Peter Hook & the Light: Substance On Tour

The city we live in, and the wider world of music lovers who know and remember the 70s and 80s, has finally turned a corner.

Peter Hook & The Light at The Phoenix, 2011.

After a committed, years-long effort to widely tour first, his Joy Division masterpieces and then, the early works of New Order, Peter Hook, an undeniable bass god, innovator, musical (and Manchester) ambassador has achieved something brand new in the cities that need routine shaking up these days: He’s made us remember, in our bones, what it felt like, back then. He’s made a clamour, just like he and his band mates did all those years ago, he’s ripped apart the complacency and staleness that befalls even the biggest music cities in between very special visits from those very special living legends across all genres that matter, and he’s done this by doing the impossible: by reinvigorating and reinterpreting music so iconic and so deep it is tattooed upon two generations’ very marrow. Songs that feel as innate as a pulse, that beat the same way. Grooves that he alone invented, using an underappreciated instrument in all new ways, that took the masses from the Joy Division depths of the darkest places of the soul, to the transcendent crystalline New Order anthems that would define and dictate what it meant to dance in the 1980s. And not just in Manchester or England or Europe, but across the world.Peter Hook should not have to prove anything to any one of us. He’s changed the world a couple of times already. But the world of music needs him now. New Order tours in the 80s and 90s in North America were spotty, intermittent things, but well-remembered, and attendance at those in the big and lucky Canadian and American cities is one of those badges of honour still carrying currency when you feel out a new friend or business associate to this very day.  The importance of Joy Division, and of New Order, can simply not be overstated. No matter how many pints are attacked and left for dead in an evening of discussing one of our bands as deeply as our own family members, and with more invested sometimes.

With or without the cred or the opportunity to have seen New Order when New Order was intact (& included founding member Peter Hook) the music he worked to create in those formative years holds an uncommon place in millions of hearts that loves it still, like a first, best crush that never let you down. Like if Molly Ringwald’s Samantha of Sixteen Candles and her Porsche driving Adonis of substance, everyone’s boyfriend Jake Ryan, stayed young and in that first bloom-freeze frame forever, candles burning brightly, never got old or fat or yelled at one another, and definitely never ended in bitter divorce, the rusted Porsche now being bitterly fought over, their bratty and ungrateful kids never even knowing how beautiful their parents were, once, that impossible red hair now gone ashen.

New Order music still shimmers and raises the roof of any room the discs are spun in, and it always will. Joy Division still hits us in those sad places, comforting and empathetic when we are at a low. The specialness, the untouchableness of these records is well known. But what’s newer, and what really adds profound meaning to all this casual beauty of all of our younger days is that as the original players and fans all age, we are confronted with the truths of mortality everyday. In music, whether because we’re pining for that heroic singer we never got to see who will be forever mourned who died long ago, or the legends who died in 2016. Our 80s dance, post-punk, and new wave (aw, hell, the best of it has no genre at all, internet cataloging be damned) has a different lifeforce than the holier than though, mono, diner sountracked 60s. It came of age, we came of age, in the cold war. In various kinds of cold wars. The end of the century. Fear and loathing. Recessions and repressions and disconnectedness as normal. And music was then our only church, our only teacher, our only dad. This truth cuts across a bunch of genres but has a feeling. It was made by, and speaks to, creative people who aren’t about databases, lists and soundbites but know the plain truth that there is a genre called, only, Clash Music. There is a genre called, only, Joy Division Music. There is a genre called, only, Cure Music. And there is a genre called, only, New Order Music. And for many of us that last genre ended,  in its original form, in 2007.

