At the PNE Amphitheatre

with Migos (kinda), Tory Lanez, and more

Photo courtesy of My VanCity

Written by: Michelle Gomez

Ambiance: B+

I’m at the PNE Amphitheatre for a two-day rap and hip-hop concert called Breakout Festival. While most of us can agree that there is nothing better than an outdoor concert on a warm summer evening, the weather in Vancouver is ever-changing madness and you never know what kind of day you’ll get. Luckily, the sun is shining on this particular weekend and it only rains once for about an hour.

     The music starts at 3 p.m. on both days, and while the crowd is sparse at the beginning, people eventually come streaming in as the evening progresses. Despite the occasional group of screaming 12-year-olds, the energy is high and the vibes are good.

Accessibility: A+

Considering that the venue is a large outdoor amphitheatre, there is tons of space to stand and move around, and lots of bleacher space to sit on. There are no stairs to get in and there are wheelchair-accessible bathrooms. Since most of the bathrooms are unlabeled portable toilets, they count as being gender-neutral.

Music and dancing: C

The concert tickets come with passes to Playland for the day, so my friends and I decide to go on a few rides instead of hanging around for the opening acts. We head over to the amphitheatre at around 6 p.m., when the bigger acts started playing, and at this point the sound systems are loud and the music is bumping. The headliner for day one, Tory Lanez, spends about 30 minutes crowd-surfing while his songs are still playing uninterrupted, leading me to believe that he may be lip-syncing.

     Now, picture this: it’s day two of the concert, and in 20 minutes the headliner and reason you came, Migos, is coming on. A Migos song is playing on the speaker and everyone is screaming along. The air is filled with excitement and anticipation. And then you hear it — the murmurs, the shouts of desperation, the cries of pain. People are saying Migos isn’t headlining anymore. You pull out your phone and check the event page and sure enough, they have just posted that Migos did not make it to Vancouver.

     At first, I’m disappointed, angry, and even sad, because I realize I bought my tickets from someone for cheaper, so there is no way to be refunded. Eventually, the concert-goers start to bond over their mutual anger and disappointment, and although we never get to see Migos, we make the best of the situation and dance for the remainder of the concert.  

     Overall, it’s traumatizing, and I will live with trust issues against music festivals for the rest of my life. The music is disappointing, but the energy from the crowd slightly makes up for it. Considering that a lot of the smaller acts are Vancouver-based, I will allow a passing grade for music.

Bar service and food: B

There are decent yet expensive food options, which include a number of different food trucks and Playland food before 6 p.m. The drinks are overpriced as usual, ranging from $7–10 with options such as beer, cider, Palm Bay, and highballs. Although the wait for drinks is long, the servers and staff are all friendly and smiling.

Overall grade: B-

While I highly suspect that this will be Breakout Festival’s first and last year, the PNE Amphitheatre lives on. Overall, I give this venue a B- for its spaciousness, friendly staff, and variety of snack options.