Have we seen the last of multi-day music extravaganzas in Canada?
WayHome, who for the past three final weekends in July has been trying to convince Torontonians as well as big-name artists to trek up to Oro-Medonte, announced on the first day back to school that it was going back to the drawing board in terms of what it wants to offer inundated indie kids as a unique festival experience.
I shouldn’t have to mansplain to anyone that it costs a lot of money to run such a hullabaloo, money sometimes not even all the corporate sponsorship in the world can cover. Just ask people out in Squamish B.C. or better yet Pemberton, which pulled the proverbial rug out from under ticket-holders by declaring bankruptcy two months prior to its 2017 dates. Daily WayHome attendance this year was guesstimated at no more than 15,000 each day for headliners Flume, Imagine Dragons and Frank Ocean, down more than half from 2016 featuring LCD Soundsystem, Arcade Fire and The Killers.
Keep in mind this hiatus only applies to WayHome; all-country jamboree Boots and Hearts did just fine crowd-wise and isn’t going anywhere. No offence to any of their clientele, but that’s a brand built to the loyalty point where you could literally stick anyone on stage in a cowboy hat and attract an audience. The once-mighty “Alternative Nation” has obviously become more fickle, but at the same time have more entertainment choices than ever before.
The party line from promoter Republic Live is that they’re “pushing pause” on 2018. For a market that’s already lost Riot Fest and TURF to name only two, to say nothing of the phone book of music-related events that have come and gone through the Toronto area over the years, the prospects don’t look good for WayHome’s future. Vague promises are being made about stand-alone shows, meaning the Burl’s Creek Event Grounds venue will essentially be competing with Budweiser Stage, the soon-to-be renamed Scotiabank Arena and even SkyDome I-I mean Rogers Centre for high-end bookings.
There’s always Osheaga in Montreal if you really need your festival fix, returning August 3rd-5th, 2018.