This weekend I was lucky enough to be in attendance for WayHome Music & Arts Festival. I had never been to a festival before, always thinking them to be outrageous, sweaty, massive gatherings of people who would rather stand there and watch music through their phones then actually look up and experience what’s going on in front of them. There definitely were those kinds of people but they weren’t the majority. Buried in with 40,000 other people I didn’t think it would be all that possible to make friends or lasting connections but it was because we were brought together in this buzzing environment that consisted of bodies of all ages living next to one another and enjoying music for 3 days.
You willingly or unwillingly make connections with people and begin friendships that may only last the 3 days but sometimes longer. You meet people that make what you thought was already a great concert even better, simply by being as excited as you, dancing harder than you and loving the music you came for, almost, if not more than you. There is this mutual respect that everyone has for one another because we came for the music that evidently brings people together.
Unfortunately, there was a heat warning the first day I arrived and that definitely effected my enthusiasm for the shows I attended that day. Lying on a blanket in the shade at my campsite I felt nauseous, dizzy and couldn’t help but regret my decision after only a few hours. However, my neighbours, whom I had never met, raised me from the grave, helped me rejuvenate and get back out there for the Friday night CHVRCHES show.
The energy that came out of little Lauren Mayberry of the Scottish synth-pop band was infectious. Their live performance was pleasantly surprising and her back and forth banter with the crowd had everyone wrapped around her tiny fingers. For someone so small her strength poured through the determined look in her eyes and the voice projecting from her lungs, backed by Lain Cook and Martin Doherty, CHVRCHES put on an incredible show playing favourites like “Gun” and “The Mother We Share” as well as their new single “Bury It”.
Friday’s heatwave carried over into Saturday but with my body more equipped to handle the constant sweating and thirst it was a better day. The lineup was stacked with amazing acts like: Half Moon Run, Young Empires and Chet Faker but my favourite was without a doubt the Arkells.
Max Kerman put on one hell of the show that involved crowd surfing and an unbelievable cover of “Music at Work” in celebration of The Tragically Hip kicking off their tour in BC the night before. Encouraging our involvement for “Little Rain” (A Song for Pete) off their new album and closing the show with crowd favourite “Leather Jacket” they had the entire audience jumping around and singing as loud as they could to the words everyone knew. It’s always a surreal feeling when the audience overpowers the singer, the look on Max’s face was one of pure happiness and appreciation for his devoted fans.
Brandon Flowers donned a sparkly suit jacket that complemented the floating lit up balloons illuminating the night sky generating this magical atmosphere that was only made better by good company. Dancing and singing to the songs that paved our way through high-school, The Killers took us back with hits like: “Mr. Brightside,” “Somebody Told Me,” “Human,” “All These Things That I’ve Done,” and of course closing the show with “When We Were Young.” Hands were held and arms were draped around one another as we came together to absorb the mesmeric atmosphere where being a big Killers fan wasn’t really necessary. If you knew every single word or only a few it was the final concert of the 3-day festival that was about more than just music. It was about reminiscing on the old and celebrating the new with people you love or maybe just met.
I was slightly wary of the festival vibe upon arrival but after living it I can now say that I appreciate and understand it much better. This amalgamation of fellowship, acceptance and music turned out to be a hot and sweaty mess of musical recognition for artists of all different genres. Dates for WayHome 2017 have already been released and if you’re a bit nervous, like I was, about attending a music festival, WayHome is an immersive adventure that I would absolutely recommend for first-timers.
Photos 3 & 4 were taken by WayHome and the rest of the photos were taken by Benjamin Mitchell