Riot Erupts at Vancouver Music Festival After Headliner Lil Baby Cancels Performance

Riot Erupts at Vancouver Music Festival After Headliner Lil Baby Cancels Performance
A Vancouver Police Department patch is seen on an officer's uniform in downtown Vancouver on Jan. 9, 2021. (The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)
David Wagner

Chaos ensued after rapper Lil Baby, the headliner for a hip-hop concert at the PNE Amphitheatre in Vancouver, did not perform because he was sick.

According to a Vancouver Police Department (VPD) news release, fights broke out inside and outside the BreakOut Festival venue, and rioters started damaging property after it was announced that Lil Baby would not be performing.
“My body completely shut down,” Lil Baby said in an apology on Instagram. “I have been going so hard for the past few months without any breaks that it finally caught up with me.”

The VPD said that “garbage bins and food vendor kiosks were overturned and damaged during the chaos. Tables, refrigerators, and tents were knocked down and thrown. Several people climbed various fixtures including a tall lamp post.”

Seven people have been arrested for breach of the peace, and the VPD expects the criminal investigations will take months to complete.

“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,” said Constable Tania Visintin.

“Though this investigation will take time, we will pursue criminal charges against people who participated in this violence and destruction.”

The release also noted that the VPD response was reinforced with help from the Metro Vancouver Transit Police. There were no major injuries, but the riot caused thousands in property damage.

“Vancouver Police officers were already inside the venue and providing extra security when several hundred people began fighting and destroying property in the Amphitheatre, on the PNE grounds, and in the surrounding neighbourhood,” Visintin said.

“Dozens of extra officers were redeployed from other areas of the city to restore order, with some officers having bottles and other objects thrown at them.”

The BreakOut Festival Twitter account told customers to “stay tuned for information and details regarding partial refunds.” It also apologized to “everyone who peacefully left the venue,” as well as staff and residents in the neighbourhood.

“We do not condone violence or destruction of property and are utterly disappointed with the way some of our patrons acted at this years’ event,” it stated.

Concertgoers paid up to $350 for a ticket to the two-day event held at the Pacific National Exhibit (PNE) at Hastings Park.

“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,” said a statement from the PNE, which thanked the VPD for its “quick and professional” response.