The excitement started as soon as signs for “Line 7” showed up on the highway. Security guards directed the cars through a friendly and fast security check. Once inside, cars were guided swiftly to the campsites, where 40,000 campers were expected. As the tents were going up, neighbours were already chatting, while cheers erupted from various locations, with more and more people joining the anthems of passion and frenzy.
Since the grounds were so large, lots of walking was needed. Soft grass made for easy strolls, but the gravel roads offered unexpected sharp rocks. Not just a music and arts festival, WayHome made sure we get a good workout, too.
The festival enclosure was an enormous field, with mighty flags and stages that were far apart and thus ensured loud music could be enjoyed at each one, without any sound overlap. Crowds were gathered by each stage but further away, festival goers were lounging in the grass for a more relaxing way to soak up the tunes and the sun.
Gaslight Anthem started their set with a few mellow tunes, so that people could cool off but then they picked up the tempo, encouraging the crowd to yell out the name of their next song “Take Your Pants Off!” The relatively small crowd was going wild and crowd surfing happened before the sun even started to think about setting.
Irish rocker Hozier drew one of the largest crowds of the day at the main stage. He’s come a long way from his humble roots and had the crowd captivated.
There were plenty of bars and tempting food trucks but they were all far apart, so there was probably less drinking and more dieting among the lazy campers, like me. The only downside was that there never seemed to be enough port-a-potties and they were not well spread.
Clear skies and the bright hot sun provided the ideal weather for the first day of WayHome and the smell of sunscreen added to the celebratory vacation feel.
Hey Rosetta! played a fantastic and engaging set with the crowd singing along to almost every song. The evening hours brought relief from the heat but the covered area in front of the WayBold stage was as hot as the day, due to the jumping of excited fans. Although their music can be mellow and soft, they played upbeat tunes this time and even surprised us with covers such as “Stand By Me”, and even “Teenage Wasteland.” The latter was played as an encore, since fans did not stop chanting “one more song” until they came back. Talking to some of the fans, it was agreed that this had been an excellent show.
A bit disappointed that it ended, I made my way to the WayBright stage, just in time to catch ALT-J’s last song, “Breezeblocks”. Everyone was dancing or twirling, laughing and talking to strangers. The thrilling atmosphere united us.
Later, the crowd split in two, with half the people making their way to the WayHome stage to enjoy Neil Young’s 3 hour performance, while the other half retreated to their campsites for more a more relaxed way of enjoying Mr. Young’s music, which seemed to fill the air.