Peter Hook & The Light in Minehead, 2015

What came out of New Order’s dissolution was there for anyone fit, willing and able, to pick up the pieces and move on. Never mind the books, the press banging out the same old note, loving a feud as they do, loving to see, to fan the flames of, and to feast over any bones they can get of any ugly public breakdown, as if this majesty could be reduced to a red top headline. You need only be in one of the rooms (or watercraft) when Peter Hook has been playing with his new outfit, ably accompanied now by his son, Jack Bates, trading off highs and lows, changing the narrative and evolving, unafraid, committed, the frontman he always really was, in tour after tour now developing into an appealing singer far closer to Ian Curtis than Sumner ever was, to forget all you knew or read or wondered or grieved or griped about that band or this band or the band before; to know that this is a rare artist whose heart is bigger than his talent even; underneath that utter cool, that he breathes and lives to this music as we do, more, you know, you must know, and that the claim upon all this art and these beats is asserted because it’s right and good and erasure of the past is sometimes all you can fucking do to live again. It’s the news of the day. It has happened without much fanfare at first, with the easy sneers the now irrelevant press taught us drowned out, and been built, again, from the ground up inside a room in Manchester, and brick by brick in a new foundation of sound and feeling. You’ll know if you were there, if you’ll be there. That is, if you can get a ticket.

Peter Hook & the Light play Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall Tuesday November 29th (Sold Out).

We’ll be writing on and photographing the show when not cheering and crying as we’ve done on two continents since 2012 so check back with us for more on this story.

Words by Jacqueline Howell, all photographs by Dave MacIntyre

We wrote about Shiiine On Weekender’s first year and the historic, still talked about Peter Hook & the Light show that brought the house (tent) down, here.

Here’s a snippet of that review, just about a year ago now:  “Hooky’s God-like status intact, we are the lucky ones at a very special gig. Here we get no less than an assault of Joy Division and New Order’s finest, and their finest can touch you in places in the heart you thought for sure had died along with your innocence…it’s genius: unencumbered by the grind of breaking in new music and at last answerable only to himself, the fans get an intense and pitch perfect wave of nothing but gold. This alone would have been worth the trip (overseas from Canada to UK), and the ridiculously reasonable ticket price.”

TURF: Toronto Urban Roots Festival Returns

TURF, Toronto’s Urban Roots Festival and one of the leaders in the city’s downtown music festival scene (that put Fort York’s Garrison Common on the map as an event destination) returns Sept 16-18th with 3 full days packed full of diverse live music. There is still news to come from TURF, with one more artist to be announced as of August 3rd.

TURF takes a different approach this year to the over-analyzed “Headliner/tiny font/ who should be on what line” postering style of many other festivals that arm-chair critics are more into than music fans and attendees themselves. In fact, this well-established leading local event has a solid base of returning attendees that need little prompting. And what newcomer and established music/ TURF fans need most of all is a list and a breakdown of days, then of stages, and they go forth and enjoy it. The website is refreshingly straightforward and informative. The broad line up of acts includes James Bay, Death Cab for Cutie, Lush, Ween, Barenaked Ladies, Dropkick Murphys, The Sheepdogs, Whitehorse,  Matthew Good, The Rheostatics, & Dwayne Gretzky (doing The Tragically Hip). With over 40 bands on the bill including some of Canada’s very best artists and visits from great bands both south of the border and  abroad, there is something for everyone during what’s usually the most seasonably perfect time for music festival goers in Toronto: September.

Flying the flag of Shoegaze as we do here at Step On Magazine, one of the biggest draws for us is the long -awaited return of Lush, who’ve come back in 2016 with new music (EP Blind Spot, which we’ve reviewed as one of the very best releases of the first half of the year) and have embarked on a big tour this summer on the strength of the back catalog and new song. We are really excited to see them and see the crowd rediscover the beauty of British Shoegaze sounds in the open air (for the first time for us).

But TURF really has something to offer for every music fan. With our local and nationally strong tradition of rock and bar bands, our homegrown (and down to earth) stars have ways of entertaining people from coast to coast and in any setting. As we’ve said before, traversing this country is no small thing, and the bands who’ve been out playing for years are absolutely world-class. The New Pornographers are among the brightest lights to emerge in the scene in the last decade. Matthew Good has been shaping the sound of Canadian music since the historic music industry heights and creative riches that we all enjoyed in the 1990s.

