Dover’s Trio does double duty at Firefly Music Festival

Samuel “SAM” Carter, left, and Matt “Meeze” Coston, right, of Trio, a group from Dover, hype the crowd up on the North Hub stage Thursday morning at Firefly. (Special to the Delaware State News/Jon Lloyd Jr. )

DOVER — Thursday morning, before the Firefly Music Festival officially opens its gates, is usually a quiet morning. Pre-tanned campers, party-goers and music fans of all stripes taxi in from around the world, to set up for what will be a long four-day weekend of enjoying live music camping and spirits (the feeling kind and the drinking kind).

Kicking off in mild 75-degree, near cloudless weather, hometown Dover hip-hop group, Trio, was one of the first bands to welcome attendees arriving at Firefly’s North Hub camping section. The group played an hour-long set at the top of the bill and will be returning for a second performance on Sunday at 10 a.m. at the South Hub stage.

From beer tent to stage

If persistence is what it takes to make a name for oneself in the music industry, local Doverites Matthieu “Tribe Beats” Howe, Matt “Meeze” Coston and Samuel “SAM” Carter III are well on their way. The first significant leg of their journey has been to go from watching Firefly Music Festival acts from a beer tent they were working last year, to being on stage themselves Thursday morning.

All pursuing hip-hop individually, the three met each other by chance and found “instant chemistry” with one another’s lyrical styles.

“I met SAM through him being featured on some beats I sent this other group. When I heard him, I knew we had to work together,” said Mr. Howe. “I met Meeze at a party we were having. I just put some beats on and he started freestyling over them. We all vibed with each other immediately.”

Although the three originally hail from Oklahoma, New York and Philadelphia, they spent most of their formative years in Dover — Mr. Coston attended Dover High School and Mr. Howe and Mr. Carter went to Caesar Rodney.

Matthieu “Tribe Beats” Howe of Trio performs Thursday morning at Firefly. (Special to the Delaware State News/Jon Lloyd Jr. )

After meeting, they began spending time in Mr. Howe’s home studio writing music and riffing. They collaborated on Mr. Howe’s solo project “Law of Attraction” — released last May, and shortly afterward decided to bill themselves as a three-piece group. Their first live appearance was connected to Afterfly last year, the unofficial Firefly after party. From there they were invited to perform at a venue in Philadelphia.

“We were all of a sudden a group, so we had to decide what to call ourselves,” said Mr. Howe.

“We decided on Trio because SAM referenced a Trio in some of his lyrics and we just thought it fit well.”

After the success of their two inaugural live performances, they began the quest of getting into Firefly.

“Last year we were just watching the stages thinking, ‘Man, we have to get up there,’” said Mr. Howe.

Mr. Howe’s sister, Leslie Howe had done some photography work for various bands at Firefly and was familiar with a few Red Frog Events’ talent scouts, who produce the event. After courting them with several requests and music demos, the festival organizers offered two hour-long spots to the group.

The group had been busy during the build-up to the event, nearly meeting every day to prepare, they said. They logged several more live performances at various venues, including Wesley College, University of Delaware and World Cafe Live at the Queen in Wilmington — where they met their future manager Shaun Beastley.

“Trio is a group that bridges the gap between the mumble rap and hip-hop,” Mr. Beastley said about what drew him to the group. “They have a very eclectic sound with hip-hop melodies, hooks and delivery.”

They also found time to record an album together called “48 Hours.” They released it for free on SoundCloud in April.

Inspired by Dover

By day, the group members are a Sussex Correctional Institution rehabilitation counselor, a Dover Mall employee and a load master in the Air Force Reserve at Dover Air Force Base. Spending their youth in Dover has informed their lyrics and musical style, they say.

“This is a small town, that’s what inspires me,” said Mr. Carter. “Not many people in the industry are coming from small towns anymore. A lot of them are coming from New York or Atlanta and places like that, and it’s just a different lifestyle here.”

From left, Matt Coston, Matthieu Howe and Sam Carter relax in their Dover studio. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

At times, the group pulls themes like poverty from their surroundings.

“Dover can at times have a negative influence. We like to speak on poverty in our music,” said Mr. Coston.

“Mostly though, we’re talking about everyday life experiences. We’re in our 20s, we’re living, we still have bills and everything — we’re just average guys making music. We describe our style as ‘conscious fun.”

The group say they also pull inspiration from other acts such as J. Cole, Mobb Deep, G Unit, Drake, Andrea 3000, Lauryn Hill and Chance the Rapper. Mr. Coston said he’s especially looking forward to seeing Chance the Rapper’s performance at Firefly Saturday.

“It’s really cool that we’ll actually be performing at the same festival with so many of these great bands and musicians,” said Mr. Coston. “We’re going to try to see if we can say ‘what up?’ to Chance the Rapper.”

Trio will be performing again on Sunday at 10 a.m. on the South Hub stage near the speedway’s Miles the Monster statue.

The Firefly Music Festival continues through Sunday in Dover. For more information on the band, search @TrioTings on Instagram and Twitter.

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