The Chainsmokers & Fetty Wap Turn Up at #Fest

Rob Berry
The Chainsmokers perform at #Fest in Athens, Ohio on April 16, 2016.

“My whole squad f--kin’ lit, lit, lit, lit,” rapped duo Futuristic and Devon Terrell at around 3:45 p.m. last Saturday (April 16) for a field full of thousands just outside of Athens, Ohio -- home to Ohio University and its almost 30,000-strong student body. The town’s #Fest (pronounced, “the Number Fest”), now in its 14th year, is what happens when festivals get peak festival: it is conceived for the festival crowd’s biggest demographic (the ever-coveted Millennials: in this case, college-aged ones), features its most notorious genre (dance music or EDM), and takes place in almost the middle of nowhere (for the first time, #Fest offered on-site camping). Songs like “Lit” amplified the Snapchat-primed crowd, the female members of which (from their perch atop some willing companion’s shoulders, natch) started taking their tops off at the rappers’ request. “You just have to get one to do it,” Futuristic explained later backstage. “Even if she doesn’t, if she gets off the guys shoulders, other girls might be like, ‘That girl was just lame’ -- then they’ll do it.”

Cheerful conformity was the order of the day as festival-goers carefully abided by an unwritten uniform: denim cut-offs, crop-tops, and Converse sneakers for women, and a sports jersey (the many audience members repping the New York Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis suggested that timeliness trumped homerism) and shorts for men. Niykee Heaton appeared onstage to mostly-female squeals in her own uniform -- not-pants -- for an unapologetically seductive performance of songs off her Bedroom Tour Playlist (when she wasn’t dancing, she was stroking the mic stand like it was well...not a mic stand). “This is a really big crowd, holy shit,” she said, looking over the insistent man holding up a sign that demanded “Let Me Eat U Out” at the thousands gathered beyond.

Slander followed, providing the most Millennial of diversions with an EDM remix of “The Circle Of Life” and likely the days’ tenth spin of Major Lazer/DJ Snake smash “Lean On.” A veritable stampede later, comedian-turned-rapper Lil Dicky had taken the stage -- within minutes, a bra was flung in his direction. “This is for Bruce Jenner’s new titties," he responded, before performing a faithful (and puzzling) rendition of the National Anthem. A few songs later, he was leading a “pro-choice” call-and-response chant.

The chants for Fetty Wap, though, were considerably more predictable. “When I say 17, y’all say…” had barely left the lips of one of Fetty’s Zoo Gang, before the crowd roared “38” in response -- the rapper had rolled up just a few minutes earlier (poetically as Lil Dicky performed their 2015 collaboration “$ave Dat Money”) in an Escalade that led a small motorcade. His last-minute arrival didn’t appear to impact the typically magnetic performance, though -- the crowd enthusiastically sang along to all his (many, many) hits, screaming “I got a Glock in my Rari” like they’d actually seen either, and Fetty’s a capella breakdowns easily won over any skeptics.

Current chart kings The Chainsmokers headlined the day’s festivities, and even before their set began, it was clear why when the crowd started feverishly chanting “Chain-smo-kers! Chain-smo-kers!” A mix of their own hits and songs as dissimilar (but all sing-a-long-worthy) as “Alright” and “Under The Bridge” heightened the frenzy. “If you're having the best f--king time ever, put your hands up!” shouted one. A tall order, but the crowd obliged.

Billboard Hot 100 Fest 2016