Swedish Garage Rock/Punk band The Hives whose music ranges to the timeless sounds of storytelling and pure folk rock as well, is on the bill with a six-album strong catalogue of their own brand of sounds after a big tour with AC/DC in late 2015.

Folk-rock husband and wife duo, Whitehorse, are one of the most talked about bands in recent years. Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland are now touring new album The Northern  South Vol 1.

Explosions in the Sky, an experimental band full of layered, pretty sounds and musicianship, come out of the Texas post-rock scene, offering Toronto music critics and fans who’ve not yet been able to make the trip to SXSW and other great music sites a great chance to see them live. (See our review of Explosions in the Sky’s album, The Wilderness, here.)

Julien Baker had one of the best sleeper records of 2015; Sprained Ankle was one of our favourites of 2015, which we reviewed here.

TURF’s ticketing structure and pricing is both uncomplicated (how refreshing in the ever-more complicated festival landscape) and extremely reasonable: One day passes are only $85 for GA and $145 for VIP, while Tier 1 GA passes are $185 (for 45 bands!). Note that TURF is a 19 + event.

TURF is also hosting a number of pre & after shows that are seperately ticketed at super-reasonable rates, offering more chances to catch TURF bands an additional time in intimate venues via their Club Series, which kicks off at The Horseshoe September 14th. (Bands include The Sheepdogs and Limblifter) (Note TURF VIP Master Pass holders can see the Club series at no extra charge.)

By Jacqueline Howell

Belly, the band who released the great 1995 album King, to Tour UK and US this Summer

When Tanya Donnelly announced in February that Belly, the great 90s Alternative rock band, was reuniting for a tour, it was enough to crash websites and cause a happy panic in long dormant but still devoted core fans around the world. Always underrated, this band enjoyed some success but never got their due or longevity of a career that some bands enjoy (however these are fewer and fewer these days.) This relegated them to that special place in our world where we will always keep the CDs and they still get played, only with an added reverence and an untouchable glow. Their album King is, in our view, a let it play start to finish masterpiece.  All of this has placed Belly atop many fans’ wish list for reunion.

Social media has totally changed the lives and relationships of fans and musicians, for those who are willing to (bravely) engage with the people, as Belly and many others of their generation and positive, down to earth attitude do, gamely. Instead of aloof and mystery, artists now have to reckon with personal requests and may find themselves involved in heavily administrative and PR work that comes with the social media territory. If these bands are both deserving (as Belly’s members are) and lucky, their fans can form a supportive network that gives cues about the feasibility of touring and / or recording new music, but they are cues only. The band still has a big risk and a sea change ahead to mount such an endeavor.

Belly’s February announcement of the planned summer tour came along with the promise of new music- another welcome sign of a sea change for this band (and, as flag bearers for the 90s resurgence we so crave, dare we say, for music itself.) While many 90s bands have reunited to tour on the strength of their past hits, the news of new music is rarer but is the catnip new fans and the blogosphere media tends to crave.

In the case of Belly (the band) there is the possibility of confusion about news, touring information and music, due to a situation beyond the band’s control. There is another solo artist performing under the name “Belly”, a rapper from Canada who entered the fray around the mid-2000s. As such, be sure to suss out touring news about Belly (the band) via the band’s official Facebook page or their website. 

Unofficial and semi-official ticket touting sites have already begun confusing the matter by using the wrong picture (of Belly the band, or their logo) for a gig belonging to the solo rap artist who hails from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Please cross reference any such info with official sources.

Belly the band: Tanya Donnelly, Gail Greenwood, Tom Gorman and Chris Gorman, kick off the U.K. leg of their tour in Glasgow July 15th, with stops in Leeds, Manchester, Norwich, Notts, Bristol, London and Dublin (July 23) before heading back to the U.S. starting with Boston August 9, and hitting major U.S. hubs (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Portland, Philly & more) for the rest of the summer.

