When word got out that Republic Live and Bonnaroo co-producers AC Entertainment were plotting a joint Ontario festival last year, there was a lot of talk of an impending “Toronto Bonnaroo.” But when the lineup was released for WayHome’s premier event last summer, it revealed a more nationally attuned event, boasting veritable acts from across the country. In anticipation of this year’s festival, which is doing it all over again, we’ve picked out some of your best bets for Canadian talent descending on Burl’s Creek July 22-24.
As much as it’s true that their snarling adaptation of Drake’s “Know Yourself” will probably go over well with the festival crowd, it seems just as likely that flanneled Toronto punk band Dilly Dally’s entire set at WayHome will attract a faithful contingent and win over some new crowds. 2015 was a breakthrough year for the Buzz Records act, seeing their scorching debut full-length Sore and its lead single “Desire” win them intercontinental critical praise and almost unanimous celebration in year end lists. This gig will be something of a homecoming when the band returns from its ongoing tour of Europe and the U.S. Either way, it’ll be hard to miss: it’s gonna get loud.
We don’t know much about Montreal solo project Little Scream’s upcoming sophomore release, but according to singer/songwriter Laurel Sprengelmeyer, it’s going to be big: “My new record is a crazy beast,” she says. The singer/songwriter certainly seems ready for it; Sprengelmeyer recently signed on to Dine Alone Records in Canada and Merge internationally, and Little Scream’s currently between a short run of gigs with Operators in Ontario and Quebec, with another tour throughout the states with Thao & the Get Down Stay Down set for April. With their first single “Love as a Weapon” already released and laying groundwork for a different, zippier sound than the one debuted on 2011’s The Golden Record, the forecast for Sprengelmeyer’s set at WayHome hints at a focus on the new material, but cuts from The Golden Record – an album that had Sprengelmeyer working with Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Perry and Sarah Neufeld (just saying) – wouldn’t be disappointing, either.
Touring announcements aside, we haven’t heard much from Vancouver-based hardcore/post-punk act White Lung since the release of 2014’s excellent Deep Fantasy, and that’s okay. Whether or not the band’s used its time on the road to assemble new material, they’ve amassed an impressive catalogue of speedy confrontational blasts that, fronted by verified badass Mish Way, could make a festival gig existing outside a promotional cycle a surefire hit parade.
Promoting material from last year’s Polaris-shortlisted Deep in the Iris as late as this past November, Calgary-formed, now Montreal-based art pop trio Braids seem poised to use WayHome as another platform for that powerful, intimate release. Like the album itself, that’ll mean amplifying feminist anthems about slut-shaming and rape culture that are just as pertinent as when they debuted, serving to make theirs one of the most important, positive voices at this year’s festival.
Toronto rapper/singer/producer Tory Lanez has long laid claim to a triple-threat status, having released more than a dozen mixtapes that see him combine a seasonable production ear with dejected rap-singing and undeniable R&B chops since arriving on the scene in 2009. Coupled with an animated stage presence, the formula translates to a winning concert experience, often resulting in Lanez making venues his personal jungle gyms, climbing structures and getting into it with the crowd. With a debut full-length (finally) coming down the pipeline in 2016 this could be a landmark gig for a performer working to set himself apart from local hype machines like Drake and the Weeknd.