Like a road trip and Tim Horton’s, The Tragically Hip and Canada Day basically go hand-in-hand. Cellphones lit up the Molson Amphitheatre on July 1st as “Wheat Kings” echoed over the water, Canadian flags flying high with pride. The third Toronto stop on their Fully, Completely tour, the iconic Canucks did not disappoint, enthusiastically playing fan favourites from “New Orleans is Sinking” to “Bobcaygeon”. As I stood on the lawn, watching the crowd mouth every word to every song on such a significant day, it got me thinking - what other Canadian band can cause such a powerful response?
It’s a hard truth that there’s somewhat of a lack of support when it comes to our music in the North. Big budgets and even bigger labels in the States have always cast a shadow on the Canadian music scene. One huge factor may be the fact that only within the past four or five years have we really seen music festivals become bigger and better from coast to coast. This summer, WayHome will surely change all of that. With the annual Hip concert passing us by, it seems appropriate to list the Canadian bands that will make a buzz at the Burl’s Creek event as it approaches.
Hosting an impressive roster of artists during the peak season for live music festivals, WayHome sports a lineup that rivals the more popular gatherings in the States (the fest is affiliated with the popular Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival). This is the latest overnight festival of its kind in Ontario since failed weekenders such as the ’96 Eden Music Fest (the Fest surprisingly boasted a website with live updates that’s still live today – who knew this existed in 1996?! I strongly suggest checking out the retro site).
Neil Young as the headliner will without question bring out the Canadian in everyone. As we assess the lineup though, the magnifying glass should be placed on the new bands and artists that could be the Neil Young or Tragically Hip of tomorrow.
Alvvays is one band that stands out on the roster, having reached local and international fame since their eponymous debut album in 2014. The indie-pop quintet is led by the rousing vocals of singer Molly Rankin…Don’t let the name fool you, her somewhat ironic, blasé tone is very different from her father, John Morris Rankin, of the popular 90s folk group The Rankin Family. With lovelorn lyrics and an upbeat melody, you will constantly be torn between tapping your toes and reaching for the tissues while listening to every track. Having always wanted to see this group, I’m looking forward to checking out their stage presence with the perfect sound for an outdoor festival. Can they rival Gord Downie’s exuberance? We shall see.
Stay tuned for reviews of other Canadian bands playing at WayHome as the days lead up to the fest, July 24 – 26.