"We're in a stadium, but I can probably hear each and every one of you," says Ra Ra Riot front man Wes Miles. "So if you have anything you want to say..."
That invitation rarely ends well. Some people standing near the back of the 50-person crowd in FC Dallas Stadium give heckling a shot, but get only as far as the words, "You're not as good" before balking at the heads turning in their direction. Miles is right -- you can hear quite a bit.
It would take maybe 20,000 people to really get the Stadium packed. There were never quite that many for this weekend's inaugural Breakaway Music Festival. But there was a healthy crowd, several thousand strong, there to cheer Crizzly and Empire of the Sun and Big Gigantic (and Wu-Tang Clan and Explosions in the Sky, but to a much smaller extent). The kids turned up in neon, showing off their belly buttons for the last time this summer.
They had a good time, of course. There were thoughtful festival amenities for that crowd -- a mechanical bull situated between a women's bathroom and a snack food stand. And a silent disco, which reached capacity by 4 p.m. and stayed that way for the rest of the night. Breakaway didn't use the entire field at FC Dallas Stadium the way Edgefest did earlier this year. Instead, there was a small stage up on the concourse. You might have missed it if you weren't walking right by, and that would have been a shame because North Texas' music was well represented there. We were a sponsor of that stage, I should let you know, so I'll leave the particular assessment of its bands to you -- feel free to check out Booty Fade, Dark Rooms, Yeahdef and Oil Boom and decide for yourself.
The rest of the bands all played on one enormous stage situated on the north end of the stadium. The PA hung high over the field, pointing toward the open south entrance and straight down Coleman Boulevard, through the block-long alley of meticulous new urban brick development. The sound travelled easily down to the large municipal building ("Frisco, 2006" stamped into its facade) through the glass wall of the library on its first floor.
Inside, a woman checking out her books asked the clerk incredulously, "Is there a concert happening or something?" Back in the stadium, teen dubstep star Danny Avila worked his way up to a drop, and the clerk replied, "Music festival."
She took her books and walked through the revolving door of the municipal building out to the courtyard with its shiny bronze statues and bubbling fountain. "That. is. SO. loud." she said.
Two hours later, Juicy J would stand on that stage and lead the following call and response:
Juicy J: Say, "Heeeey, we want some puuuusssay!" Crowd: Heeeey, we want some puuusssay!"
"Heeey, we want some Mooollly!" Heeey, we want some Mooolly!"
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And so on. By that time the last of the stands at the farmer's market out by the municipal building were long gone, and Explosions in the Sky were waiting in the wings.
Juicy J got the crowd plenty riled up, but more with his new stuff than his old. Wu-Tang Clan didn't even bother with their most recent album, but no one missed it.
All Wu-Tang has to do to succeed live at this point is show up. They did that, mostly: No GZA or Method Man, but Cappadonna brought the number of on-stage MCs up to seven. RZA played the ringleader, the actual master of ceremonies. Raekwon sipped his tumblr of Hennessy. Ghostface played scene stealer with "Ice Cream," a filthy song that might as well be a Shakespearian Sonnet compared with Juicy J's material. Masta Killa's mic was a little low. They played the hits. They did "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" in honor of ODB. Best set of the day. On the opposite side of the field, the kids waited impatiently for a chance to get into the silent disco before Big Gigantic took the main stage. They'd all press close to the front for that.