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Canadian Musician @ WayHome Music & Arts Festival 2017, Day 1

Thursday, August 10th, 2017
Cage the Elephant at WayHome 2017 by Mark Matusoff

Cage the Elephant at WayHome 2017 by Mark Matusoff

Canadian Musician‘s Samantha Everts & Mark Matusoff were on the ground for the 2017 edition of the WayHome Music & Arts festival, and we’ve got some extensive photo libraries and set reviews from all three days. Here’s the rundown for Day 1:

WayHome descended upon Oro-Medonte, ON, from July 28-30 and despite a great three days of music with a diverse lineup, the crowd for this year’s edition of the three-year old festival was thinner than expected. From 40,000 last year to some estimates of 15,000, festivalgoers were nonetheless joyous as the sun was bright for the mostly EDM-indie-alternative lineup of 70 artists spread across three stages.

Setting the bar incredibly high, 2016 saw LCD Soundsystem, Arcade Fire, and The Killers headlining after the inaugural edition in 2015 hosted Kendrick Lamar, Alt J, and Modest Mouse . It may be that WayHome is a victim of its own hype… or just the oversaturation of the summer festival market.

Regardless, less people meant less lines, cleaner facilities, and a decidedly more chill-atmosphere. It was obvious by the third day that the crowd was tired as many sought a shady place to sit to watch the bands.

Picture This

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The first band we caught was Ireland’s Picture This. A young indie-rock band, their accents were cute and drew a crowd but were undistinguishable from the rest of the indie-radio competitors.

The Naked and the Famous

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The Naked And the Famous were one of the most scheduled artists of the weekend according to the WayHome app. With frontwoman Alisa Xayalith in a sparkly sequined green sweater and infectious ability to get the crowd dancing, people were happily singing along loudly to their hits, “Punching in a Dream,” “Hearts Like Ours,” and “Young Blood.”

Constantines

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When it comes to iconic Canadian rock bands of the 2000s, Constantines were one of the older acts with the largest discography to graze the green fields of WayHome. It was bizarre to see them not headlining a festival, like Arboretum in 2014, or quite simply, in the dark. It was also surprising to see not many people singing or even nodding along as if they knew the songs – these were the songs of my university years! Feeling nostalgic, this writer definitely belted out “Working Full Time,” “Young Lions,” “Soon Enough,” “Nighttime/Anytime,” “Hotline Operator,” “Draw Us Lines,” and enjoyed the new cut they played. (Even more proof in the pudding, when this writer went to cross-reference with mysetlist.fm, there were NO entries for this gig. Where were the die-hard Constantines fans they always seem surrounded with!?)

Foster the People

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This was my second time seeing Foster the People, the first being at Osheaga where the frontman rocked out to Band of Horses in front of me later on that night (kudos to having great taste!). The crowd quickly swelled to watch the indie-pop-dance group and sing along to hits like “Pumped Up Kicks,” “Helena Beat,” “Coming of Age,” and their new single, “Doing It For The Money.” Watching them tear through so many familiar songs, it hadn’t donned on me just how many successful singles they’ve had. Literally, Foster the People’s set provided the perfect soundtrack to a summer festival.

I had always thought “Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls)” was a Mother Mother song, so was pleasantly surprised when they kicked into it and had even the photographers dancing like crazy. Another fun surprise: a cover of The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop!“

Cage the Elephant

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This was yet another example of a band whose Grammy-winning discography is extensive, with songs heard everywhere (currently an Acura car commercial). The first time I saw this group was in the UK at a festival in 2008 and I had been disappointed with their live show, mostly because in hindsight I had missed Florence and the Machine play an intimate club show. The frontman had seemed bratty and a mess but fast-forward to WayHome and WOW. This man possessed the swagger of both Mick Jagger AND Iggy Pop, twisting and winding all over the stage, pulling faces, jumping high, swinging the mic almost violently… just a madman of a singer. Our photographer knew he was in for a good show when the photo waiver he signed said he would not sue if he got kicked in the head when the members dove into the stage. .

A late addition to the festival, Cage the Elephant likely sold a good amount of tickets, as people were obviously excited for their set. With crowdsurfers flying through the air the whole time to songs like, “Ain’t No Cure for the Wicked,” “Trouble,” “Mess Around,” “Shake Me Down,” “Come a Little Closer,” and “Cold Cold Cold,” – Cage the Elephant was THE band no headliner could top at WayHome. (OK, maybe Jazz Cartier, but more on that later.)

Justice

The French electronic dance duo brought big lights, smoke, and bigger cheers to the WayBright stage to close out the first day. It got unexpectedly cold for the mostly crop-top adorned, short-shorts wearing crowd, but the duo was determined to heat things up by opening with an extended funk-disco version of “Safe and Sound,” followed by a large selection of tracks off Cross. I headed back to my tent for a sweater with the intent to return for the remainder of the set, though the music was so clear from the nearby stage that I just curled under the covers and let the funky beats lull me to sleep. That’s festival living.

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