro 2015 experience – and any Trillectro for years to come.
He said a special thank you to his fans, mentioning that in order to find his music, they have had to search for it in order for it to be heard – that it was obscure, leftist, somewhat hidden from the mainstream and that his album and, therefore his headlining Trillectro 2015, was theirs: after all, it is because of the fans that anything is possible for any artist.
To put it frankly, ‘that boy Chance – he ain’t neva lied.’
This year’s Trillectro was filled with artists that might not have piqued Billboard’s top 10, much less the mundane droll of the mainstream rotations, but the quality of their sounds, the intensity of their energy, and the love of their fans (not to mention their love for their fans) was evident from beginning to end.
I will meander through the highlights for those of you who shy away from the fan-boy laden live tweeting and snapchatting of events, but, as an overview, and to channel the sentiments of RL Grime, the event was nothing short of a movie.
Although this is the fourth Trillectro in history, many of the artists that have played under this umbrella have gone on to spread their wings and branch out from the underground into a relatively broader level of success (i.e. stepped into the mainstream). OG Maco, Travi$ Scott, and SchoolBoy Q are but a few that fit into that group.
Their 2015 successors were front and center. Virginia local D.R.A.M. was greeted with posters boasting his likeness and a fuller and livelier crowd than many of the other artists who played earlier in the day. He had great stage presence and wasn’t afraid to deliver his set the way he wanted. He played a snippet of the infamous “Cha Cha” but stopped the audience short right as they started to really get in the groove – moving on to give them a sampler of his lyrical prowess.
— BOONE (@JoshBoonePhoto) August 31, 2015
As he began to sing “I’d Rather Be With You,” by Bootsy Collins, I became nostalgic of ODB’s crude, yet melodic, harmonic achievements as a ‘singer,’ but was left impressed by D.R.A.M.’s ability to not only hold a note, but to sound pretty damn good while doing it. He can sing to me anytime – and that’s a fact. As someone who’s heard only two of his songs prior to his performance – I can honestly say that I respect his style and his delivery as an artist and look forward to seeing him develop in his career.
JMSN was quite meek in the beginning of his set, but brought up the energy of the crowd and made himself known to the unfamiliar as he warmed up to the crowd. It’s hard to imagine that he’s been making music and breaking into the music business since he was a teenager from his stage presence, but, for those who can appreciate good music when they hear it – his performance wasn’t a far cry from the general quality of those with whom he shared the stage. I won’t lie – hearing “Affection” live was one of the many high points of the night. I can easily see his steady incline given his collaborations with talented hit-makers like Ab-Soul and The Game, getting endorsements from Usher, and being compared to The Weeknd (I mean, sure, he does sound like a less druggy Weeknd, but he doesn’t sound exactly like a copy-cat, so why is anyone mad? Don’t we all wish the Weeknd would stop being so melancholy and sedated at times? Well, JMSN is the answer) and will be keeping an eye out for where his skills take him.
Kehlani was mentioned as THE next big thing by the Trillectro host, YesJulz. The Oakland native graced the stage with a down-to-earth set, baring her dazzling array of body art, accompanied by backup dancers, and garnering screams of joy and appreciation from the throngs of fans that filled the previously sparse stage front.
Even Babeo Baggins, who was holding it down on the 9:32 side stage with her BARF Crew and local DJs, rushed over to join the crowd right after her set ended. While it can be understood that artists pull out all of the stops in order to add to their delivery, Kehlani might do well to leave the backup dancers behind and be more of herself. As someone who has never heard of her music, I wasn’t particularly impressed by her performance nor her musical delivery – although her themes and content were made of the stuff one can relate to. Like many artists today (*cough*Jhene Aiko*cough*) she might be better digested through speakers rather than on stage – but, hey, her fans liked it so let’s check back in a year or two and see if the Trillectro prediction was spot on.
Speaking of the 9:32 stage – little secret: that is where the party was. From Babeo Baggins to Native Sun and DJ Ayes Cold’s cipher, there was non-stop greatness in continuous motion. When Mista Selecta began to turn the tables, I wasn’t sure if I had to hear anyone else – I felt that I’d experienced the heart of Trillectro within those rustic walls packed full of sweating, dancing, smiling, beautiful people.
He showed love to DC with a few GO-GO tracks and tried to end his set with a Reggae outro much to the crowd’s dismay.
Cashmere Cat was a disappointment as a follow up to hearing Mista Selecta – I say this with a heavy heart being that I actually like Cashmere Cat as a DJ and producer. While the crowd responded to his creative mix of synthesized rhythm and popular and lesser known tunes, Cashmere Cat, overall, drew a mixed response from the audience. I won’t say that he’s a bad DJ – because he’s not. What I will say is that some DJs don’t always garner the proper energy for live festivals all the time. I haven’t attended any other festival at which he’s performed so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Nevertheless, it was his popular songs that saved his set and not the skill that he obviously has. Another commendable and notable observation is his love for what he does. Seeing a stoic, focused DJ mixing groove-worthy sounds by the minute is great – if you can’t see him. Elevated on a stage in front of thousands, Cashmere showed no fear or fright – choosing not to hide his love for his artistry, bobbing his head and body swaying to the beat while taking moments to remove his headphones, immersing himself in the Trillectro experience as it is.
When a thin, lanky boy walked on stage with a long sleeved grey sweater and preppy hat – I was confused – what is the hype? Who is this ‘RL Grime’ fellow ? Mind you, I’ve never heard of him before Trillectro. He amazed me, and more than likely everyone else who shared my sentiment, with nothing but HIGH ENERGY on the incline from inception. Not only did he read the crowd to the smallest bit, but his onstage presence was certainly greater than his wiry frame. If he plays any club – if I can – I will be there. There can be nothing but reverence for the only artist on the main stage to incite a mini-mosh pit – although the crowd at 9:32 held it down and made a point of exemplifying quality over quantity with energy, excitement, and, for lack of a better term, ‘hypeness.’
Chance, who was headlining, opened with “Everybody’s Somebody’s Everything” and waltzed into his quintessential social experiment introduction, followed by the theme song to Arthur.
— TRILLECTRO! ⚡️ (@trillectro) August 30, 2015
If anyone was ever confused about Chance – his performance proves how overwhelmingly positive he is. His cultivation of elevated energy shines through his magnanimous stage presence – even when performing his track with Action Bronson, “Baby Blue,” his biting curses melted our ears like sweet kisses. I can’t tell whether it was a part of the show or a way for him to just be him, but Chance definitely played checkers on stage with NoNameGypsy while singing AT THE SAME DAMN TIME. If we wondered – he “won that shit,” right before he tossed the chips to screaming fans. Acid won’t stop you from being able to multi-task to the fullest, obviously.