Jacqueline Howell

Ezra Furman: An Interview Mid-Way Through An Unmissable Tour

Ezra Furman has been just a little busy of late. The singer/songwriter and seriously original performer, supported by his versatile and seamless backing band, the deliciously christened “Boyfriends” has been dazzling audiences across the US (plus one Toronto stop) en route to the UK and Europe for sold out, well-received shows on a head-spinning schedule over the course of the fall touring the new album “Perpetual Motion People”. The titles are evocative: “Can I Sleep in Your Brain” “Body Was Made” “Lousy Connection” and cue a talented wordsmith and wit who does not disappoint.

We were lucky enough to catch Furman on the Toronto stop, which happened to be during a very historic national weekend: the eve of the biggest and most passionately discussed federal election in a decade. Each of the artists on the bill that night made reference to the news of the day, which unusually, captured the spirit and focus of the young, the apathetic middle aged, as well as the seasoned voter. Ezra weighed in too, on this, his first visit to Hogtown. Picking up on the energy of the nation and the room, he stepped forward to offer to run  for Prime Minister. By the end of the show, I think it would have been a landslide win for the American.

If you are lucky and involved enough in your music scene, willing to spend freely and are discerning and diligent,  you may be able to earn one revolutionary moment in the live scene per year. It may be when you finally see the universally underrated guitar god who wrote the soundtrack of your entire youth before you. It may be when you see the gorgeous, singular, band you’ve been listening to for decades and find that outside of the compressed format you’ve let become the norm of home “audio” they are earth-shattering and life-changing- hiding your tears because the music live has the power to, as one YouTube commenter said “make you see how beautiful the world could be.”

