THE BEST OF OUR FEST Highlights of the stuffed full of goodness Wayhome 2016 lineup included a strong roster of Canadian bands. It’s a great time for Canadian music with the expansion of our festival offerings, and a necessary source of lifeblood for fans and musicians alike. All of these bands rocked out and made our best of list, and defied the heat like true rock and rollers. Most of them in black / jeans, across genres, defying genres, putting in the time, building something lasting in a tough climate, and rocking us all out in different ways, all in one epic weekend north of Toronto. And new discoveries of the next wave of Alternative that we pray to Black Philip for every night.
Metric once played a free show for students at Frosh week at U of T on their early rise. This is a band that’s grown with us over the past decade, forming a soundtrack to our lives. They are of world-class caliber, deserving of a type of prestige, authority and glow reserved for bands and times of industry richness we think of as retro: U2, Coldplay, The Stones, Prince. Their frontwoman is a great musician and a rock star who makes stadiums swoon. They sing and rock about issues big and small, with a wry tongue in cheek and a keen human observation that ranks them among the most special type of bands. Their lyrics hold up to analysis (for those lit major types with that obsession/disease) or can be sung and flung into the wind with rock and roll abandon. They asked “after all of this is gone, who would you rather be? The Beatles or The Rolling Stones”. The question hangs there over all music, not just their music, over all creative life as we ponder art and commerce and meaning and legacy. They don’t say who they’d rather be as time is the only thing that will tell.
Alternative Hip hop artist (and for the past year, Q host) Shad is a self-made man who’s been in the game for a decade. We were lucky to have the insights into his back catalogue and his deep, deep meaning to superfans via a writer named Chris Dagonas who was with us in our early months and wrote “The Old Prince Grows Up. Shad Then and Right Now” last year for this magazine. This feature gave us insights and reference points that allowed us to walk into the always jumping scene that was the Waybold stage /tent and feel at home among thousands of Shad fans freaking out and using what little heat-wave zapped energy they reserved for this stellar show. Shad is our own Hip hop royalty. He is Canadian hip hop : Kenyan born, Ontario raised, bringing a background of English and French bilingualism and a learned air that lifts rhymes into elevated, educated poetry, and a worldly viewpoint that is flexible and agile. We needed more and will be in the next crowds for a solo Shad show.
A Tribe Called Red
A Tribe Called Red is a fantastic, very post-modern group of artists who mix influences and sounds of Hip hop, Reggae, moombahton, and dubstep influenced dance music with cues from First Nations music. As their profile has grown in recent years, one unifying description always follows: they are not to be missed. Their name is an obvious (and brilliant) nod to the iconic A Tribe Called Quest, a most worthy influence and an apt reference. From DJing to dancers that deliver more culture and beauty than a lifetime of stale textbooks that once erased First Nations from Canadian history, A Tribe Called Red has earned acclaim from the street and audiences and at the highest levels of Canadian music. They’ve also been vocal supporters of Idle No More and have been a voice against cultural appropriation (the most obvious being festival goers wearing headdresses and warpaint to shows and festivals as “fashion”) mixing important messages and cultural criticism without missing a relentless beat and creating a show that delivers an unforgettable time while moving Canada into the musical & cultural future – one that cannot be dominated by white voices but is finally growing diverse.
Wolf Parade’s bona fides are deep and subtly underplayed. We remember the band opening for Arcade Fire back in the mid 2000s just before AF moved into stadiums, and there is a deep Montreal connection & we think, friendship. (Here’s Arcade Fire covering Wolf Parade’s “I’ll Believe in Anything” on their Reflektor tour in 2014 in Montreal). Drummer Arlen Thompson played drums on Arcade Fire’s iconic Wake Up – a song that will define our age- that is almost all drums. On hiatus since 2011, the band is now back as of 2016, into a world that still needs them. As the pictures show – and let us bore you again with how bloody hot it was this Wayhome weekend- this band defies such environmental conditions and subscribes to the rule (that almost all musicians outside of Hip hop are bound by) that you dress in pants for the stage. They are dressed like damn gentlemen, causing passersby to stop in their tracks and marvel. Here are musicians cool enough in this heat to don a jacket AND TIE. This band has style. Back on the road for 2016 there are US dates available for August and September and, EP 4 is also now available for pre-order. Give this great band some love. (We feel we can state with confidence that they were the first of the 2000s bands with “Wolf” in their name, too.)
We are big fans of Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner’s side project Operators, which we’ve included in our New Music Radar feature.
Dilly Dally’s debut album, Sore, came out in October, and in a festival bill loaded with big names and “tiny font” names, they arrive at Wayhome with some significant buzz from discerning fans and media whose ears are always tuned to the reverb, the rattle, the grit and the clean burn of Alternative music (a word, and a music, that’s more ripe for a comeback than ever in the pop/pap/dross/corporate landscape of today. Alternative music fans feel it in our bones when there is a sign of life nearby, and move toward it like the vampires who operate on deep dark magic (and are never fucking sparkly!) to find ourselves at stages like this. YES. Dilly Dally has it, is it, and delivers what we’ve been waiting for. After Wayhome (and fresh off the Polaris Prize long list, and one of our picks here) Dilly Dally is off to be appreciated by UK & Europe, where the vampires were born and still rumble most glamorously at night. Let’s hope they let Dilly Dally come back to us so we can see them again in Toronto. Alternative music is just real music. Find it and embrace it and kick and break something, make some noise and wait for the McDonalds era of music to finally die off because it’s just junk. The video for Snakehead starts like this, we’re in love:
Words by Jacqueline Howell, Photos by Dave MacIntyre