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Photo by Jacqueline Howell

Wayhome Music and Arts Festival’s sophomore year vaulted into the big leagues of the world’s premiere music festivals. The 3-day line up was especially strong from end to end (with honorable mention to Darcys who did a preview performance on Thursday night for all of the early bird attendees). Scheduling conflicts were few and headliners were given slots which were conflict-free- a gesture of respect other local festivals could take a page from- and a practical measure which allowed groups of friends to regroup guided by their totems/ mascots.

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Photo by Jacqueline Howell

Step On Magazine will follow with separate features on our personal highlights of the festival with focused reviews of  Arcade Fire’s return to the stage, The Killers’ historic show closing set, Third Eye Blind’s welcome return to a big stage and Shad’s triumphant set in the always jumping Waybright stage / tent. Here is everything else we found at a camping ground in Oro Medonte this fine weekend. (Our massive gallery follows):

Arcade Fire has created a lasting foundation across four very diverse albums that are here to stay

Here at Wayhome, one of the first of 2016’s full band concerts in two years, Arcade Fire demonstrate the strength and versatility across those four albums. Funeral, Neon Bible (both iconic, both different) The Suburbs and Reflektor are all represented well and there is a flow among them. There is even (always?) room for fan favourite and band totem song “No Cars Go” from Arcade Fire’s first EP (known as Us Kids Know).  Passionate, eager fans who represented a significant chunk of Wayhomies came in droves, and they were represented by 50 year olds, 22 year olds, and all us kids in between. The demographics game has changed. Arcade Fire changed it, cutting right through music, genres, labels and norms, with a confidence it their own ideas and voices that set the stage for a new type of global success story.

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Arcade Fire in 2010, photograph by Dave MacIntyre

The music rocked. It also synth-ed. It danced. It spit rhymes. It came with fireworks. People were unusually happy with the main attraction of this weekend: the music in all its over 60 forms. 

Included in our gallery  below are Metric, AllieX, Third Eye Blind, Dilly Dally, Gary Clark Jr. Wolf Parade, Shad, A Tribe Called Red and more. Full reviews of Arcade Fire The Killers have also been posted. See all of our Wayhome coverage here.

Wayhomies’ appetite for totems reached a fever pitch this year (including an abundance of Justin Trudeaus)

Confusion for artists; distraction via JCVD in full side-splits mode (we suspect it was confiscated due to its outsized nature, campsite micro-navigation, good fun. Either broadly funny (Justin & Britney in denim for days) or private inside jokes held up to the world, and occasionally strange (a Home Hardware flag), everyone either had or could appreciate a good totem this year as we grew into some UK style celebration at long last, willing to fly our freak flags high.

Photo by Dave MacIntyre

Apps are not everything: phones are always dying and paper is king in an offline, real world experience

Last year’s one sheets with maps and all the set times by day which folded up so nicely were much missed and still needed.

Just like in the city, extreme heat days need responsiveness and practical solutions

With four solid days (many campers arriving on Thursday at gates, 3:00 p.m. to make camp and get settled) of relentless, extreme heat and strong sun, 24 hour showers would have been a big improvement. At $10 to shower there might have been a change made to allowe showers for relief at necessary times, convenient times, and times of heat exhaustion.

The game has changed: Wayhome 2016 cracked the code for stronger female led representation in the overwhelmingly male rock/music space 

Arcade Fire, Haim, Metric, Lucius, Dilly Dally, Stars, Oh Wonder, FKA Twigs, AlunaGeorge, Chvrches, Matt & Kim, LCD Soundsystem, AllieX, MO, these are a few bands featured this weekend that are female-led, or co-led, establishing Wayhome as a world away from the historic problem in music and festivals (debated strongly in reference to last year’s major US and UK festival bills) of the often stale “Guys with guitars” model of music at all levels. The feeling was mutual, as Stars’ Amy Millan commented from the stage how nice it was to see more women in the audience instead of the usual festival sausage fest.

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Stars Photo by Jacqueline Howell

The sky is not falling

Despite the default mode of the mainstream media establishment, the current boom in Toronto area festivals is a marvelous and long overdue development for culture, music, and our lives, and healthy competition is good for consumers. Where the once great Virgin Music Fest has departed our shores (we miss you) and Riot Fest cancelled this year’s Toronto installation, Hillside, Osheaga, Field Trip, Bestival and Wayhome among others continue to thrive, adapt and grow. Not without growing pains. But the ultimate success , failure and lifespan of a festival is always decided by ticket buyers’ level of satisfaction and recommendation to friends.

Our team’s Wayhome by the numbers

Happy/live music emotion mini cries: 2
Sad/heat exhaustion/sunstroke/sunburn mini cries:2
Dropped a nice pizza slice totally upside down impotent cries of rage: 1
Celebrities spotted: 1 (“Mike” from Suits, back again from last year – he’s Wayhome’s “Drake”.
Prince: I Would Die 4 U covers: 2 (Third Eye Blind, Haim)
Tragically Hip covers: 1 Arkells (Music at Work)
Elvis covers: 1 The Killers (Are you Lonesome Tonight?)
Best event sponsor: Vitamin Water dropping off early am bottles at campsites just when you need it most
Cartwheels: 3

Belly laughs: countless (many of them after the final curtain and we had one last campsite party with our group and our next-door neighbours from far-flung U.S. cities.)

(Shout to you guys you’d be good allies ina post-apocalyptic landscape, and you saw what we had for provisions and tools!)

Bandannas in heatwaves: priceless 

Words by Jacqueline Howell, Photo gallery by Dave MacIntyre & Jacqueline Howell

Read all of our Wayhome coverage here.

With thanks to Wayhome Music and Arts Festival and Republic Live.