Finding that kick in new artists who are unknown to you is a much rarer thing. There needs to be a bit of, I’m sorry, but kismet. You have to be there to hear the words and music, and be able to tune out all the noise around you (and in you). But that’s exactly what happened upon seeing Ezra Furman. We’ve hesitated to write as it seems futile, beside the point. In this world, you really have to be there. But you can be there.
Ezra is a slight figure and it was a small and densely packed stage during which the course of an hour or so, both the man and the stage and the feelings swelled to the size of a stadium. So this is what “they” talk about when they talk about that long gone-you’ll never get to know-era of early 70’s punk & glam. Of those that leave it all on the stage, that are born to perform and to share their art and that defy the cynical age of unreality and digital nonsense in which we’ve allowed ourselves to, not live, but, rather exist. This must be why Iggy’s gigs are still legendary, why The Ramones still shimmer, untouchable even as ignorant children defile their greatest of all the great logos, why we still mourn Joe Strummer so sincerely to this day. What makes Lou’s stature grow even after his passing, as the Velvets are cast into priceless platinum. This is what my beloved John Cameron Mitchell as Hedwig was trying to shake us all into remembering in 2001. What many of us stoics spend years in dingy clubs losing our hearing, paying our dues by the import bottle to hope to find. We are romantics, you see. Treasure-hunters. Behind our detached big city eyes, we are aching to lose this ridiculous false front. And so we do.
Ezra falls, stepping into a gap on the small stage, then, turning the tables on any discomfort or embarrassment of falling, climbs into the hole. Disappears behind a monitor seamlessly like the kid who always won at hide and seek. But the song, and his singing, continues. Here, his band drops their chilled out facade ever-so-slightly, for the only time. They are used to Ezra’s wildness and rawness, they are his boyfriends who will catch him when he falls, even if he takes down a keyboard on the way. The saxophone player’s eyebrow raises and one eye drops to the place we last saw Ezra, for a few beats. It’s touching and it’s real. Aside from the band, only the front rows even know this has happened. By now, Furman has already sung about going down deep into the ocean, about wanting, and longing, and has shared with us identity questions that the best artists communicate as questions each one of us who are alive ought to ask, even outside of all the gender bias or norms we’ve been told to aspire to (and within those questions). Here is your hero, all my freaks and geeks and queers of all types. And he’s real.
A lot of the musical comparisons are lacking (or fail totally) as each are themselves total individuals (as is Ezra Furman) so I’ll tip a hat to my literature student roots and those who tread there instead and tell you that what I saw most of all was an artist with the ability to embody the Trickster of Magical Realism, which is really the modern variant of all of that legacy of musical creativity of eras before. Trying to capture the moment of the Furman gig the following day, I wrote, bombastically, “Nothing written or photographed or recorded can ever be worth one damn vs what happened in that room, in the often small, intimate rooms where real magic happens once in a great while but for what it’s worth, I happened to have a brilliant photographer with me, and Iggy Pop is a fan of this music.” I stand by my still-high on the experience Facebook post.
 Ezra Furman is a true artist who uses the too often messy and exploitative world of public social media rather well and cordially but sparingly which is not easy for younger artists to do (Ezra is 29). Being reserved in this medium is a welcome throwback that is rather a bold move for younger artists. It is also essential, it seems to me, for an artist’s growth to be able to keep as much private space as possible, to leave us wanting more, and not have their walls so encroached. In turn, we owe it to him to fly that flag in the way we would have only a decade ago and certainly, would have done instinctively in decades past. Without picking the man, the human, the art, or even the love to pieces, but to leave some mystery there, to wait, to line up, to see the gig, to lay back and let the album wash over you, and to let it all (and the artist) breathe. You can see and feel this music right now in all sorts of interesting, intimate, usual spaces. As it’s meant to be for those who got there first. Music like this is one of the most encouraging and inspiring things to come along in a decade, alongside (but not at all musically like) The Strokes, The White Stripes, Sufjan Stevens, The National, Arcade Fire, Owen Pallett, and all the other originals in bold names or small type who’ve given you lightening bolts of  hope. Breathe. Feel. Love. Give.
 Ezra Furman (& the Boyfriends) are touring through the US & many key cities Europe through March 2016. Catch them if you can. 
An Interview with Ezra Furman
Step On Magazine:What were you listening to this year?
Ezra Furman: So much. Sparklehorse, Cat Power, tUnE-yArDs, Fiona Apple, Kendrick Lamar, Sufjan Stevens, Low Cut Connie, Krill, Tristen, the Misfits, Nina Simone, the Mountain Goats, Titus Andronicus. Endless list. Those are just what came to mind immediately.
SO:What are your highlights of the year? 
EF: We put out an album that I’m really proud of. It’s called Perpetual Motion People. We also played some really great shows. I wrote some good songs that I’m eager to share with you.
         A lot of great albums came out this year. Krill, Sufjan Stevens and Kendrick Lamar all put out stunning work.
SO: What’s ahead for for your projects in the next six months?
EF: The book series 33 and a third just accepted my proposal to write a book about the album Transformer by Lou Reed. I’m really excited to write it. It will be over a year until it comes out but I’ll be hard at work.
We’ve also got a little bit of new music—not a whole album, just  a little—we’re almost ready to release it. We’re still figuring it out. I’m hoping it comes out in the next six months.
SO: Do you have a prediction for 2016?
EF: I predict the end of all war and poverty.
SO: What is your perfect Sunday?
EF: I just got off of a really long tour, so right now my answer is just staying at home and listening to music and making food and being happy.
SO: What do you do on tour with 4 hours off in a new city?
EF:  I love walking around in an area I know nothing about. It’s kind of stupid because I could probably do more with my time if I looked things up and got recommendations of where to go. But I just love being a little bit lost and not knowing what I might come across. I love being an outsider full of wonder in a new place.
SO: What are you reading (when you get 30 minutes to yourself?)
EF: I’ve been trying to read Swann’s Way by Proust. It’s really hard and I might not finish but it’s so good. I also read the weekly Torah portion all the time. And I’m working my way through the whole Hebrew Bible, getting to the lesser known parts, checking out the B-sides.

By Jacqueline Howell. With very special thanks to Ezra Furman.

Ezra Furman’s music  (Perpetual Motion People, The Year of No Returning, Day of the Dog)

Ezra Furman’s website (& tickets): A guide for the Perplexed

Ezra Furman on Facebook

Gotta Be a Loose Fit: Happy Mondays



“I wrote for luck. They sent me you.”

