The Best (and Worst) of Wayhome 2016

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In its sophomore year, Wayhome went big, with a strong roster, more emphasis on aesthetics and greater attendance. There is still room to grow as the festival continues to find its identity – improving its environmental footprint, for one – but to say the music delivered is to put it mildly. Below are some of our favorite moments from our weekend in Oro-Medonte, Ontario.

Best Shows

Arcade Fire

It’s almost unfair to compare Arcade Fire to undercard acts; they have economies of scale and an arsenal of anthems that are nearly impossible to compete with. Win Butler, Regine Chassagne and the rest of the army put on the weekend’s most memorable show, belting out a greatest hits set with their typical fury and passion. My personal favourites were “Keep the Car Running” and “The Suburbs”.

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Unknown Mortal Orchestra

It’s difficult to describe the transformation that Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s music undergoes live. One of their earliest hits, “How Can U Luv Me”, could have been a top 40 hit if it were recorded with high fidelity. Ruban Nielson and his band are incredibly talented musicians, and more importantly they’re incredible together. They might have been the tightest act of the weekend.

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Chvrches

Beyond Lauren Mayberry’s fantastic audience banter (namedrops for Pokemon Go and Stranger Things), Chvrches played every track you could have hoped for and much more. It’s been amazing to watch them grow on stage over the past three years.

Savages

The crowd was indecently modest for Savages’ late night set, but their music poured out like a torrent. If moshing is your thing, you missed out if you weren’t in the front row. Their set also included an excellent rendition of Suicide’s “Dream Baby Dream”.

LCD Soundsystem

“Shut up and play the hits!” somebody yelled after LCD’s opener “Us V. Them”. And so they did. It’s essentially the same set they’ve been playing all summer, but how can you deny “Someone Great” or “All My Friends” or “Daft Punk is Playing at My House”? James Murphy also offered updated lyrics on a handful of tracks, just in case you thought he was losing his edge.

Best Crowds

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Mac DeMarco

As a Canadian, Mac was bound to draw a good-sized crowd, but his performance this past weekend showed exactly why he quickly became a cult hero north of the border. The best stretch of the show was an extended interpolation of Steely Dan’s “Reelin’ in the Years”.

Arcade Fire

You know you’re killing it when even the sleeveless fratboys take a break from shotgunning and toasting to sing along to “Rebellion”.

Arkells

If you’re a millennial from Ontario, you love the Arkells. That’s just science. One of the biggest draws of the weekend, the Ontario natives delivered a dynamic, high-energy set to an adoring crowd.

Biggest Surprises

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Glass Animals

On the back of frontman Dave Bayley, Glass Animals put on one of the more entertaining shows of the weekend. I’d only listened to Glass Animals’ debut album a handful of times, but their rhythm-heavy set, complete with an idiosyncratic cover of Yeezy’s “Love Lockdown”, sold me. These guys are for real.

Marian Hill

We admittedly only caught the tail end of her set, but we were very impressed with what we saw, and nearly everyone I spoke to said the Philly electro-R&B/soul duo was one of their favourite shows of the weekend. Marian Hill play Osheaga this weekend; we’ll be there for the whole thing.

Biggest Disappointments

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Kurt Vile & the Violators

It’s probably more accurate to say that Kurt Vile gave me exactly what I was expecting, which was a chilled out set with little in the way of surprises. Even if he isn’t exactly rousing, his set was adequate.

The Last Shadow Puppets

It was around 2013 that Alex Turner, lead singer of my quintessential teenage band, Arctic Monkeys, began to descend into a rock and roll cliché – the very thing he mocked. With Miles Kane and the rest of his band dressed to the nines, Turner sported an oversized, untucked dress shirt, with a persona to match. It’s hard to tell if it’s genuine or theatre at this point; either way, it’s off-putting.

Stars

Stars’ music has always relied on teenage naivety for emotional resonance. Now that co-lead singers Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan are into their forties, it’s not quite as cute.

Best Individual Performances

FKA Twigs

For every bit she is a singer/songwriter, artist, dancer, FKA Twigs is a performer as well. Her late-night set was a bizarre blend of spectacle and eerie R&B. Numerous performers joined her on stage for elaborately choreographed dances, but it was impossible to take your eyes off the costumed Tahliah Barnett.

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MØ was a force on-stage. Backed by a sharp four-piece band, she was constantly moving, and seemed genuinely excited to be where she was. She even crowd-surfed mid-song without missing a beat.