by: Sasha Cresswell
WayHome2015 hit Ontario this past weekend and the lovely Sasha Creswell repped thenikkisin.com at the Summer festival, here’s her story:
I found my WayHome, and it was the most spectacular weekend I’ve had in years. Maybe even ever. This was the inaugural fest, and they pulled it off almost perfectly. I’m talking near Beyoncé levels of flawless. I went with my mom, who at 50 is still my main party companion. We arrived on Thursday night, and after a brief wait in line (25 or so minutes) and a car check, we were unpacking and setting up our campsite. We lucked out in regards to our neighbors; we were flanked by another mother-daughter duo who were there for the latter’s 16th birthday, and a young couple who were quiet but friendly (and saved our asses a couple times in regards to things we’d forgotten to pack.)
Friday was the first official day of the festival. My mom works in media, and she’d been told that we had backstage passes for the Thousand Foot Krutch show thanks to Pet a Rock Radio, which turned out to be untrue – they were actually VIP wristbands. No backstage access, but flush toilets, free showers, and special viewing areas, which was fine by us. Our first show of the day was Thousand Foot Krutch, a rock/rap metal band from my hometown of Peterborough, Ontario. Their show was amazingly high energy, especially considering how hot it was. We ate some lunch, then proceeded to the Hozier show. His beautiful vocals were second to none, his guitar playing left nothing to be desired, and I don’t think he ever stopped smiling once during the entire set. Next was alt-j, who have been one of my favorite bands for a few years. Their show was incredible. It was an hour and fifteen minutes of bliss; excellently produced synths, fabulous instrumentals, and unique vocals kept the entire crowd rapt. They played a couple of the hidden tracks off their debut album, An Awesome Wave, which was a great surprise. Last show of our night was Neil Young + Promise of The Real. Despite the girls who were Jersey Turnpiking and spilling their wine on me (yes, at a Neil Young show…) I had a total blast. Their set was nearly 3 hours, which was filled with amazingly blunt lyrics about Monsanto, the craziest guitar solos I’ve ever witnessed, a few classic tunes, and Neil throwing “natural, organic, delicious” cherries at the crowd.
Saturday was our laziest day by far. We didn’t get into the festival grounds until nearly 5 PM. We ate some dinner while listening to R&B singer SZA’s set. She has a gorgeous voice and her lyrics are extremely heartfelt. Everyone in the crowd seemed to be having a total blast. After we ate our food, we stumbled upon the hip-hop duo Run The Jewels playing on the main WayHome stage. I had never listened to them before, but they put on one hell of a show, and I can tell you that their fans are extremely dedicated. The crowd wasn’t huge, but it was loud with a capital L. Next up on the main stage was Modest Mouse, who I have loved since I heard their song Dashboard in 2007. They rocked out despite their singer Isaac struggling with serious throat issues that had him saying they would play until their set time ran out, or “I can’t make any more noise.” They played a nice variety of songs, covering songs from several of their albums, including the recent release, Strangers to Ourselves. Next up was the surprise guest on the WayBright stage. Passion Pit had been forced to cancel due to their singer Micheal’s ongoing issues with bronchitis and pneumonia, which I was super bummed about. But the surprise did more than make up for the cancellation: somehow, at the last minute, the festival has managed to get Broken Social Scene to perform. There is something beyond magical about their live show; the band is larger than life, featuring a horn section, multiple vocalists, and a variety of guitar players and percussionists. There are 25 members in the band, though this shows line up was slightly less daunting: only 8 musicians on stage during any given song. Their set ended with fireworks, and singer Kevin Drew saying that the band needed the show even more than the audience did. The final set of my night was Kendrick Lamar. I will be the first to admit that I’m not a fan of his music – but the man is talented. His rapping style is fast and in your face, he engages the audience and everyone around me seemed to be having the time of their lives. His show also ended in a fabulous firework display, which seemed fitting after such an explosive performance.
Sunday was a long, musically full day. We kicked off our day at 1:30 with Sloan.
The Canadian rockers never cease to amaze, playing a fabulous 45 minute long set featuring their hits and a couple lesser known songs. At 3 PM, we had The Sheepdogs. They’re a wonderfully solid band who play their instruments well, have energy is high, and who’s music translates extremely well in a festival setting. Our 3rd set of the day was July Talk. This Toronto band is one of the best bands I discovered in 2014; the juxtaposition between Peter’s raspy growl and Leah’s angelic vocals are one of the most interesting combinations I’ve heard in recent music. And their presence on stage is equally as interesting. Leah started out on the stage and made it through one song before ending up on a set of speakers in front of the stage, and finally, in the crowd, drinking whiskey straight from the bottle. It seems that Peter was right when he told us that Leah always has the most fun no matter where she goes. At this point, we took a break to cool down (it was nearing 36 degrees and we had been standing in the sun for a while) at the free water station and to grab some food from The Drake Hotel’s food stands. With my stomach as happy as my ears had been all weekend, we headed over to see the Killers frontman Brandon Flowers. He put on one hell of a show. With two solo albums under his belt, he played songs from both, along with 3 song from the Killers – including fan favorite, Mr. Brightside. I had goosebumps several times during his set, and Brandon looked like he was having the time of his life. Second last set of the evening was Vance Joy. The Aussie singer/songwriter has really proven himself in the last year as a solid performer (he’s currently on tour with Taylor Swift) and I was incredibly impressed by the fact that it was just him and his guitar on stage. He played most of his debut album, his anecdotes between songs were short and sweet, and he left quite a few girls around me swooning hard.
The last performance of the festival was Sam Smith. 2014 was the year of Sam, with him winning award after award, having numerous hit singles, and playing on the radio nonstop. I can now say without a doubt that his talent is unmatched, and he is deserving of all the accolades he’s received.
He played almost an hour and a half, playing almost all of his self titled album, covering Amy Winehouse’s Tears Dry On Their Own and Marvin Gaye’s Ain’t No Mountain beautifully, and doing some wonderful dancing. My favourite thing about the show was that he brought his backup singers front and center – making it a wonderful, shared experience instead of focusing solely on himself.
Overall, this festival was a great experience. All of the artists who I saw sounded amazing (usually, better than their recordings) and I heard nothing but good things about the other artists who’s sets I couldn’t make it to. The camping was wonderful, there were a huge variety of food options, the security were all friendly and helpful. WayHome will be July 22, 23, 24 next year and you can count on one thing: I’ll be there, having the time of my life.