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Evolve 2007 Festival Review


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Evolve 8

August 3 – 5, 2007

Antigonish, Nova Scotia

Dave Rahmer

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Stephen Franke

I had missed the past two Evolves due to the scheduling of a honeymoon and a trip to Europe, and at times I felt like forces were going to keep me away again this year. First, complications in my kitchen renovations cost me Friday night's portion of the lineup. Second, Environment Canada was issuing a tornado warning in the neighbouring regions. When I finally got on the road Saturday afternoon, I drove through two thunderstorms. But as soon as I passed into Antigonish County, the sunshine broke through the clouds.

By the time I got settled and got my bearings, the schedule appeared to be out the window and Noises From The Toolshed were taking the stage. I have been very impressed with the Victoria BC based band since they swapped their rhythm section a couple years back and that continued today. They’ve transformed from a polite, jazz super club combo to grooving barroom rockers. The band is currently recording their rumoured-to-be all instrumental sophomore album. However, interspersed lead vocals by Stephen Franke, Chris Van Sickle and a guest by Moncton MC Split Lyric highlighted their set.

Noises From The Toolshed myspace

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Mother Motherer>

Vancouver buzz band Mother Mother delivered a set of wonderfully quirky pop from their acclaimed debut “Touch Up”. This band has a truly unique sound built on the weaving and harmonizing interplay between the male and dual female vocals. The energy and sheer charisma on stage easily won over the festival crowd.

Mother Mother myspace

Wintersleep was up next on the main stage. This is a band that I’ve perpetually missed since moving to the Maritimes, so I was eagerly anticipating. It’s surprising that this was the Halifax group’s first trip to Evolve, but with the line-up veering more towards hard rock than ever before they were a perfect addition. I’ve heard all the tired critiques about these guys, but once you get past the fact that singer Paul Murphy’s voice sounds a bit like Eddie Vedder you’ll find a powerful band with spectacular drumming and interesting arrangements. I’m not at all familiar with their catalogue but found myself easily singing along with the repetitive, hooky choruses.

Wintersleep myspace

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Sloco's Steve MacDougall

Slowcoaster headlined the band portion of the Sunflower Stage and they were definitely the big crowd pleaser, probably the largest main stage crowd and energy of the entire weekend. I thought it was a fun set, but marred by sound problems and a touch predictable for them. This was largely the same performance you could see on any given weekend somewhere in the Maritimes.

Slowcoaster myspace

Unfortunately Kidd Beyond had to missed on the main stage as it was time for Holy Fuck. And holy fuck! These guys pummeled us with an intense hour of non-stop live electronica on the Forward Stage. This was completely bananas; the raw pulsing beats and layered Casio keyboards bleeps worked the crowd into a frenzy. Especially impressive is the fact that Mike Bigelow and Loel Campbell pulled double duty after their Wintersleep set.

Holy Fuck myspace

Grand Theft Bus had a tough act to follow, but came out with guns a blazin’, showcasing mainly newer material. I’m continually amazed by both the quantity and quality of songs this band outputs. They are putting the finishing touches on album number three and if there’s any justice “Smell The Roses” is going to be the next Canadian rock anthem. Fredericton rockers The Fussy Part closed out the Forward Stage while the Gratefully Dedicated Sound System spun Dead classics into the wee hours.

GTB myspace

The Fussy Part myspace

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Then the rain came. Then the thunder. Then the lightening. And oh my god, the lightening was touching down all around us as the sky was aglow! I thought we were all goners as we scurried to find shelter. The power appeared to be knocked out at several stages. Eventually, soaked to the bone, I made it back to my tent as worries of Shoreline-past danced in my head.

Sunday morning the rain was gone and the sky was clear as Irie Band kicked off the day with some reggae. The tough luck story of the weekend, their van burned to the ground on their way from Toronto to Evolve. They lost all their clothing, gear and instruments save for one very charred Gibson. But the show went on, and they appeared to be in relatively good spirits all things considered. Edmonton’s Grassroot Deviation followed with their brand of bluegrass-tinged rock.

