The last time the Breakaway Music Festival was held, Donald Trump was only a loud billionaire, Britain was still in the European Union and Nelson Mandela was still alive. The headliners of 2013’s fest were Kendrick Lamar, Empire of the Sun and Tokyo Police Club, a promising line-up for an even more promising festival. However, the 2013 edition was followed by three years of absence, 1095 days of unexplained silence, probably enough time to mourn the South African leader.
But on Saturday at the Ohio Expo Center, Young Thug, Ty Dolla Sign, RL Grime and the other artists broke away from silence and brought the second day of the second edition of Breakaway Fest.
It is under the 4 p.m burning sun that I saw Desiigner redefine the concept of interaction with the audience. The two emcees don’t practice crowd diving, but crowd crawling. They spent most of their set in the pit, among the confused photographers, making the crowd jump more than what would be considered reasonable at a temperature of 86 degrees.
I must not have been the only one taking pity on the two emcees bouncing around with this kind of weather because a few minutes after they finished their set, the security team closed the main stage and directed the crowd indoors because of an incoming storm. The heavy rain and strong wind gusts soon ended up convincing the reluctant music fans of the comfort offered by the indoor stage.
Inside, Young Thug set up before a vibrating crowd. The Atlanta rapper opened his set alone, mixing with one hand and singing with the other before he was joined by two emcees that set the crowd on fire with an incandescent version of “With That.” The performance by the Southern rapper was one of the most notable of the evening.
At dusk, when the weather finally permitted it, the main stage was plugged back in. At that time of the evening, the official sport was puddle tap-dancing, preferably with light-up shoes. This was when Gryffin took the stage and put on a blasting DJ set.
The night continued with the cheered-up Benny Benassi and Ookay, with his unexpected formation of acoustic drum set and electric guitar.
The highly-anticipated Californian rapper, Ty Dolla Sign, brought the Taylor Gang to Columbus for a very uneven performance. While some of the hits scored points with the audience, the whole performance lacked dynamism and rhythm. The highest point of awkwardness was when the rapper tried his hand at a slap bass solo. If you’ve ever seen a 5 year old hitting pots and pans with 2 spoons in lieu of drumsticks, you’ve got the picture.
The new venue for the festival is of the most conventional nature. The indoor stage, located in a immense warehouse, was dedicated mostly to the blasting of electro-DJ Sets. Then there’s the main stage located on what one could call a parking lot.
Do not misunderstand me, I loved the venue and so did most of the festival-goers sitting in a circle on the burning asphalt. The whole picture had something of a surrealist DIY nature. The colored ski lift at the entrance, the disguised teenagers in the parking lot and the hard-core DJ-set blasting at 3 p.m. made me wonder in what alternative section of reality I ended up in.
Fortunately, RL Grime’s dark electro mass and D.R.A.M.’s gospel-ish lyricism successfully wrapped up the night. The second edition of the Breakaway Festival had the good and the bad aspects of a DIY festival. The unusual venue, the local artists and the relaxed atmosphere made it a great event that I want to come back again next year. I only hope that the next edition will avoid pitfalls like the poor bad weather management, or the few technical issues.
And don’t wait three years, please.