Music aficionados flocked to Crew Stadium Saturday for the inaugural Breakaway Music Festival.
Presented by Prime Social Group and Crew Stadium, the daylong festival was the first of a new concert series bringing music festivals to Major League Soccer stadiums across the country.
“Prime Social Group’s motivation behind putting Breakaway Music Festival together was to execute a diverse festival experience, starting in our hometown of Columbus,” said Varun Ramanujam, the national public relations director for the concert promotions company. “We also wanted to help bridge the gap between sports fanatics and music festival-goers, as there is a lot of crossover, and (we were) able to achieve that.”
The multi-genre lineup — spanning indie rock, pop, electronic dance music and hip-hop — featured the likes of Tokyo Police Club, Empire of the Sun, Twenty One Pilots, Porter Robinson, Kendrick Lamar, Bassnectar and many more to allow for an eclectic experience.
“Our mantra for the festival is ‘Your Field, Your Fest,’ so we wanted to make sure there was a little bit of everything that would cater to just about anyone,” Ramanujam said.
Fans could also freely toggle between three different stages — the Main Stage, the Prime Stage and the Alive! Local Stage — throughout the day to get a taste of a multitude of artists, from well-known acts to up-and-coming artists and bands.
Topher Jones, a Chicago-based house music disc jockey, played a set at the Prime Stage, which was inside a large party tent, and said he was very pleased with the turnout and energy of the crowd.
“At the end, it ended up being really full, which was awesome,” Jones said. “It was really fun. Any time you’re in a tent and it’s hot and sweaty and people are jumping up and down, it’s great.”
Jones, whose parents are from Ohio, is an avid Ohio State fan and said this tied in to how excited he was to be performing in Columbus.
“I’ve been walking around and everyone has Ohio State gear on, so I’m like, ‘This is the greatest festival ever,’” he said. “This was my first-ever big show in Columbus. I’ve been here a million times for (OSU) games, so to come back and play as an artist and have fans singing along to the songs is really cool.”
Columbus’ own Forest & the Evergreens opened up the Main Stage lineup, followed by Robert DeLong.
DeLong, a self-proclaimed “indie songwriter meets electronic dance music” artist who takes an unorthodox approach to music, said he put everything he had into his set.
“I’m pretty tired,” he said after his set. “It’s kind of a blur to me.”
The one-man electronic band wanted to use different sound-changing techniques, such as using video game joysticks and drums as a means of engaging the audience, something he said he feels that electronic music DJs don’t do enough.
“So often when you go to see electronic performers, they’re standing up there, turning knobs or whatever, and you have no idea what they’re doing,” DeLong said. “I wanted to try and do something to make it more of a connection with the audience… it’s a little more visceral.”
Columbus duo Twenty One Pilots took the stage with their signature skeleton costumes and onstage acrobatics, including a leap off a piano to kick off the set.
“There are only two places in the world that matter: Columbus and the rest of the world,” frontman Tyler Joseph said to the crowd.
Porter Robinson, a 21-year-old house music DJ, provided house music that incessantly demanded for everyone in the crowd to raise his or her hands, accompanied by visual animations that ranged from animé characters to optical illusions.
At sunset, Kendrick Lamar got the crowd all riled up with his own blend of hip-hop that was full of sing-along verses and choruses.
Empire of the Sun and Lorin Ashton, known as Bassnectar, also performed at the festival. Bassnectar presented visual effects and light displays to complement his melodic buildups and bass drops.
Empire of the Sun, an Australian synth-pop duo known for eccentric outfits, provided a combination of smooth guitar riffs and synth-driven melodies with visual effects that included animations of tranquil space-like landscapes and theatrical dancers wearing futuristic jumpsuits and helmets.
Ramanujam said he found the festival to be a success and a learning experience for moving forward.
“The staffing for the festival and all of the Crew Stadium staff worked very hard on Saturday and were able to organize and execute the event beautifully,” he said. “We couldn’t be happier with the experience and how everything was run.”