Festival Report Card

Festival Report Card: Breakaway Bay Area 2023

Breakaway Bay Area

The Bay Area rave scene is a unique one, with a prominent presence of dance music that draws ravers from all over the region.

While artists often play in surrounding areas like Sacramento or San Jose, the occasional festivals that happen at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco serve as a magnet, bringing ravers from all parts of the Bay into the city.

Breakaway Festival hosts many festivals in various cities across the US, including Kansas City, Boston, and all the way to the beautiful Bay Area.

One thing that made this Breakaway Bay Area a bit different than the others is the use of an indoor venue versus the festival being held outdoors. Read below to hear about our experience: 

Breakaway Bay Area

Vibes: B-

The crowd at Breakaway Bay Area is diverse in the sense that you have first-timers being introduced to the rave community, those who wandered in without knowing much about the music (this is more common than you think), and obviously the seasoned ravers. 

With Halloween so close there was no shortage of costumes and PLUR trinkets being handed around, which added to the fun positive energy throughout the two days. Everyone was friendly, and the staff made sure everyone was safe and hydrated. 

With it being such an easy environment to introduce people to raving, we did run into a lot of people who maybe went over their limits a bit. But the beauty of Bill Graham is there’s plenty of surrounding spaces to chill so it’s easy to get away from the chaos and sit while still enjoying the show. 

Production: B-

The production at Breakaway Bay Area was simple yet effective. The festival was never short on lasers, and there were the occasional CO2 blasts. Even without extravagant elements, the balanced approach to production didn’t detract from the overall experience.

The smaller second stage hosted by Brownies & Lemonade was situated in a small narrow area, so the production was what you’d expect for the size. The stage and LEDs definitely had the room heating up (it was very hot in there), but thankfully they had staff passing out free water throughout the night.

Other areas such as the Silent Disco stage presented by White Claw, the Celsius activation, and Beatbox pop-up really added to the “festival like” vibe, giving attendees a place to chill and interact while grabbing food or drinks. 

Breakaway Bay Area

Music: A-

The lineup at Breakaway Bay Area was for sure a solid one. Bringing in headliners like Madeon, Alan Walker, Diesel, Nghtmre, and many more. Getting to hear the talent of vocalist Kaleena Zanders live was an exciting moment. 

We also had the chance to experience Diesel and the high energy of the crowd from an on-stage viewpoint which was crazy! Other big names like Peekaboo, What So Not, Moore Kismet, and Wuki delivered killer sets at the Brownies & Lemonade stage.

We found the lineup over the two days well curated and our desires for heavy bass as well as more melodic vibes were satisfied. Some of our favorite moments were during Peekaboo and Wuki‘s sets. The crowd was really engaged and with them playing in such an intimate space it brought back memories from some of our very first raves, a few of which happened to be at Bill Graham.

Venue: B

There’s a certain appeal of Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. As an indoor venue, it provides a welcoming and non-intimidating space for newcomers.

Utilizing the space to create more of that festival vibe presented its own set of advantages and challenges. The venue’s layout gives a very spacious main stage area, but when it comes to the smaller stages it’s less desirable.

There was a line set up to get into the Brownies and Lemonade stage due to the small occupancy size of the room, which did get lengthy at times.

Although we never waited longer than five minutes to get in, once inside it could feel pretty congested depending on who was playing, not to mention it was extremely hot in there. 

What we enjoy most about this particular venue though is all the auditorium seating, it’s so easy to go upstairs and chill without missing a set or sacrificing a good view.

Getting to and from the venue is also a big positive because it’s downtown and within walking distance of various forms of public transit.

Breakaway Bay Area

Overall: B

All in all, Breakaway Bay Area offered a wonderful weekend of positive vibes and great music. It was a nostalgic moment getting to revisit the space that was home to our very first rave, and to experience it from such a different point of view.

We had great interactions with fellow attendees and all the staff were very helpful in making sure everyone had a good time and stayed safe.

For those seeking a more intimate festival experience close to home, Breakaway provided a well-rounded experience and we look forward to attending more of their festivals in the future. 

All images courtesy of Breakaway Festival.

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