Happy Mondays erupted out of a Manchester that was somehow entirely different than Morrissey and Marr’s town, twisting The Smiths’ wry wit by the ear.

They bore nothing at all in common with other greats from their city who came before them: Joy Division, New Order, James;  except that they were also singular and also great.

Even twenty odd years on since Pills, Thrills and Bellyaches, it’s astounding and ever thrilling to hear the cocktail of sex, drugs, debauchery, profanity, humour, satire and weirdness that falls out of Shaun Ryder’s stream of consciousness lyrics which are actually often quite pointed and full of cultural criticism, beautifully uncensored and unfiltered, unfettered. They shimmer with true freedom as so many great, at times opium fueled poets of ages past would have loved to be.  These words and intonations were carried on a sketchy breeze of cool, unfussy rebellion, of the sound of Baggy itself, of a shrugging toughness that could never be faked. Whispered in the ear,  mumbled, or barked lyrics travelled round the world and made kids everywhere want to be part of one local scene that existed too briefly in one Northern English city, and the larger unknown culture that formed it, as we nodded if not knowingly, than wishfully, that we could get even a tenth of the inside references. A lifetime mission to penetrate this dialect was born in suburban hearts everywhere.

For to learn the slang of the gang was as worthwhile a pursuit as any we could think of from miles and miles away. Shaun Ryder, the unpredictable bard, made “twistin’ my melon” sound needlessly dirty, naturally, while “four, four in a bed. Three giving head. One getting wet ” came out sounding, oddly, rather romantic and sweet.  The bite of anger in “Wrote for Luck” was mitigated by the naturally funny and freeing lift of Ryder’s offbeat moments, like a long yell in the middle of the song that seemed to say as much about what it felt like to be young in 1990, in northern towns, far from the centre, in faded empires, under grey skies as it seemed to maybe just say, “eh, fuck you”. And today, the same howl and stomping cool of this anthem offers commuter relief in its forever unpackaged originality. Try it on a loop, it’ll change everything on the coach.

They were Bummed. They were Happy. They said Yes Please while picking your pocket, because singing about the travails of a Mondays’ “Holiday” involving “one small sneak” is just too damned funny to be any kind of crime, no matter what the contraband. They were unabashedly street. And they were smart. They reminded us that “Stinkin’ Thinkin’ gets you nowhere (but comes from somewhere).”

“Kiss me for screwing everything in sight. Kiss me for never getting it right. Kiss me goodnight. Kiss me for old time’s sake. Kiss me for making a big mistake.” How could anyone resist?

Have the Mondays ever received their due? In spite of the question that lingers like smoke for this band and so many others who burned so bright in the early 90’s, The Mondays are bigger than petty concerns or a waste of time jostling for cred, as ever. Instead, as if summoned by the endless dreams and devotion of global fans, The Mondays are on a major anniversary lap this past year, a high point of which is undoubtedly headlining the unusually cohesive line up for November’s Shiiine On Weekender.  This festival boasts a roster of the top albums of 1990-91 (and beyond) from across Indie, Dance, Ambient, and Manchester bands and offers a full weekend of music, films, DJ sets and pool parties, including one hosted by Bez himself. Pinch me.

And here we are, 15 years into this goddawful new millennium, when the jetpacks we were promised are still backordered, seeing The Clone Roses. Yes, please. We’ll take two: seeing the great Peter Fij (Adorable, Polak) for the first time ever. Oh and that’s just my personal favourites there’s The Wonder Stuff, Inspiral Carpets, Northside, Peter Hook and the Light, Stereo MCs, The Farm, The Orb, The Real People, Thousand Yard Stare…It’s a month away, and already historic for the happiness its triggered in anticipation.

