I’m going to skip the formalities and start this off by telling you that this won’t be your typical post-festival update.
I didn’t take any pictures, record any videos, and my memory of certain sets might be a little hazy. But this was my WayHome experience.
This is going to be a completely subjective look at the highs and lows of WayHome 2017 from a music festival first timer.
So if you’re looking for a barometer of what you can expect from your first music festival, or just want to laugh at the experiences of a newbie, you’ve come to the right place.
Here are the highs and lows of WayHome 2017, in my completely professional opinion.
High – The Music
Let’s start it off with a high.
It was a music festival, so the first thing I have to do is give a shout-out to the music.
Sure the lineup wasn’t the best (we’ll get to that). But there were still some absolutely phenomenal shows.
Starting with Friday, the Foster the People and Cage the Elephant shows were great. It’s a shame you couldn’t see both in their entirety, but I was able to catch the entire FTP show and still make it back for a good portion of Cage.
The former was as fun as I expected and the latter was absolutely electric.
(For more on that Cage the Elephant show, check out Jessica Young’s story here.)
Now, Friday was unfortunately a bit of a rough day for me. I didn’t get the best sleep Wednesday night and the Thursday festivities just added to my exhaustion. So I didn’t actually see anything after that Cage show.
Yes, it’s now becoming increasingly clear that I was indeed a festival rookie.
But despite my 10:30 bedtime Friday night, I can still offer some insight on the rest of the sets. Thankfully, my friends assured me that the Flume and Danny Brown shows were ridiculously fun, and some even went as far as to say that Flume might have had the best set of the entire festival.
— Exclaim! (@exclaimdotca) July 29, 2017
Moving into the Saturday, I was refreshed and ready to go. And I was not disappointed.
Schoolboy Q was one of the real highlights and maybe my favourite set of the entire festival. He played every banger in his catalogue and even hit the crowd with Kendrick Lamar’s “m.A.A.d city”.
After Q, it was time for Vance Joy. His show was a genuinely nice time and exactly what I needed after completely raging for the entire hour before.
And then smack dab in the middle of the sunset was Imagine Dragons. They were also good, yet slightly underwhelming. I don’t know if it’s fair to label their show that way, but I was definitely expecting more.
Felt the thunder • @Imaginedragons x WayHome //
The second real highlight of Saturday and perhaps the best show of the entire weekend was the Marshmello set. Oh my goodness, what an absolute slobberknocker. The mix this guy played was ridiculous. He went from Papa Roach to Cascada, and he closed with “Hello” by Adele. It was the perfect way to end Saturday night.
And finally, we move into Sunday. I really wasn’t able to see many shows on Sunday because of a certain merch tent (again, we’ll get to that), but the sets I did catch were good enough.
I tried to switch it up a bit Sunday night, and despite not being an EDM fan, went with Porter Robinson over Tegan and Sara.
The only thing I can really say about that Porter Robinson show was that it was heavy. I’m pretty sure this man dislocated my spine with one of his beat drops. Luckily, I picked myself back up for the weekend’s grand finale, Frank Ocean.
The Frank show was easily the most polarizing of the weekend. It seemed as though half of the crowd were probably at WayHome only to see Frank Ocean, while the other half were there to see what the big deal was about.
If you were in that second group, you probably left after around 30 minutes. It was raw and a bit messy, but it was Frank. And as someone who’s been a fan for over five years, I loved it.
— Exclaim! (@exclaimdotca) July 31, 2017
Sure, he forgot some of the words to his own songs and had to restart them, but he gave us Frank Ocean fans what we had been yearning for.
Overall, it was a perfect way to end the festival and left me feeling satisfied with the music I was able to see throughout the entire weekend.
You'll have this place to call home, always • Frank Ocean x WayHome //
Low – The Music
But, and that’s a big but, this year’s lineup was weak. There’s no tiptoeing around it.
And the organizers can say they wanted to go for a more eclectic selection of bands and artists, but it’s pretty clear that they just didn’t have the money for the high profile acts.
The only evidence you really need is to look at the lineups of the first two years, and compare them to 2017.
The real problem was that the festival lacked depth. As you can tell from the music “highs”, the earliest shows I caught were around 6:00 p.m.
And yeah, maybe that says more about me than the lineup. But I would argue that there were a lot of people in a similar position.
Now, I can’t personally attest to this, since I was a festival rookie and all. But from what I’ve been told, the first two years of WayHome were filled with incredible afternoon shows accompanied by red hot crowds.
I went to the Dashboard Confessional show Friday at 6:00, and the crowd was beyond dead. It was actually pretty depressing to see.
There have already been rumours swirling that there will be no WayHome 2018.
(Check out Jessica Young’s article here for more).
Adding fuel to the fire was the fact that there was no “Save The Date!” after the final show Sunday night. And to be honest, it would make sense if they didn’t have a festival in 2018, especially for those who saw the situation this year.
