The Breakout Festival grounds at Hastings Park in Vancouver quickly turned into a scene reminiscent of Woodstock ‘99 Sunday (Sept. 18) night, after the headlining act Lil Baby cancelled his performance at the last second.
Attendees’ disappointment quickly turned into anger, according to the festival’s organizers at the PNE, who said in a statement that their amphitheatre and parts of Hastings Park sustained significant damage.
About 5,200 people were in attendance, 4,200 of whom left the venue respectfully after organizers discovered Lil Baby had left around 9:15 p.m., PNE said in a statement.
The other thousand remained on site and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in destruction, according to organizers.
Videos posted to social media show concert-goers tearing down a drinks tent and tossing waste bins. The Vancouver Police Department said several hundred people also broke into fights, knocked down and threw tables and refrigerators, and climbed fixtures such as a lamp post.
Areas of the surrounding neighbourhood also sustained damage, according to VPD.
This city was due for a riot. pic.twitter.com/FEqvAybKDJ— ryan (@schaaptop) September 19, 2022
Officers were already on scene for regular security purposes before the rioting started, but dozens of extra ones were called in when things began to escalate.
Some officers had bottles and other objects thrown at them, Const. Tania Visintin said in a statement. The department arrested seven people for breach of the peace and has launched a criminal investigation.
“We will conduct a full and thorough investigation into the actions of anyone who destroyed property, put concert-goers in danger, or committed other criminal acts,” Visintin said. “Though this investigation will take time, we will pursue criminal charges against people who participated in this violence and destruction.”
The reason Lil Baby never took the stage, according to Breakout Festival’s Twitter, was because he suddenly felt ill.
“Lil Baby arrived to Breakout Festival and was unfortunately too sick to perform. We know you were looking forward to seeing him but these circumstances are beyond our control,” reads the festival’s tweet.
On Monday, the hip hop and rap artist – whose non-stage name is Dominique Armani Jones – issued an apology on his Instagram. He said he has been “going hard” for the last few months and his body “completely shut down.”
“I truly apologize (to) Vancouver, Canada, the BreakOut Festival and to everyone who was in attendance,” he wrote. “I owe you guys big time and will for sure make up for it soon.”
The PNE organizers issued their own statement Monday, saying they are focused on the state of their staff and venue neighbours.
“Today, our first priority is for the safety and well-being of our staff as many were deeply affected by the reaction of guests and behaviour that ensued,” organizers said in a statement.
“To our neighbours – the PNE is incredibly sorry for the actions of those guests and impact this behaviour may have had on our community. We will be undertaking a full investigation and will be making further statements shortly.”
They added in a later statement that they are working with the festival’s promoter Timbre Events and their insurance provider to cover the repair of all damage within the PNE site and the surrounding community.
VPD said its investigation will likely take several months.