Concert Reviews

Arcade Fire, M83, Third Eye Blind, Major Lazer, & more Wayhome 2016 Day 2

Photos by Randall Vasquez & Sean Chin / Written by Mehek Seyid, Dakota Arsenault, & Andreas Babiolakis

Day 2 of Wayhome 2016 catered to everyones musical tastes. Here’s what we checked out:

Due to some unforeseen circumstances X Ambassadors were having some technical difficulties causing them to be quite a bit delayed, but people still cheered, mind you the cheering came for whenever a cloud blocked out the sun for a few moments. When they finally were able to come out the crowd still going strong did give them a loud ovation. Lead singer Sam Harris mused that he would get sunburned so bad. Only two songs in, they played Love Songs Drug Songs and busted out a sexy sax solo getting the crowd to groove to the beats. For their hit Unsteady the crowd sand without band accompaniment as hands were waving in the air. Due to them starting late, their set was a condensed one but they made the most of it. Jungle filled the field with so much noise, they sounded like a headlining act, something that may be in their future in a few more albums.

After the controversy surrounding Third Eye Blind’s appearance in Cleveland at the same time as the Republican National Convention, there was a big draw for their set at Wayhome. Well, the crowd would have been big anyways because there are many people touched by 90’s staples like Semi Charmed Life, Never Let You Go and the ballad Jumper. Stephen Jenkins wore high tops that looked worn out. His baggy shorts and messy hair completed his youthful look. This is a guy who is clinging onto the 90’s as much as we are. For someone to be bestowed with the great honour of taking us back in time, Jenkins and his Third Eye Blind troupe did not disappoint. As dialled back as he dressed, Jenkins also performed like this was twenty years ago. He told us all to join as one, which is as typical as you could expect from a feel good show. It was when Jenkins instructed us to say hello to a random stranger that we didn’t know that we started to get the bigger picture. He jumped and strutted across the stage, whipped his microphone cord around and even tossed his mic stand. There are nostalgia acts that feel dated and actually full of mould from being so past their expiration date. Third Eye Blind were a pleasant surprise, and a charismatic time travel that was well worth the visit; Our ten year old selves would be kicking us if we missed this chance, and they have every right to.

One of the quirky aspects of a festival is all the totems, Bahamas was quite perplexed as to why he was playing to Ellen DeGeneres’ face making for some funny banter.

A Tribe Called Red is a shining star in Canada’s deep catalogue of incredible talent. The DJ trio found an increasingly growing audience that extended far past the borders of the WayBold stage during their hour-long performance. It’s no wonder; the booming chants, dances and singing inherent to First Nations music was beautifully blended into a dynamic set that beckoned both curiosity and movement as people joined the fold. Between remixes of Kanye West, A Tribe Called Quest, and injections of both old material (Electric Pow Wow Drum) and newer cuts, A Tribe Called Red once again demonstrated that they are no side note act; they demand to be front-and-center, and deserve to be, too.

If ever a band was in the wrong time slot, it was M83 as they played when the sun was finally going behind the trees but they should have played when the sun was down for the full epicness of their light show and cinematic stage show. Anthony Gonzalez, M83’s sole band member, spoke sparingly but said “Benvenue, we’re happy to be in Canada and let’s have a great show”. Only two tracks in they played Do It Try It, from their latest album Junk that featured keyboard plunking me and some slap bass hitting a deep groove together. The set borrowed heavily from the bands last two albums but played We Own the Sky a track from Saturdays = Youth. While Gonzalez is the only real member of the group, his backing band certainly stole the show too. Heart pounding drums, a bass player who kept the crowd hyped up and a backing vocalist who’s beautiful singing soared over the crowd. The crowd was in for a surprise when Mai Lan was brought out to sing Go! and Bibi the Dog the two tracks she guests on the Junk album. Watching the crowd collectively lose their minds during the sax solo for Midnight City will be one of the greatest moments of the festival this year.

Over the years, audiences have forged deeper connections with Arcade Fire partially because of how synonymous their storytelling is with their lives, and partially because of how much the band has evolved in the way they share those tales. When it came to the band’s headlining performance at this year’s Wayhome, a refined, continuous flow that mainly explored the band’s catalogue in album chunks, there was little shared with the audience beyond the show, and that was okay; most things that needed to be said were already there in the tight-knit crowd. Reflektor, Afterlife and Here Comes the Nighttime naturally found joyous movement; Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) and The Suburbs were a welcomed journey down nostalgia lane; and Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels), Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out) and “Rebellion (Lies) took the audience back to the early days of the Montreal fixture.

