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Breakaway Music Festival / Columbus Crew Stadium / Columbus, Ohio / September 14, 2013

By Kyle Rutherford, Staff Writer

Earlier this week, it was home to the United States’ men’s soccer team’s victory over Mexico in their World Cup qualifying match. Four days later, it was home to the inaugural Breakaway Music Festival, an eclectic music festival put on by Columbus’ Prime Social Group and Columbus Crew Stadium. With another festival taking place in Dallas next weekend, both festivals have strong lineups that feature hip-hop, electronic dance music, indie rock and other genres.

The complex was set up in three stages: the main stage within the stadium, a large tent on the side for the Prime Stage and a local stage at the mouth of the main entrance. Small vendors crowded around the front entrance, and there were even a couple carnival attractions.

Fortunately, the early start didn’t stop crowds from showing up on time. Many attendees crowded the main stage to see Robert DeLong’sperformance style. The electro-rock producer surrounds himself with keyboards, percussion instruments and even game controllers to create danceable live tunes.

At this time, Columbus favorites CJ the DJ & Freaky Franz were ripping up the Prime Stage. Between popular songs spun by CJ, Franz performed his style of upbeat hip-hop that got the crowd excited early. The two were followed by another Columbus favorite, DJ Corrupt, who spun a great festival style multi-genre set.

Other than a few local stage acts, Tokyo Police Club was one of the few indie rock acts there. Even to mixed company, the Canadian rockers were able to keep the crowd happy throughout.

Two back-to-back sets from some of the festival’s young guns caught the attention of many there. Shreddie Mercury’s electro house set was a big surprise to dance fans. His heavy synth lines and dynamic style contrasted from a typical early festival house set, but wasn’t as in-your-face as some acts go. Next, Topher Jones almost brought the tent down with his progressive and festival house set. The Chicagoan, a diehard Buckeyes fan, performed a ton of original music, from beautiful tracks like “Save Me” and “Hello Chicago,” to his electro banger “Brohammer.”When it came to the main stage hip-hop artists, one would think with the popularity of the two, they would be some of the best sets. However, both Juicy J and Kendrick Lamar played two of the most lackluster sets of the day.

While smoking weed, drinking champagne and asking the crowd where the best strip club he could “turn up” in was, Juicy J had a very laid back attitude toward his set. Playing most songs only about halfway through, he performed many of his hits like “Show Out” and his song collaboration with B.O.B, “We Still In This Bitch,” much to the crowd’s enjoyment. As a whole, he seemed a bit closed off at times from the small crowd.

The high point of Lamar’s set was his instrumentals. Other than that, he acted as more of an MC at times rather than a performer, rapping only about half of his lines and focusing on crowd participation to finish the rest. Lamar gave off spurts of energy throughout “Backseat Freestyle” and “Fuckin’ Problems,” but it didn’t deter from how disappointing his performance style was. Between those two main stage acts were some of the more exciting acts of the day.

Returning to their hometown, electro rock and hip-hop act Twenty One Pilots brought their impressive live show back to an excited audience. Opening with the eerie “Ode to Sleep,” vocalist and keyboardist Tyler Joseph bounded around the stage while percussionist Josh Dun banged the hell out of his drums. Ripping through radio hits like “Holding On to You” and “Guns for Hands,” the two’s energetic pop sound brought the faithful crowd into a frenzy, from their younger new fans to their diehard older ones.

Showing his true colors as one of the top dance music artists right now,Porter Robinson played the craziest and highest-quality set of the day. Mixing fluidly between electro house, dubstep, hardcore, moombahton and hardstyle, the 21-year-old and best friend of Skrillex broke down the barriers of artists only playing only one or two styles of music during a festival set.

Continuing into the early evening, the tent area was full of dance music.The Knocks and LA Riots both played heavy electro and progressive tunes, with the former playing many original tunes while the latter played many songs you’d here at any dance music festival, like Showtek’s “Cannonball” and Sebastian Ingrosso & Tommy Trash’s “Reload.”

Danny Avila’s had one of the more technical and fluid sets of the day, even as the youngest touring act there. Like many before him, Avila played a mixture of progressive and electro tunes, like remixes of Doctor P’s “Bass Cannon” and “Heads Will Roll,” also briefly going into heavy drumstep and trap. His “Ready to Jump” live show kept the crowd on their feet and showed why he is becoming one of the most exciting new acts in the scene. Playing many popular songs and a few of their own trance tunes, Tritonal’s set was the perfect way to end the music under the tent.

Grooving up the main stage with their electro synth pop, Australia’sEmpire of the Sun played one of the most awe-inspiring shows the stadium has probably ever seen. With beautiful music, like their hits “Alive” and “Walking on Dream,” choreographed dancers and insane visual elements, the beauty of the whole experience was truly enhanced by the fact that you were watching it under the stars.

Rattling in with a sample of “Welcome to the Jungle,” the king of bass,Bassnectar, thundered in. The packed crowd swayed, jumped and got down to the Californian’s genius performance, consisting of monster dubstep, heavy trap, crazy drum and bass and breakbeat music. At some points, his intense sound sounded like it was inspired by metal and rock concerts rather than dance music, but quickly turned back into the heavy synth melodies and crunchy bass that dance music is known to contain. His “bass heads” knew every song and his more popular music was loved by the massive crowd.

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