There were times over the weekend when entire sections of campgrounds were empty.
And for even more context, let’s just put it this way — the outhouses were actually pretty clean. That should tell you all you need to know about how many people were running around Burl’s Creek last weekend.
High – The Staff
Speaking of those “clean” outhouses, I do have to give a quick shout-out to the WayHome staff.
They cleaned the showers and other accommodations on a regular basis, and made it feel as far away from a camping trip as possible.
And beyond operating the amenities, the staff was always welcoming and friendly to all those attending the festival, barring that one bartender on Sunday night. But I can only assume she was hating her life by that point, after dealing with drunk hooligans all weekend.
One of my more fond memories with the WayHome staff was when a very chill security guard opened up a hole in the gate and let my group of friends skip the line as we made our way to the Schoolboy Q show. And sure, maybe it only saved us around two minutes, but it was beyond clutch at the time.
It’s often the case that the people around you help make an experience positive, and that was certainly the case here. Sure, the WayHomies played a big role in making my first festival a success, but the staff also deserve a lot of credit.
Low – The Camping
Ah, the camping. I’ll try to keep this brief and won’t go too far down this rabbit hole. I know I could rant about camping for a long time and probably offend a lot of people who love sleeping outside, but that won’t change the fact that any of the following events still happened.
Let’s get one thing straight. I am not a camper, nor will I ever be a camper. I would say I envy those who are comfortable camping, but I don’t.
A lot of people told me before WayHome that camping at a music festival wasn’t the same as traditional camping. And I’m still not entirely sure if that was meant to warn me that it would be worse, or convince me that it would be better.
But at the end of the day, I’m not built for that life. There’s country mice, and there’s city mice. I am a city mouse.
So yes, the camping was terrible. It’s not until you sleep outside that you realize the level of temperature change between 6:00-8:00 a.m. One second, it was freezing, and the next I was crawling out of my sleeping bag to find any sort of relief from the scorching heat.
The only saving grace was that, thankfully, it didn’t rain on us.
High – The Weather
Thank you Mother Nature.
We really couldn’t have asked for better weather. The only day when it wasn’t completely sunny was Friday. And even then, it was still pretty nice outside.
Saturday and Sunday were both absolutely perfect, even if the latter was spent waiting in line at a certain merch tent…
Low – The Frank Ocean Merch Tent
What’s the longest you’ve ever waited in line for something? Maybe if you’re a real shopaholic, you’ve spent a few hours camped outside your favourite store before Boxing Day or Black Friday.
The thing is, you always knew how long you would spend in that line. That wasn’t the case for the Frank Ocean merchandise tent. Let me give you a little breakdown of how things went.
It’s 11:30 a.m. and my friend tells me there’s going to be a Frank Ocean merch tent up at 1:00 p.m. when the gates open. So we threw on some fresh fits and prepared to wade into a herd of hypebeasts.
The clock (a.k.a my phone) struck 1:00 and we headed into the festival grounds for some sweet sweet Frank Ocean merch. We stepped into a line of maybe 200 people at 1:15 p.m. And everything was going smoothly up to this point. We figured we’d be waiting an hour, maybe two at the very most.
And then everything devolved.
People were cutting the front of the line and joining their friends at an absolutely rapid rate. One hour passed and we had barely moved. We were closing in on hour number two when we decided we would each go and grab some food, hopefully for what would be one final hour.
(You’re probably wondering why we thought it would only take one more hour if it had taken almost two to barely move. We assumed that they actually just opened the tent later than expected and it would start moving more smoothly.)
It was hour number three when we realized why the line was actually moving so slowly. The merch tent consisted of two individuals taking every order, and one other person silk-screening each individual shirt, per order.
That’s right. They were giving every single person in line the opportunity to design their own t-shirt, based on an assortment of designs and colours, and then would screen the shirts on site.
Now, this is a super cool idea in theory. But it was a colossal failure in practice, especially with how many people were in line and how few people were actually working the tent.
The kicker? There was a limit of one shirt per person.
TL;DR — We waited in line for a total of SIX hours, for a single t-shirt.
Would I do it again? Probably not. Is it absolutely worth it now, and do I have a sense of achievement each time I look at my glorious shirt? 100 per cent yes.
So I guess this is considered a “low”, since I did wait in a line under the fiery sun for six hours. But in the end, it’s one of the most memorable moments of the entire festival. And I did get to work on my tan.
High – The WayHomies
And finally, we finish the way we began.
The lineup may not have been the best. The crowd may have been smaller than previous years. And I may have spent six hours in a line on Sunday. But the WayHomies made it all worth it.
First of all, I was lucky enough to head to WayHome with some great friends. But we also had the privilege of meeting some really cool people in the process.
A group of around ten people from our hometown, a handful of Americans, and one wild Welshman made for a deep squad.
And some singing, dancing, endless laughter, and three nights of barely any sleep later — I would say my first music festival was a resounding success.