Shaun Ryder and Rowetta in 1990But back to The Mondays. We’ve waited years for this band’s compositions and Shaun Ryder’s lyrics to receive the acclaim they deserve. True to form, cool resists such things and the body of work has instead gone on to be something better: an inside joke and a secret handshake understood by a select number of global insiders, a knowing head bob, and an appreciation that defies definition. “Show you what the cat’s been doing, and how he gets around” is no less funny if it’s a reference to good ol’ “Grandbag” shortly before his anticipated death, or an image of a family standing around watching and discussing the antics of the family pet (the true meaning of the line holds a decadent amount of air time at Step On Mag HQ of late; we suspect it’s the former, but we are endlessly entertained by the notion of the latter.)

In the intervening years when we all, unfortunately had to grow up (and before the welcome resurgence of our top 90’s bands now that our lot has the keys and can fill the roster like good Indie kids) The Mondays stayed on rotation through the LP, CD, and iPod years. We may never have dabbled in anything stronger than the evil, legal alcohol, but Pills, Thrills and Bellyaches has, through some strange northern magic, served as effective holistic medicine for what ails on that morning after commute. Somehow that Chill Out Room of a brilliant record (and it works best if played end to end) covers the hungover listener in a blanket of comfort that keeps subway rage to a minimum, and its smooth rhythms are a tried and true balm for the self-inflicted wounds of the drinker – a remedy we’ve prescribed to anyone who’ll listen for two decades. This band is not shambolic, you see. Rather, they were and are ingeniously tight and comfortable together, honed over many years before their breakthrough;  as well as their outside projects, their real lives and their individual survival. Back in 1990, their musical looseness, captured rather perfectly on their records along with Ryder’s off-the-cuff ramblings, gave us all something that sounds ridiculously fresh and spontaneous. And free. And offers a different kind of happiness: the darker, weird and authentic kind that we know is all.  And Shaun Ryder’s singing is still one of the most original, fearless and cool in all of music history. His rhymes and left turns contain multitudes that hold up ridiculously well alongside the greats of the English canon:

“We all learned to box at the Midget Club
Where we punched with love and did someone good
It’s good to see ya, to see you nice
If you do me once, well, we’ll do it twice
We’re twice as likely we’re twice as right
You say it’s wrong but we know it’s right

Ride on, right on”

Northern Soul is alive and well and will be celebrated in fine form down south at the seaside for one big weekend beginning one month from today. It might be time to pack up the skin tights and put on the Loose Fits again (Hallelujah!). The original and definitive Happy Mondays line up, with, of course, the inimitable and essential Queen Rowetta, will headline.  And will always shiiine on.

All lyrics c. The Happy Mondays (Ryder, Paul Anthony/ Whelan, Gary Kenneth/Day, Mark Phillip/Davis, Paul Richard/Ryder, Shaun William) Warner/Chappell Music Inc., Universial Music Publishing Group.

Happy Mondays 

Shiiine On Weekender

By Jacqueline Howell

Wayhome Music & Arts Festival Preview

Photo: Dave MacIntyre

With less than 30 days to go before Canadian music festival goers descend on an idyllic camping area in Oro, north of Barrie, Ontario, we thought it a good time to take a look at all the information that we have so far, and think about how best to plan our (hopefully) sunny days and nights under the stars. The Wayhome countdown is on!

It’s been 20 long years since we’ve attempted anything like this close to Toronto. Some of you will remember Eden Music Fest (1996) at Mosport Park, which we attended and wrote about here in the dark days of winter, a daring festival experiment in the 90’s (when Lollapalooza was brand new) that failed by some measures but is remembered very fondly and happily by fans who were there for its stellar line up of Canadian, US and UK acts, its easy going vibe, great weather and old-fashioned fun in a time long before smart phones, selfies and angry tweeting were the order of the day. Since the new “Bonnaroo-style” festival was rumoured and announced in early 2015, and before it had a name or venue confirmed, we’ve waited with anticipation and excitement to finally see it happen again in our midst. There’s since been a barn raised restored to stunning beauty. Some of our best Toronto, regional and food truck offerings are in the plans. Everything is almost in place ( including day-by-day line up schedule but not set times as yet) and creative strategies are being worked out from as far as B.C. and the U.S. for serious festival chasers. History has finally arrived.

