Delta Spirit WayHome Stage, Oro-Medonte ON, July 24

Delta Spirit WayHome Stage, Oro-Medonte ON, July 24
Photo: Shane Parent
The honour of being the WayHome Festival's first-ever main stage act was bestowed upon California rock quintet Delta Spirit, who christened the stage with a set that oscillated between catchy, jangly indie rock and the Americana of their earlier records. The tunes themselves always erred on the side of simplicity, following straightforward formulas with winding guitar-driven tracks that climaxed into solos, and catchy, repetitive choruses. Delta Spirit kicked things off with aplomb, quickly captivating the excited crowd and providing a fun start to a long, sweaty weekend.
However, lead singer Matthew Vasquez seemed to be at a whole 'nother show. With periodic breaks into Mick Jagger-inspired contortions and rambling, substance-less declarations of love to the crowd, Vasquez's behaviour came off as forced and disingenuous. Musically, Vasquez is no slouch: his throaty howl occasionally helped to propel the tracks beyond banal, summery rock, and showed no sign of slowing down by the end of the hour, but his persona was a little disconcerting from his opening greeting of "come closer, kiddies" to his occasional spitting into the audience or onstage, and felt out of place from the bright vibes of his band's music.
The set concluded with their flagship song "California," an infectious, poppy radio-friendly track that demonstrated the band's penchant for sprightly hooks. Unfortunately, it came at the end of a set that didn't work to embrace the song's feeling; Delta Spirit came off as a band caught between an alright, if not trite, sound and a contrasting stage presence that worked against them.