July 28, 2016 – WayHome Music & Arts Festival has come and gone, but the memories of freedom and bliss during the three-day bash still make us smile as we settle back at work. In its only second year, WayHome has become the ideal getaway for the summer, located 90 minutes north of Toronto at Burl’s Creek Event Grounds under the Oro-Medonte sun. WayHome is produced by Republic Live and AC Entertainment, the same organizers behind US festival Bonnaroo.
As I stepped into WayHome and every way I turned I was reminded of what could be described as a miniature Coachella – ferris wheel, balloon skies, art sculptures, colorfully lit trees, famous food vendors, sun and music. Also the flags looked exactly like the flags flying at Bestival earlier this year. WayHome is still in its infancy, so it’s to be expected that they would take aspects of different festivals to make it the best they can be. It was everything I had hoped for!
Let me start by saying, I am not much of a camper. I can’t even fake it. The idea of us camping for WayHome scared most of my friends away, and the friends I ended up with were not particularly excited either. A lot of research went into showers, bathrooms, tents, mattresses and phone chargers. What do we pack? How do we clean ourselves? Where do we do our make up? All questions that we discussed to make sure we were as prepared as we could be for the three-day festival. As soon as we drove up to the entrance of the campgrounds to get inspected, we were embarrassed by the overloaded trunk. Other than the table stand-up mirror that was confiscated, we passed with flying colors.
We followed the line of cars to slowly fill up the campgrounds lane by lane, and ended up being the last car in the lane backing the porta potties. Not the ideal spot…but in the end we appreciated the convenience. Luckily they were cleaned frequently enough to not be a problem.
Next up, it was time to set up camp. We were so confident that the tent would be a breeze to put up. Let’s start by hammering the base with the pegs first we said…wrong. Then we put the first pole through the tent…wrong. Then we struggled for a while trying to figure out where the second pole went through. After watching us for half an hour failing to make progress, our neighbours came over and lent us a hand. Within 10 minutes the tent was up and ready to go. Shout out to them!
In the end camping was not AS BAD as we thought, but we definitely could have been more prepared. The worst part was going to bed at 3:00am and waking up around 6:00am from the heat slowly suffocating us in the tent. We also realized we need to buy a tarp next year, so we have a place to sit under in our foldable chairs during the day. We ended up taking the rain fly (a term we learned while reading and re-reading the tent instructions) off the tent and tying it to the hood of the truck to make a makeshift tarp. Hey, give us credit for DIY! I even heard our neighbours give us a nod of approval.
As far as cleaning, we would baby wipe the sand off our bodies at night before bed, and use the portable shower bag we brought to wash our face and brush our teeth. In the morning, we would walk to the shower trucks for our $9.75 shower. Tip – if you want to go to the bathroom in the morning wake up EARLY, because the line-up starts early and lasts a long time. Finally, I apologize to the environment for starting the engine so we could do our make up in air-conditioning.
Definitely put some time into research on Pinterest and Instagram for fashion trends just like last year for Coachella. For footwear, bring casual sneakers, booties, and sandals. You will end up just wearing sneakers every day because booties are too hot and sandals…well they’re sandals at a festival. For evenings, grab a kimono. No headgear or flower crowns, but put a lot of thought into your hair.
And then there is the lineup. With headliners LCD Soundsystem, Canadian talent Arcade Fire and The Killers, the festival drew in 40,000 people this year. Here are the list of artists I had the pleasure of enjoying. PS. I love lyrics…
“You’re working so hard. You played your card. So what’s the payoff?”
Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats
“I needed to fall, I needed your love, I’m burning away, I need never get old”
“Show me the foothold from which I can climb. Yeah, when I feel low, you show me a signpost for where I should go”
I can’t say I know many of their songs, but being a headliner at multiple festivals this year we had to check them out. Dancing with thousands of new friends to classics “Dance Yrself Clean” and “All My Friends” was worth it.
Matt and Kim
The best show of the day! They were so funny and so energetic! On top of their songs, they would play hits like Rihanna’s Umbrella to get the crowd hyped. It felt like we were at a crazy college hormone driven house party, and everyone loved it. Just looking at this picture with blow up dolls and you can imagine what happened at the show.
“And I can feel it in my bones, every time I think of home”
I have to be honest, they were the main reason I wanted to go to WayHome this year. They are my favourite band, ever since seeing them years ago as the opener to the opener of Imagine Dragons at Echo Beach. I wish I had the chance to sing (more like yell) one of my favourite songs Gorgeous, but their set was cut short. Those 20 minutes they were late to start the set, were the most painful minutes ever. The burning sun was not friendly to us. “You’re so gorgeous. Cause you make me feel gorgeous”
It was great to get the chance to experience the smallest stage WayAway. It was a chill vibe and it was nice to lay in the sun listening to those British boys. When they closed with ‘Shine A Light’ though, I had to get up and dance.
Their electronics are next level and so good. So good. How can not you love Midnight City.
