When I entered Trillectro, a music festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland, I could feel the atmosphere shift from the streets of Maryland. The colors were brighter, the music was louder and the people were happier. The anticipation and excitement were tangible as I steadily made my way toward the concert entrance where I was joined by fellow concertgoers. As I entered, the smell of cheap beer hit my nose while the music reverberated throughout my body and consumed the room.

In 2007, Quinn Coleman, Marcel Marshall and Modele “Modi” Oyewole, three Washington, D.C. natives, decided to start a Boston College radio show, DC to BC, on WVBC AM. Unbeknownst to them, five years later, they would announce the first ever Trillectro, a festival featuring electronic, hip-hop, R&B and indie-rock performances.

In 2015, Coleman, Oyewole and Marshall made the decision to move Trillectro out of D.C. to the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland. The group had initially worried about moving the D.C.-based music festival out of the city for fear of losing the city’s culture and creating transportation problems for their District fanbase. However, as Trillectro grew, so did its audience and need for a larger venue.

This change in venue resulted in a one-year hiatus of Trillectro due to a $55 million renovation of the Merriweather Post Pavilion after the roof of the reserved seating collapsed in Jan. 2018. Thankfully, the building is now structurally sound and Trillectro is back and better than ever.

Merriweather Post Pavilion is split up into three stages: the Pavilion Stage, the Hill Stage and the 9:32 club. Each location has a contrasting, yet complementary vibe. The Pavilion Stage is the largest, which accommodates the crowds that the lineup’s most popular acts garner. The Hill Stage sits to the left of the Pavilion Stage on top of a grass trodden hill, as the name would suggest. Finally, the 9:32 club offers a medium-sized, semi-enclosed area with a bar and video screens streaming the events on the Pavilion Stage. Its name and ambiance emulate the iconic 9:30 Club in the Shaw neighborhood of D.C.

Beyond the fantastical allure of the festival itself, Trillectro offered a showcase for local talent, including up-and-coming musicians and small artists. At the start of the day-long event, lesser known musicians made the stage — most notably, rising rapper Soduh, rock band First Family and hip-hop artist Beau Young Prince. Headliners SZA, 2 Chainz and RL Grime performed in the evening.

As day turned to night, the crowd became younger and wilder. The lawn filled with wide-eyed young adults waiting for Young Thug, The Internet and Rico Nasty. While the sky grew darker and the moon emerged, an array of different colored lights of the venue pierced the crowd. The trash from food and beverages which built up during the day fell away into the background in favor of the spirited performances and transcendental vibes.

Sheck Wes, a Harlem rapper, generated buzz and drew a crowd. Everyone gathered around for “Mo Bamba,” Wes’ summer hit viewed on YouTube more than 15 million times. In disjointed unison, the audience bounced along to the hard-hitting beat as the neon stage lights immersed the venue.

Rap star Playboi Carti generated an even wilder crowd. During the performance, an unknown individual was seen quickly approaching the prolific musician between songs. Carti appeared to throw a punch at the individual before security escorted him off stage. Despite the commotion, Carti ended the performance maintaining the crowd’s enthusiasm.

SZA, a pop star who rose to fame after signing to Kendrick Lamar’s record label imprint TDE, ended the concert with passion and lightheartedness. Unlike most other musicians at Trillectro, SZA addressed the audience by introducing each song with playful anecdotes and appreciation for the outpouring of support. Unsurprisingly, SZA performed many songs from her 2017 debut studio album, “Ctrl.” Her deeply self-analytical yet empowering songs resonated with the crowd. For a slower-paced artist, SZA managed to keep the energy alive and the crowd swaying.

Trillectro was an experience that live music fans, even those who do not call the District their home, should not miss. Star performers, effervescent vibes and great music attracted likeminded individuals to enjoy a shared passion. Trillectro bridged the boundaries between electronic music and hip-hop to create one unforgettable music festival.

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