Cannabis has been legalized in Michigan, and Breakaway Music Festival is helping usher in the new era.
Breakaway Music Festival takes place every summer, now across five different states, between May and October. It travels from the East Coast to the West Coast, stopping in Charlotte twice and hitting Kansas City, Ohio, Boston, and the Bay Area. Artists like Zedd, GRiZ, Liquid Stranger, Flume, Lane 8, Madeon, Dom Dolla, and many others have been featured throughout the run of these festivals this year. When it stopped in Grand Rapids, there was no doubt it would be a magical edition.
This year saw Breakaway take over Belknap Park on August 18-19, and headlining the weekend were a diverse range of artists: deadmau5, RL Grime, Porter Robinson, and Tiësto. Porter Robinson had to have been the highlight of this event. It was the most beautiful, fun, and ethereal set I have caught in a long time. With some newer music and classic throwbacks, he blessed us with all of the best. It was such a great set. I got to hear almost every song I’ve wanted to hear from him live. I’d love to see him again.
Tiësto’s performance was super fun as well. He threw in a remix of Lana Del Rey’s “Say Yes To Heaven” that will forever live rent-free in my mind. In a moment I’ll never forget, the whole crowd went wild. RL Grime and Audien both played such incredible sets. They were a lot more upbeat, which is just my speed. It was nice to sprinkle a wider range of bass and other genres like trap and house. Additionally, I’m glad I got the chance to see Jessie Murph. She’s got so much passion and pain in her voice that it was fun to sing along to some of those songs. At only 18 years old, this girl is such an icon.
There were a couple of vendors, art installations, and games by the stage. The options for food were pretty expansive, especially since it was a smaller festival. Island Noodles is always a fan favorite — but there was a lot of interest, and probably the longest line, for the barbecue food truck as well. They had games like cornhole set up and available for anyone to play. Others could sit back, relax, and watch.
There was a super-cool silent disco at the top of the hill where you could catch artists who’ve started to make names for themselves in the area. There were quite a few options for after-parties spread throughout this special city as well for anyone who wanted to keep partying deeper into the night.
One of the most welcome surprises at Breakaway Music Festival this year was the inclusion of many cannabis activations.
JARS Cannabis teamed up with the festival to be the main sponsor this year, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. Ascend Dispensaries, Cloud Cannabis, House of Dank, and Mitten Extracts were just a few of the other local businesses in the cannabis industry that showed up to promote themselves. Countless free pre-roll coupons, disposable dab pens, and all kinds of merchandise ranging from stickers to sunglasses to koozies were being passed out throughout the entire venue. They even had representatives from some of the dispensaries up on the stage throwing THC-related T-shirts and all sorts of other things, both fashionable and functional, into the crowd.
I’d never seen anything like it at any festivals I’ve attended in the last couple of years across the US. It was empowering to see something that was looked down upon for so long actually become celebrated and appreciated by the masses. More people are starting to see and embrace it as the medicinal plant that it is, to be sure. It nonetheless would’ve been nice to have more educational information available at the festival to highlight the beneficial side of THC and CBD consumption and usage.
The vibes were high at Breakaway as long as you kept an open mind.
The crowd at this event was different from my typical one, but I knew that was the case going in. Obnoxious screaming and random sound effects throughout the entire duration of some songs kept some of us from enjoying ourselves or even getting a good 30-second video. Too many people aggressively pushed their way through the crowd without a simple “excuse me.” Many people were dragged out for multiple reasons within the first couple of hours, too. It honestly felt like it was mostly a bunch of teenagers who were partaking in party favors for their first time. Festival etiquette didn’t seem to really exist here.
Crowd aside, I was grateful to have attended the event since it takes place in my current backyard. I still managed to have a great experience and saw some fantastic artists for the first time. Cannabis-driven experiences are the new wave, and it’s great to see Breakaway joining others like Northern Nights and Outside Lands to help pave the way. It will be cool to see more festivals incorporate cannabis into their events as states continue to legalize and normalize marijuana throughout the country, especially as I’ve worked in the industry for the past two years.
All in all, Breakaway Music Festival in Grand Rapids was a success, and I’m excited to see what they’ve got in store for next year’s edition. There’s still time to experience this festival for yourself, as there are two more upcoming stops. One is back in Charlotte on September 29-30 and then Bay Area on October 13-14. Head to their website for more details.