Those lazy, hazy days of summer festivals have been hyped up the wazoo but a confluence of external factors—including erratic weather patterns, escalating artist fees, a subpar Canadian dollar and too many festivals of all kinds crowding the same few months of June through August—is spilling blood on the tracks.
The three-year-old WayHome Music & Arts, produced by Republic Live, has announced the three-day camping festival held at Burl’s Creek Event Grounds, about 90 minutes drive north of Toronto, is on hiatus for 2018. Insiders suggest the big-league endeavour has seen declines in attendance in the past two years, and a few insiders suggest this year’s July 28 to 30 event took a seven-figure hit with a lineup headlined by Flume, Imagine Dragons and Frank Ocean.
Republic Live is a privately held company, so no actual figures need be disclosed.
In its inaugural year, WayHome headliners included Sam Smith, Kendrick Lamar, and Neil Young.
In 2016, LCD Soundsystem, Arcade Fire and The Killers played at the festival.
In May, WayHome Music & Arts was awarded the Live Music Industry Award for the major festival of the year during at the 2017 CMW Industry confab.
In a press release issued by Republic Live, the co-founder of the festival explained the reasoning for the 2018 pause.
"After much consideration, we have made the difficult decision to push pause on the 2018 edition, to allow us to reflect, re-assess and reimagine the event," says Eva Dunford, co-founder/partner, Republic Live.
Dunford thanked all the fans, staff, sponsors and partners for their contributions to the festival.
The release confirms that Republic Live has plans to produce a series of concerts and events during the summer of 2018.
While the event organizers are ambiguous about exact plans in the new calendar year, someone with knowledge of the concert scene here suggests that AEG Live could strengthen its hand in the market and use the site for one or several mega-concerts similar to those staged at Empire Polo Club in Indio, CA and the Magnetic Hill concert site in New Brunswick.
That AEG step in is pure speculation, however.
Unaffected by the hiatus is Republic Live’s six-year-old Boots and Hearts country music festival on the same grounds.
Since the first three-day event in August 2012, Boots and Hearts has imported some of the biggest names in the genre. Among them have been Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, Toby Keith, Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert, Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts, Brad Paisley, Eric Church, Florida Georgia Line and a cavalcade of homegrown stars and up-and-comers.
This year's opening night was marred by a severe thunderstorm that necessitated the evacuation of a reported 35,000 fans for a couple of hours before the festivities resumed. The 2018 edition of the hat festival has been announced for Aug. 9 through 12.
The WayHome website unequivocally states that “this isn’t goodbye, just see you later.”
So, for now, it’s a year’s sabbatical for WayHome and more to come, according to the organizers.