The first WayHome Music and Arts Festival is already being hailed as an instant success. BlogTO proudly stated that WayHome had officially staked its claim in the ever-expanding world of North American music festivals, and that it would no longer be doomed to such lack-luster titles as “Bonaroo of the north.”It’s true that the brand-new festival, which ran from July 25-27 in Oro-Medonte, ran its course with surprising smoothness. Yet there is always room for improvement and a young festival is certain to experience some growing pains.With this in mind, here is our WayHome report card: the good, the bad, and an ultimate verdict on whether you should be buying your tickets for 2016.Pass: less money on your mindAs a camping festival, WayHome offers significant opportunities to save your cash. For those in the GTA, airfare and hotel costs can easily be side-steppedsidestepped. Additionally, if you’re willing to plan ahead and pack your own food and booze, you can avoid the wallet-gauging costs of the on-site festival offerings.Fail: still a lot of moneyIt is not as though the couple hundred dollars required to go to any festival is pocket change. WayHome is out of the price range of many, and the crowd last weekend certainly reflected that — if the number of iPhones waving in the air were any indication.Pass: variety, the spice of lifeThe festival did a surprisingly good job of getting amazing acts from all across the musical spectrum. From Neil Young’s three-hour set on Friday night to Kendrick’s life-changing Saturday show, as well as several late-night EDM offerings. WayHome really did manage to offer something for everyone.
Fail: in this respect there was noneThe variety was perfect; nothing to complain about here.Pass: positive social agendaA lot of the performers took the time to highlight important social issues. Neil Young stayed away from his hits, opting instead to play the majority of his set from his environmentally-focused new album, and Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” took on chilling significance when considering the state of race relations in North America and the recent #blacklivesmatter protests.Fail: corporatizationWhile I’m sure my parents weren’t the only ones making snarky comments about how I was headed to “Ontario’s Woodstock,” WayHome was far from a social justice, capitalism-free, music utopia. Anything and everything had a sponsor’s name slapped on it, and there were more stations to charge smartphones then there were stations for water. The corporatization was probably inevitable in getting such a large festival off the ground, but it was still an unfortunate reality.Pass: Hierarchy of needsDespite having over 35,000 reported attendees, WayHome provided enough water, shelter and — perhaps most importantly — portable washrooms to ensure that everyone was appropriately looked after during the three-day festival.
Fail: DirtEverywhere. On everyone. All the time. Only time will tell how much of my tan is from the sun or from lingering festival grime.Pass: Making friendsThe camping set-up of the festival made navigating new friends and festival-buddies ridiculously easy (although finding the tent of said new friends once you’d wandered away was another matter entirely).Fail: Having to call your new friends “Wayhomies” Perhaps this term was inevitable, but it doesn’t make it any less cringe-worthy.Cumulative grade: If musical festivals are your jam, and you live within driving distance of Oro-Medonte, WayHome should make your 2016 calendar.