The outpouring of Canadian love could be felt all around as they rocked the WayBright stage. The joy of singing their catchy as hell hits was a highlight. “You made a wish at 11: 11 I held your hips at 12: 34… I knew from the beginning. It was you from the beginning”
Where do I even start…it was possibly the most anticipated show of the festival, you could feel the excitement in the crowd. They put on a hell of a show and even used the spotlight as a platform to encourage progressiveness in the Canadian music scene: “I just wanna say that when we were first starting as band in Montreal, almost every band I knew was on a grant. The Canadian government doesn’t just need to give money to bands like us; they need to give it to smaller bands… because this is really fucking hard. So please consider it — it’s worth it,” said Win.
The confetti, followed by fireworks during ‘Wake Up’ to end the show was a spectacle and an experience you have to experience firsthand to understand why they are considered one of the biggest and best rock bands in the world!
It was a party from start to finish. Dancing so hard our bodies were sore and aching throughout Day 3. Remixes of Panda, One Dance, Work, This is What You Came For, Habits, Where Are Ü Now, the newly released Coldwater, Light It Up, Be Together, All My Love, Runaway (U & I), Powerful, and FINALLY Lean On to name a few! To everyone’s disappointment MØ didn’t join them on stage, even though she was set to perform the next day. To say the least flashing lights, smoke machines, fire flames, and confetti won the night.
Josephine and Anthony of London-based alt-pop duo Oh Wonder – this was their first ever festival performance and they were so honored that it was in Canada, even though they lost their luggage on their way here.
“Cause loving you, loving you is too hard. All I do, all I do is not enough.”
“And every time that you’re lonely, every time that you’re feeling low, you should know I’ll be there for you, I’ll be there for you.”
“And all I need is to be struck by your electric love. Baby, your electric love”
Remember when I said we were tired, sore and aching? Well it was a shame we had to skip his set to take a nap, but when we got a notification on our WayHome app about his pop up performance at Molson Canadian House we were excited to get a second opportunity to catch him up close and personal. He ended with his performance with his hit ‘Two Heads’ and stuck around to take pictures with each fan.
Honestly, other than Lean On we only knew one song, Final Song. But, her music is catchy and so easy to dance to that we had a blast. MØ danced around the stage, jumped into the crowed and was a great performer. Of course, just like Major Lazer, she ended the set with Lean On.
They started by asking “Are you ready to get f–king* LIT”. So I mean that explains it all. They rocked the crowd with their guitars, chic style, drumming skills and catchy songs. Even performing two new songs off their upcoming album, and teaching the crowd the lyrics.
Starting their set with Mr. Brightside was the best idea ever. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t be pumped after that song. Followed by Smile Like You Mean It, Are We Human, Somebody Told Me, mixing in a little Elvis Presley with Can’t Help Falling In Love, All These Things That I’ve Done, and closing the festival with Jenny Was a Friend of Mine. The only disappointment was that they didn’t have an ending like Arcade Fire, with fireworks and a big production even though they were they last act of WayHome 2016.
Food trucks, food trucks, food trucks! From Food Dudes to Chimney Stack, everything on the menu was delicious and worth the long wait. When I say a long wait, I mean a LONG wait. Try to avoid the popular eating times. We tried foods like mac-n-cheese balls, duck confit sandwich, duck or fish tacos, breakfast nachos and butter chicken naan nachos.
Walking around the grounds you stumble upon many vendor and radio tents, there to entertain and give giveaways. It’s time for me to give a few shout outs.
Somersby had the best building set up with a rooftop view of the whole festival and Muskoka chairs to relax in. They also gave us a circle wrap, which can be wore so many different ways. I saw people wearing them on their heads, wrists, necks, or around their bags. That was a great marketing product! Indie88 was also giving them out, but we never made it over there to collect them as souvenirs.
Virgin 99.9 offered a “Chill Zone” – a tent with comfy suede beanbags, phone chargers, and air-conditioning. On Day 3, we napped in there for close to two hours! We only wished the 2 of the 4 air-conditioning systems weren’t broken, because when we woke up the sun broke out of the clouds we are were sweating in there.
Vitamin Water had a truck that were giving away free bottles all day long. Unfortunately, the lines were always too long for us to want to join. The back of the truck had what looked like a car wash lane where the guys actually walked through to have a quick shower to cool off.
Finally, shout out to Perrier Greenhouse! The greenhouse was heaven, with drinks, DJs, seesaw equipped for selfies, beanbags and most importantly STRONG air-conditioning. The AC pipes were exposed and constantly blasting cool air. That was our spot, if we ever wanted to be INSTA-COOL! Yes, it was definitely an Instagram worthy spot, don’t forget #Blessed.
Before I go…
A few things to note, charging stations around the grounds like Coachella would have been nice, WayHome map and updates on the app were helpful, cash-less payments is the best upgrade the festival had compared to last year and cell service was surprisingly pretty good most of the time.
WayHomies, we need to spread the word! Canada does a damn good job bringing some of the best artists in the world together for a wonderful festival that mirrors staples like Coachella! Let everyone know to come find your way home with the rest of us next year.