When words were shared, they were just as poignant as anything the band tell us on record. Win Butler spoke on the need to continue to invest in the arts and fund young bands out there, while also thanking the audience for coming to their stage and supporting them over the years. In all honesty, there hasn’t been much of a choice over the years; there has always been a magnetic pull with The Arcade Fire, and under the Wayhome sky with fireworks in the distance as they closed with “Wake Up”, it seemed that it is magical, too.

Right after the Arcade Fire set, while there were still fireworks launching from behind the VIP barn, Savages started their tucked away set with huge amounts of back lighting. Following a day of fun, energy and the chance to forget all that has been troubling us, vocalist Jehnny Beth ordered us to reflect on everything that makes us feel “like shit”. We were to focus on the toxic, the sickening and the hateful. She takes this cue from an idol of hers: Alan Vega, known for his unconventional work with Suicide. Vega, who just passed away not even ten days ago in his sleep at 78, believed in bringing your problems to a show and expelling your anguish, and if any band at Wayhome believes in the same methods, it’s Savages. After a touching toast to Vega, Savages proceeded to tribute the late artist with a cover of Goodbye Darling, one of his solo efforts. The music was loud enough to be heard from any part of Wayhome once Arcade Fire was done, so the opportunity to wallow together was quite inviting. People flocked over and got an hour long blast to their senses. You can party by escaping, or party by accepting. Savages had us bring on our demons, and we damn well did with blinding lights and the dim stars above.

Getting a prime post headliner slot in the nightclub known as the Way Bold stage, the artists everyone was packed in to see still felt the need to introduce himself “I don’t know who knows me but I’m Vince Staples“. The party was rocking from start to finish as songs like Jump Off the Roof was played early on as Staples prowled across the stage in black skinny jeans and a tucked in blue plaid shirt. He asked the crowd who was going to Major Lazer later as he played a remix of one of his own songs by them. Surprisingly he also played Smoke and Retribution, the new Flume song he sings on. A “fuck the police” chant lead into Hands Up, a song about being accosted by blue badges. The great thing about Staples songs are that he has very repetitive chorus’ making it easy to sing along like his biggest hit Norf Norf as people screamed “I ain’t never rand from nothing but the police” over and over again. By the time the last song, Blue Suede, was played Way Bold had been turned up to an 11 with bodies flying around and the lights blasting non stop.

Wayhome presented attendees with a difficult choice deep into the night; either fall into the dancehall-reggae motions of Major Lazer, or become entranced by FKA Twigs. If you chose Major Lazer, you were met with a likely unexpected overflowing audience at WayBright, the backend of which did not receive the full force of speaker support it needed to fully enjoy drops like Jack Ü’s Where Are U Now and Tove Lo’s Habits amongst their catalogue cuts. Joking that they didn’t know where in Canada they were, Major Lazer knew how to prompt their audience with shout-outs to Pickering, Ajax and Scarborough, Toronto sports teams and calling Canada one of the safest and best countries out there. It was hard to resist the infectious beats and charm of the trio, especially Diplo, who eventually made his way to the audience in a plastic bubble to see how well everyone could express themselves.

Over at WayBold, FKA Twigs casted a hypnotic spell with an hour long performance built on sharp sonic production, intensive dance segue ways and of course, her incredible voice. It was an art-piece designed to pull audiences into an immersive experience on all fronts, which proved to stun those in attendance. After a long day of sun, that’s a difficult thing to do; but FKA Twigs’ enigmatic quality and other-worldly vocals managed to do so, through Figure 8/Video Girl, Numbers and new material. When Two Weeks finally came into rotation, the audience was shaken awake, realizing that FKA’s world was all consuming, and far too good to miss.

About author

Mehek is a Toronto-based writer who dwells in music, film, tech, and everything in between. Find her on Twitter at @whatthemehek where she’s probably talking about the latest release, sharing GIFs, or retelling her awkward encounter with Childish Gambino.