The Evolve Music Festival, held annually in the oceanic hub of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, has become one of Canada's hottest summer jam band and youth culture events, hosting a who's who of the Canadian improvisational and electronic music scenes as well as some select American and international bands and DJs. Comprised of half bands and half DJs and centered around the theme of artistic expression and cultural awareness, Evolve is a wonderful musical and spiritual event, all amidst the beautiful scenery of Atlantic Canada's coastal plains.
E4, produced by the trio of Kent Sobey, Geoffrey Turnbull, and Jim Dorey, is a concert film in its basic state, as well as an effective promotional tool for the festival and the music communities that it showcases. Leaving plot, narrative, and dialogue behind, the trio of producers employed a vast array of camera angles along with broad crowd shots and extreme close-ups to capture the essence of the music and the emotion exuded by the performers. East Coast superheroes Grand Theft Bus and The Jimmy Swift Band are the main focal points of the film, and their music provides the introductory and climactic soundtrack to the film, with many bands showcased in between these fathers of the Eastern Canadian improvisational music scene.
The production team did an excellent job with the cinematography, employing director of photography Kelsey W. Smith to shoot every band from at least a dozen different angles, effectively re-creating the Evolve experience equally for the fan who was there and the viewer who has yet to experience the festival's charm. The sheer intensity of the performances, especially the pre-dawn set of Victoria's Wassabi Collective, the political, stripped down folk of Chris Brown and Kate Fenner, and the down-home, rootsy acoustics of Hot Toddy are captured perfectly, as the filmmakers did a fantastic job of letting the music and action do the talking. The resulting film is an enjoyable, conjunctive, and rather exciting watch from start to finish.
The only thing that bothered me with E4 was the choice of performances in the film, and the over abundance of similar and repetitious crowd shots. Firstly, highly touted headliners Medeski Martin & Wood were only featured in an interview segment (in the bonus feature) and NO DJs, including mainstream heavyweight Mark Farina, were featured in the DVD. Along with that, upcoming Canadian bands like Tala and Blue Quarter received maybe 30 seconds of footage, while The Jimmy Swift Band was featured for nearly 15 minutes. I would rather have five minutes of each band, to add more to the diversity of the concert film experience. Finally, while the crowd is just as important as the music in an effectively shot concert film, the photographers seemed to only focus on one or two attractive girls throughout many performances, proving that even in the culturally-conscious community that this festival revolves around, sex still sells.
Overall, E4 is an impressive and ambitious attempt at creating a timepiece for Eastern Canada's music scene, and a true testament to how fantastic and integral Evolve is for Canada. If you are looking forward to E5 as much as I am, buy the DVD at www.farmhouseproductions.ca and be sure to visit the festival website at www.evolvefestival.com.
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