Festival On the Rise: Trillectro

Article by: Marcus Dowling|@marcuskdowling

Fri February 20, 2015 | 00:00 AM

Three guys who started a music blog in college called DCtoBC.com (that had a hand in the success of artists like Kid Cudi) started a world-renowned underground festival, booking rising artists (of all genres) highly favored by Diplo, Skrillex and Kanye West. How did that happen? Well, let’s first take a trip to Indio, California.

In March 2012, Washington, DC area-based friends (and Boston College graduates) Modele Oyewole, Quinn Coleman and Marcel Marshall attended Coachella and decided while there that the nation’s capitol needed a similar type of transcendent music and cultural experience. Five months later (while still – as they do to this day – holding down full-time, non-festival jobs) a racially and culturally diverse crowd of 4,000 (mostly) millenials jammed to both the trill raps of hometown hero Wale and electro from Chicago’s heavy bass production duo Flosstradamus (and more) at the first annual Trillectro Festival – organized by the trio and a small crew of friends and associates.

Now it’s 2015 and Trillectro has outgrown the 4,000 person shipping container bandbox of the DC's Half-Street Fairgrounds. Last year, they moved to 80 acres outside the one-time home of the Washington Redskins, Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium. Filling 80 acres is quite the task, so the question must be asked: In a current environment where Snoop Dogg can DJ at Electric Zoo and EDM producers dominate rap’s mainstream, how will Trillectro handle its one-time unique aesthetic now being part of mainstream festival culture?

Oyewole’s thoughts on organizing the event also showcases the level of maturity of the young team in facing this task.

“Honestly, the answer to that is very simple," says Oyewole. "The biggest thing about planning a festival, and I think about being successful in general, is having organization.”

Quinn Coleman adds, “It's pretty organic for us to execute this on the booking and marketing side. It's always tough to secure premiere talent and to convert new ticket buyers, but our event is literally a result of our interest and passion.”

“I think Trillectro's vibe is still being determined,” Coleman continues. “The first two years definitely set the tone for what the event is supposed to feel like, but moving to a larger venue changed the energy up a bit. Now we have so much room to grow and add new elements and experiences, so that we can curate the vibe in so many more ways.”

Marcel Marshall adds, “[O]ur goal is to find partners that carry that same mission and carry the same narrative [as Trillectro]. We want to be the place where cultures converge and people learn and fellowship with people they may not normally get that chance to hang out with.”

“The ethos of [Trillectro] hasn’t ever wavered," says Marshall. "We know music. It's been [Trillectro's] hallmark. It’s always been about bringing cultures together in one place and highlighting great music. We stand out by trying to create moments.”

One moment from 2013 is likely to be found nowhere else in the world. Rapper A$AP Ferg’s frenetic trap-rap hit “Shabba” was arguably the hottest pop-rap song of the summer. While Ferg performed “Shabba” at Trillectro (alongside A$AP Rocky), roughly 50 other people mobbed the stage, performers and revelers in the crowd at the Half Street Fairgrounds, unified in their similar ratchet energies. The moment went viral on social media and was voted one of Complex.com’s “Biggest Moments of 2013.”

Insofar as 2015, though, Trillectro’s Quinn Coleman was mum about what’s to come except to say, “[expect] glowsticks, gold teeth, guitars and everything in between.”