Wayhome 2017 might possibly be the highlight of the summer when it comes to music festivals – it definitely was for me and I have yet to hear any complaints.
The weather forecast promised a glorious weekend – and Mother nature , nor the artists didn’t disappoint. With an amazing lineup featuring Flume, Cage the Elephant, Foster the People, the Shins, Solange, Imagine Dragons, Tegan and Sara, Banks, and let us not forget the king of soulful confessions Frank Ocean – how could you fail to have anything but an absolutely fabulous weekend.
The venue, set just outside of Barrie in Oro-Medonte, Ontario – Burls Creek is the perfect host for nature lovers and festival junkies alike. Even if camping isn’t exactly your thing; an experience like this is hard to miss – and I’m not much of camper if Im being perfectly honest.
Friday morning, I awoke to a light breeze and a few neighbouring conversations from fellow camp mates and was immediately immersed into festival mode. Its very difficult to not appreciate nature at its best when the sun is fresh from rising and the energy of the people are growing with it. All I wanted to do is was grab a coffee and take myself for a little trip around the grounds.
As expected, everything was a touch more expensive than what you would normally pay for – but there was such an abundance of places to choose to eat and drink from, catering to even vegetarians and vegans that you really couldn’t go wrong. And if you really want to save a buck or two, there was always the option of buying some groceries and storing them into a cooler. Drinks weren’t exactly kind to the wallet either, but with a huge event like WayHome – a cluster of incredible talent and an experience to remember, I think anyone could afford to go a little nuts if they chose to.
But lets get to the music part, shall we?
Artists began performances around 2pm – but the headlining acts didn’t commence until around 7pm – Phantogram, the Shins and Foster the People kicked off the evening with some killer shows including The Shins who performed the crowd pleaser (and possibly one of my favourite chill out tunes, “ New Slang” and they couldn’t have done it better live. Their vocals cooed a sweet softness, never breaking a beat. Effortlessly perfect; I knew the rest of the night was only going to get better. I mean, come on, Flume was headlining, there really was no room for disappointment.
Foster the People killed it too with the electronic inspired “Houdini” and iconic “Pumped Up Kicks” – hearing the artists performing with an all intensive energy, literally gave me goosebumps. But Friday night just wouldn’t be complete without Flume – who riveted the crowd with his roller coaster bass driven beats. The Aussie producer put on a stellar show no doubt – there is nothing like hearing “You and I” or the latest hit single released, “Hyperreal” come to life on stage with thousands of people dropping up and down as if summoned by the music itself. When the 90 minute set ended, I walked away feeling like I was Cloud 9 – there were still two days left and the best was yet to come!
The sun beat down harder and there was no rain in sight, which if you live in the GTA or anywhere in Southern Ontario for that matter, is a rare occurrence this Summer. Yet, mother nature took a break from burdening us with her moodiness and I, along with most people got to feel the heat. Giddy and glowing from a tan (sometimes a tad dewy from sweating) the anticipation for the evening grew thick with excitement. Solange exceeded expectations of course and proved she is no longer in competition with her big sister Beyonce, as she was and is in a league of her own. Her latest album, “A Seat at the Table” was performed in a way that was both powerful and indescribably beautiful. Solange knows how to control her voice, delivering snippets of her incredible vocals, while still telling a story and commanding attention in the most subtle way. While she experienced difficulty with drums, she managed to divert the attention onto herself, which is the true anatomy of an artist, in my humblest of opinions.
The pace of energy soon after switched to a dominating and emotion-stirring act some of you might be familiar with, Imagine Dragons. The artists are truly genuine in their humility but the rock band preferably known for their thunderous presence in their music, is a force to be reckoned with. I could not decide how to feel, but I remember finding a space for myself somewhere on the hill and feeling the ground tremble beneath me. “Radioactive” still remains one of my top Imagine songs, compelling yet forceful in the way it stirs and scratches the soul – at one point tears were dropping from my eyes and I cared not one bit. If music isn’t supposed to move us in this sort of way, I don’t know what purpose it serves.
THE LAST DAY. Bitter sweet day 3 saved some of the best. The lineup didn’t dwindle and continued to thrive well past 5 pm. Banks, in other words probably one of the most ground breaking female artists in the Indie genre, stole the show. She does not need to ask for attention – she demands it and she does it seamlessly. She provided one of the best performances I have seen in a very long time – with back up dancers dressed in blood red costumes, Banks knows how to cast a spell. Opening with “Poltergeist” – a haunting track filled with hints of R&B and bit of witchy vocals very typical of the sultry 28 year old – I was well under way to hypnosis before she even entered on stage. Like a serpent dancing to a hypnotic flute – Banks does similarly with her own music the way she loses herself. And she was perfect to pave the way for Frank Ocean, who performed soon after sharing with his audience, which Id like to call a true musical confessional.
Better known for doing few live shows, Frank Ocean is one of those artists not to be missed live in concert. For an hour and a half – I felt his pain, the intimate corners of his mind, as he powered through his “Blonde” album, as well as “Channel Orange”. He was the perfect finale to a perfect weekend. With so many talented artists, it was hard to face reality and drive back to the city when so many emotions had been evoked and so many things had been felt.
Thank you Republic Live!