The Welcome Back BBQ fulfilled all expectations — apart from an actual BBQ of course

After missing last year’s Block Party, I was looking forward to attending this year’s Welcome Back BBQ on September 16, which followed the same concept: a bass-pumping AMS-produced concert in the plaza outside the Nest, surrounded by a maze of chain link fences.

The BBQ was also pitched as the largest music festival in Western Canada. Although BC music fests Shambhala and FVDED in the Park might have a bone to pick with that claim, AMS Events has big dreams.

My spirits heightened as the gloomy clouds that day cleared up to make way for perfect concert weather, and I enthusiastically made my way towards the non-existent line to enter the festival at 4:40 PM.

My inexperience in attending UBC music festivals prevented me from knowing that 4:40 was too early a time to enter an event that started at 4 PM and was going to go on until 9:30 PM. My friends and I initially contended with empty spaces and four food trucks that did not seem inviting enough to us at the time.

The food truck menu included inventive mac and cheese, spicy tacos and nachos, the famous potato tornados and perhaps in an attempt to have the “BBQ” in Welcome Back BBQ make sense— a truck serving BBQ burgers. There was also a separate 19+ section serving seltzers and cocktails.

Artist Peak came and went without much fanfare as he crooned some of his songs for an absolutely dead crowd. Micky Weekes fared a little better as she came in next and performed heartbreak song, a staple of the night with many performers belting out songs on the theme (I guess summer romances aren't that realistic after all).

As the sun went down, the energy in the crowd increased and was soon palpable. Rapper Boslen got the attendees dancing to his music and even played the famous “Tonight We Are Young” by Janelle Monáe. While I did not always vibe to his songs, I enjoyed kicking around the beer cans that rolled towards my feet and letting myself be at the mercy of the crowd that pushed and shoved everyone around to the beats of the music.

Felix Cartal was next in the line up, a last minute addition in place of Fivio Foreign who could not make it to the event due to travel complications. This is not the first time a headliner has backed out of an AMS concert last minute — in 2019, Lil Nas X unexpectedly dropped, leaving students disappointed and un-refunded.

However, with his smashing beats and on-and-off interactions with the attendees, UBC alum Cartel did not let us miss Fivio Foreign too much. The crowd fell in love with the music by DJ trio Cheat Codes and French Montana, the two big acts of the night, and cellphones with their torches on lit up the event both literally and figuratively to cheer on the performers.

By the time Cheat Codes was halfway done with their performance, however, the pushing and shoving of the crowd was getting a bit much for me, as was having to witness random individuals aggressively make out to rap songs.

This coupled with my sudden craving for a tornado lead me to the massive line in front of the food truck, a line that was definitely worth the trouble given the absolute deliciousness of the treat.

All in all, the Welcome Back BBQ was a good, albeit exhausting time that had everything that was needed from the event, apart from an actual BBQ!