Whatever musical vibe you were seeking, WayHome 2016 delivered. From big-name headliners to local talent, thumping EDM to smooth guitar, and slick hip hop beats to psychedelic synth, WayHome 2016’s motley assortment of rockers, rappers, and DJs offered up a consistently strong menu of music for every wayhomie in attendance.

With my proclivity towards indie rock and local musicians, my lineup for the three-day festival was heavy on smaller, lesser-known acts. To borrow a phrase from an old university friend I ran into as I left X Ambassadors’ Saturday afternoon set, I was working the “niche circuit”.

Here’s what I love about the “niche circuit”: it showcases a wide variety of genres, it exposes me to artists I may not have otherwise discovered, and it’s rich in Canadian content. In other words, it’s music festival perfection.

Check out nine of the best niche acts from WayHome 2016:

1.  Gary Clark Jr.

(Austin, Texas)
Genre: Blues Rock

Gary Clark JR - Indie Underground - WayhomeGary Clark Jr. was my #1 must-see act at WayHome 2016, and he’s about the only musician who could have tempted me out of the shade into the torturously sunny pit of the WayHome stage on Friday afternoon. His set was jam-packed with hits from his earlier albums, including personal favourites like “Next Door Neighbour Blues”, “When My Train Pulls In”, and the hard-rocking “Numb”. Having seen Gary Clark perform live on two previous occasions, I knew what to expect: soulful, unmatchable improvised guitar solos, smooth vocals, and a unique synthesis of R&B, grunge, and more than a little blues. Boy, did Gary deliver. Take a listen:

Follow Gary Clark Jr.:
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2.  Black Mountain

(Vancouver, British Columbia)
Genre: Psychedelic Rock / Stoner Rock

Black Mountain - Indie Underground - WayhomeWhere has Black Mountain been all my life? The Polaris Prize short-listed band’s powerful sound is reminiscent of old school hard rock, but with a healthy dose of synth and ethereal vocals provided by Amber Webber, Black Mountain creates a forceful juxtaposition that brings the Vancouver-based five-piece firmly into the new school of psychedelic rock. Watch the official video for “Mothers of the Sun” from Black Mountain’s Polaris Prize nominated album, IV:

Follow Black Mountain:
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3.  Dilly Dally 

(Toronto, Ontario)
Genre: Alternative Rock / Fuzzy Rock

Dilly Dally - - Indie Underground - WayhomeDilly Dally’s aggressive, fuzzy brand of rock was just what I needed to kick off the last day of WayHome. Between lead singer Kate Monks’ gritty vocals, the dust kicked up by the mosh pit ten feet to my right, and the blissfully overcast day, Dilly Dally turned up the notch on an otherwise mostly mellow weekend and prepared me for a day full of rock, dance beats, and psychedelic vibes. Listen to “Desire”, from Dilly Dally’s Sore (2015):

Dilly Dally will be playing at Elora Riverfest on Friday, August 19, 2016.

Follow Dilly Dally:
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4.  Foals 

(Oxford, England)
Genre: Indie Rock / Alternative Rock

Foals - Indie Underground - WayhomeWithin minutes of starting their set, it was clear why Foals won the Q Award for Best Live Act in both 2011 and 2013. Foals quickly revealed themselves to be one of the hardest rocking bands at WayHome – a bit of a surprise given the cerebral nature of their recorded albums. The English five-piece effortlessly transitioned between echoey instrumentals and some serious rock and roll, all accompanied by an elaborate light show straight out of a rave. Check out the title track from their most recent album, What Went Down:

More from Foals on Indie Underground:

Follow Foals:
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5.  Glass Animals

(Oxford, England)
Genre: Indie Rock / Psychedelic Pop

Glass Animals - - Indie Underground - WayhomeWrapping up their Sunday evening set with just enough time for their WayBold audience to catch the Killers rock the main stage, Glass Animals’ heavy beats and hip hop vibe were the perfect way to bring WayHome 2016 to a close. The quartet’s debut LP, ZABA, is deceptively low-key and cerebral, but their live performance was an electrifying mix of trip-hop, deep bass, and smooth R&B grooves. Check them out:

See Glass Animals at the Sound Academy in Toronto, Ontario on October 2, 2016.
Join the Facebook event.

Follow Glass Animals:
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6.  BadBadNotGood

(Toronto, Ontario)
Genre: Progressive Jazz / Instrumental Hip Hop

badbadnotgood - Indie Underground - WayhomeBadBadNotGood’s critically acclaimed mashup of classical jazz and hip hop drew a large crowd of die-hard fans to the intimate WayAway stage on Saturday evening. BBNG’s set included an eclectic mix of extended instrumental jazz solos, heavy grooving beats evocative of their previous collaborations with major hip hop artists like Tyler, the Creator and Ghostface Killah, and a number of tracks from their recently released much-lauded fourth album, IV. Stream “Confessions Pt. II” featuring Colin Stetson below:

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7.  Little Scream

(Montreal, Quebec)
Genre: Folk / Art Rock

Little Scream - Indie Underground - WayhomeMontreal’s Little Scream, aka Laurel Sprengelmeyer, got Saturday off to an atmospheric start at the WayBold stage. Her fluid vocals, synth-heavy instrumentals, and driving bass and drumbeat created a sense of low-key energy that would keep me fuelled for the remainder of my jam-packed Saturday schedule. Watch Little Scream perform “Evan” from her most recent album, Cult Following (2016):

Little Scream is currently touring in support of Cult Following. Check out more tour dates:

  • Saturday, July 30, 2016 | Republic of SappyFest 2016 | Sackville, NB
  • Friday, August 12- Saturday, August 13, 2016 | Eaux Claires 2016 | Foster Farms, Eaux Claire, WI, USA
  • Thursday, September 22, 2016 | La Salla Rossa | Montreal, QC

Follow Little Scream:
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8.  Vince Staples

(Long Beach, California)
Genre: Hip Hop

KnoVince-Staples---Indie-Underground-2--Wayhomewn for his disdain for “that cool s***”, Vince Staples brought his trademark aggressive and energetic style to the WayBold stage on Saturday night, and his audience was anything but chill. Listen to Vince’s hit “Lift Me Up”:

Follow Vince Staples:
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Bahamas---Indie-Underground---Wayhome9.  Bahamas

(Toronto, Ontario)
Genre: Folk

Toronto’s Afie Jurvanen, aka Bahamas, played some delightfully breezy tunes that were the perfect balance between folksy acoustic guitar and rock-inspired distortion. Listen to “All The Time” off Bahamas’ Polaris Prize long-listed album, Bahamas is Afie (2015):

Follow Bahamas:
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More on WayHome Music & Arts Festival on Indie Underground:

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Steph Schinkel

Steph is a music lover and aspiring epicure hailing from London, Ontario. When she’s not daydreaming about dessert, Steph can be found busting a move at shows featuring everything from folk to dubstep. By day, Steph works from home as a Content Strategist for a Toronto-based online marketing agency.