This past weekend, we at Where’s the Vibe, attended the Saturday slot of Breakaway Music Festival, Columbus Ohio. Columbus hosts Breakaway outside of MAPFRE stadium, and holds a pretty standard three day format. Breakaway’s lineup carries mainly hip-hop and EDM artists. Headliners this year were Halsey, Odesza, and Migos. With this basic knowledge of the festival in mind, lets get to the Breakaway breakdown.
We feel the best way to showcase all parts of the festival, without dragging on too long, is by talking about the venue, the artists, what was done well, and what could use improvement. This being our first concert/festival discussion, we felt it necessary to highlight our general format from now on.
As said before MAPFRE stadium houses Breakaway Columbus. The festival slightly utilizes the stadium for some concessions and restrooms, but otherwise is fixed in the parking lot. This year Breakaway had two stages (Main and Prime stages) and a Silent Disco (Smirnoff Silent Disco).
The location and set-up, of the stages, was what we thought ideal. Main stage was backed up against I-71 South with the Silent Disco in between it and the side of the stadium. Prime stage was then located in front of the stadium, and right by the gates to enter the concert. This setup allowed for a large space in between stages, which gave room for an extensive pop-up tent showcase, as well as providing some sitting room in different grass patches.
There was a sense of simplicity in the set-up, which did not hurt it at all. The openness and easy accessibility made sure getting lost or getting where you needed to go was never an issue. Though getting from stage to stage was never a hard task, the set-up did allow you to wander and make the trip a little longer or more fruitful, with the tent set-up. It almost seemed as if you were passing a “Breakaway Bazar” when moving from stage to stage. Which again, contributed to a strong venue set-up.
Being an EDM blog, it goes without saying that the line-up of artists we saw fit our M.O. We moved from stage to stage throughout the day, and ended up seeing the following:
1. Patrick Lam v. Vice Versa (Smirnoff Silent Disco)
2. 4 Grand v. Bas-sic (Smirnoff Silent Disco)
3. Phantoms (Prime Stage)
4. Boombox Cartel (Main Stage)
5. Ekali (Prime Stage)
6. Kaskade (Main Stage)
7. Odesza (Main Stage).
Without going deeply into each artist, we feel it is best to talk about the highlights of having seen each one. Our Silent Disco artists provided such a fun time, allowing us to start our day switching back and forth between house, bass-heavy dubstep, pop EDM, and even some trap. It allowed us to establish a hype vibe for the day ahead. However, that “hype” was not necessarily sustained. Phantoms provided more of a relaxed and organic feeling with the made on-stage music. They gave a super cool set and were very present in it- as to say you knew they were “two dudes from L.A. just making music” (great music at that). The vibe that Phantoms set was then altered by Boombox Cartel. This man came to Main Stage and THREW DOWN. He dropped everything under the sun that could keep you dancing. He established such an energy, which made him our favorite artist of the day. Riding on a lot of energy again like the beginning of the day we rolled over to the last bit of Ekali, who had a very smooth set that was great, but not the same energy caliber as Boombox. However, after Ekali, we had Kaskade which was a BEAUTIFUL transition. The two complimented each other very well. Kaskade put on another amazing set, which made us super happy, because we did not have a great feeling going into it. (Tanner had seen him before and was not impressed). Then after Kaskade was Odesza…. 40 minutes behind schedule. We suspect it was setup that took so long, but we still never confirmed it. That 40 minutes of waiting was grueling- no music, on asphalt, just waiting and waiting. Without a doubt the vibe was harmed by this stint of unclaimed time. Already bruised by a wait, the vibe just did not get to where we wanted it with Odesza either. We did not know what to expect, but were looking for something that was never there. The set was beautiful, magical, and truly theatrical, but we wanted to shuffle until our knees wouldn’t bend. So the ending was not what we had planned, but that really has nothing to do with Odesza (because seriously the set was life changing).
All-in-all the line up we saw that day was super, but it just was not super together. There was a lot of shifting of scope pretty drastically, and it made it hard to ride a certain vibe all day. Even with that being said, each artist did so well that it made seeing each one worth it completely.
Done Well and Needs Work
We have touched on some on the great and not-so-great aspects of the venue and the artists, but as a festival there are some more overall things that we need to talk about. We will start with the well-done and then move on into our list of changes we expect to see next year.
Breakaway this year really killed it on their set-up. We know we said it already, but we need to say it again. The stage set-up was so easy, and the utilization of the outside of the stadium was nothing but adventitious. Their “Breakaway Bazar” held so many unique aspects. The elements that stuck out most to us were the functioning tattoo tent, “feel room”, and the extensive clothing. Having Columbus tattoo artists dishing out ink at a festival was such a new and fresh concept to us, and we hope to see that return to Breakaway and maybe beyond. We were just as surprised to see a tattoo parlor as we were to see a “feel room”. This was a dimly lit little shack with walls covered in the most interesting feeling items ever. Even though it was crafted for those who use substances at festivals, it was a cool aspect for even the most sober. Which can be said for the clothing as well. There were so many clothing shops that had displays which had us pointing and saying “I want”. And those clothes weren’t even in the merch shop. But the merch shop was hitting home runs as well. Almost all of the Breakaway merch was Adidas brand name, which was such a huge selling point for us and a cool way to incorporate MAPFRE stadium soccer.
Beyond all the merch and tents, there were two other large “ya done good” aspects. These were the extensive beer selection and great photo opportunities. Breakaway provided so many places to get beer, and so many beers to try. We are beer lovers, so this always enhances a festival for us. So does being able to commemorate going, with a picture. There were two solid photo spots that really gave you the perfect place to capture a moment with whoever you wanted.
With all that good being said, it hurts a little to do this next part, but stay humble Breakaway. Our biggest Breakaway beefs are more with how things were done, not the fact that they were done.
Starting with where food and drink end, we need to talk about the bathrooms. It was nice that they used MAPFRE restrooms, but there was only one that was easily accessible moving from stage to stage, which meant there was always a line. Port-o-Potties would have been a nice way to relieve that. Especially seeing that there was A LOT of un-utilizied space at the back of the venue. This space made it feel like there were less people there, and just seemed to take away from our compliments to the set-up.
Beyond physical set-up, we just felt there was a cohesiveness issue. That permeated into the flow of the day in two ways, both of which we already touched on.
Way one is actual time schedule. We understand there was some rain earlier in the day that could have affected this, but that wasn’t communicated nor did it seem to affect all sets. A schedule is a fest-goers bread and butter, so when you mess with that you mess with the experience.
Way two was again the musical flow. There were so many bomb-ass EDM artists, but did all of them go together? Not quite. It just felt like a meal that had too many conflicting tastes- just really confusing your pallet. There were no regrets in who we saw, but we would have liked to have seen artists that all held closer vibes, or who built onto one another, like a plot line.
Now beyond all the artists and set-up and merch and vibes, there is one simple thing we ask. Breakaway… Please SWITCH TO WRISTBANDS. There are so many great aspects to festivals, and there are so many that Breakaway does so well, but can we get a wristband. We feel it makes things so much easier and smoother, as well as giving festival lovers a really strong memento.
Again none of our complaints are that big, and none of them outweigh the great time we had. They are more just hopes and dreams that we want to come to fruition. But with them, our Breakaway breakdown comes to a close. Breakaway provided us with such a great day, and was a great local festival for us. A great opportunity to see amazing artists and just be around what we love so much.
Thank you for reading, and we will see you tomorrow for our regular posts. Peace.