With all the competition from the granddaddy European and UK festivals, as well as a now thriving, competitive scene in Canada and the US, there has been some criticism launched at some of the big festival promoters in North America that the line ups are underwhelming. There was also a major criticism made about the lack of gender diversity in many, if not most, of the big line ups (and it would seem, in the music landscape at the current time, itself). Festival promoters, though, relying on all-important word of mouth and the need to operate with magician-like flexibility to pull these massive productions off, tend to have their ear more to the ground for customer feedback than a lot of areas of entertainment, are able to make on the ground changes, and have gone some distance to correct these complaints locally.

But music, while the point of the gathering, is just a part of the big picture. Festivals today, especially the multi-day, camping variety with some out in the country flexibility, know that the discerning festival goer wants to be entertained, dazzled, surprised, and has moved beyond just midway food, (and needs something, or many things, to Instagram) and so in impressive Bonnaroo-style (who’s AC Entertainment has co-produced Wayhome with Republic Live) we can look forward to a precedent-setting array of true blue, heightened festival offerings. Here’s a cheat sheet:

The location: Burl’s Creek Event Grounds: Located just north of Barrie, (about 1.5 hours from Toronto, but prepare for traffic) is an expansive, grassy space surrounded by mature forests.


The festival: Wayhome Arts & Music Fest, July 24th-26th: There are flexible ticket, travel and accommodation options, including full three day event pass/camping ($249.99) VIP event pass/camping ($599.99) or single day VIP tickets ($299.99). Tickets are still available as of this writing.

Site offerings: A daily Farmer’s Market; four stages -Wayhome (Main/Ampitheatre)  Waybright: (Intimate second stage) Waybold (Dance tent) and Wayaway (Secluded Forest Stage feature late night performances); A Silent Disco; Wayart: Visual art installations throughout the grounds; numerous premium food vendors including Canadian institution Beavertails, Chevy’s Big Bite, fan pics Food Dudes and Busters and Fresh; and diverse beverage options beyond beer and water including smoothies, cold pressed juices and cold brewed coffee for the a.m. pick me up, and exciting VIP area Food offerings from The Drake Hotel (including a fish camp!). There’s also an Etsy craft market planned. There will be some 24 hour food and beverages available, a must for the night owls who bypass the grocery stop in Barrie, and prefer to live in the moment. For campers, there’s very reasonable camping rules and regulations to allow for economizing and cooking on site, as well as priming with some pre-game beers. Be sure to read the Wayhome site’s FAQ for all the info needed for campers and general rules).

General admission tickets include camping, and there’s a full program of live music from across genres, naturally, with 60 artists over 3 days including: Neil Young + Promise of the Real, Sam Smith, Kendrick Lamar, Alt-J, Modest Mouse, Hozier, Brandon Flowers (of The Killers) Bassnectar, St. Vincent, The Decemberists, Girl Talk, Future Islands, Run the Jewels,Passion Pit, Odesza, Alvvays, Yukon Blonde, Viet Cong, The Growlers (and many more).

The music will likely go all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so anyone who’s hoping to capitalize will probably want to plan to go up Thursday afternoon when the gates open (5:00 pm) or that evening.

See the Wayhome website, and their very detailed FAQ, as well as their Facebook page for information. Line up and other information is per the Wayhome official site and information emailed to ticket holders and is subject to change.  Blog TO has a great gallery of site photos as it looks today with the newly restored barn. There’s a very active Reddit thread that is a good place to exchange information and connect with other fans pre:festival.

Read our WayHome Miss Nothing! Music Guide here and here. Check back for our on-site festival coverage (photo galleries, festival reports, and reviews) over the Wayhome weekend. By Step On Magazine Editors

Full line up is below:

Line Up

Read more of our 2015 Festival Season Coverage:

Bestival Toronto Part 1

Bestival Toronto Part 2

Bestival Toronto Playlist

The Bonnaroo Diaries

Bestival Preview

Riot Fest Starts with You: A Fan’s Diary




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