Irie Band myspace

Grassroot Deviation myspace

BC’s Hey Ocean were an unknown for me and I was very disappointed to miss the first half of their set. Funky pop with four part vocal harmonies highlighted the performance and they ended with all four members on the drum kit. Halifax songstress Jenn Grant and band followed with a surprise set of contemplative folk-pop.

Hey Ocean myspace

Jenn Grant myspace

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Carmen Townsend

The unknowns on the schedule continued to impress as Carmen Townsend knocked me flat on my ass. The total package, she rocked the fuck out on a gorgeous Guild hollowbody electric with a monstrous tone, wailed on vocals and mesmerized with her casual stage presence. Carmen and the Shakey Deals energized the lethargic Sunday afternoon crowd with her 70’s Zep-inspired songs and a well placed Blind Melon cover.

Carmen Townsend & The Shakey Deals myspace

The Tom Fun Orchestra, appropriately named, were a ton of fun. These guys are like the east coast Broken Social Scene meets The Pogues with banjo, accordion, fiddle, trumpet, drums, bass, acoustic and electric guitars all on stage. Shout along choruses and ragged rock; don’t miss this Cape Breton vaudevillian party when it visits your town.

Tom Fun Orchestra myspace

The Evolve Festival prides itself on being equal parts music and awareness. As part of their “green” initiative, federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May spoke to the crowd. Her message was short and simple – democracy only happens when young people vote; and when young people don't vote, you get Stephen Harper.

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DMSTer>

For all the merits of the rest of the lineup, Do Make Say Think was the main reason for my attendance. The highlight of my weekend was their beautiful Sunday evening sunset set. I couldn’t help but appreciate the picturesque setting, with rolling green hills as the backdrop, as DMST made their way through material largely from their last two releases “Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn” and “You, You’re A History In Rust”. Euphoric soaring melodies met sinister tension; lush soundscapes built to dynamic climaxes. The set closed with jubilant gang vocals on “In Mind”.

Do Make Say Think myspace

That 1 Guy absolutely slayed the unsuspecting Evolve crowd. One part Claypool, one part Tom Waits and one part bizarro science project instrument, Mike Silverman – aka That 1 Guy – flowed seamlessly from thick drum-n-bass grooves to lyrical gems (see “Songs in the Key of Beotch”). Silverman used all four of his limbs to hit strings, pedals, triggers and even an Electric Cowboy Boot and left the audience flabbergasted. I expected his shtick to be a bit gimmicky and grow tiresome over the length of a set, but he's such a natural all-around entertainer that I was fully enthralled throughout the duration. It may be a gimmick, but it’s an incredibly sophisticated and original one.

That 1 Guy myspace

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Keller Williams

Another one-man-band, Keller Williams, closed things out on the main stage. I’ve never been a big fan of Keller’s songwriting but there’s no denying his incredible chops. It was a treat to be able to see the building of layer after layer of instrumentation from up close. The setlist was a nice mix of originals, improv and eclectic covers (Van Morrison, Cameo, Butthole Surfers, Grateful Dead). However, Keller never seemed to get any momentum going in his set, it felt a bit flat after the spectacle that was That 1 Guy.

Keller myspace

All in all, I’m extremely happy I didn’t let the obstacles derail my trip altogether. The musical lineup was a bit of a sleeper on paper, but really delivered. Mother Nature gave us a spectacular display but generally cooperated. Big kudos to the Evolve Tribe for booking such high quality, diverse music, and for continuing to do so year after year as an independent festival without the aid of corporate sponsors.

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  • 1 month later...

Whoooooop I know this has been a while But I loved E8 had so Many time and half of them im still hazzey about but good times! Grand Thief Bus Was Absolutly Amazing and was the high light of my weekend followed closly by Lotus and Irie Band and always number one in my book GDSS I have never relaxed so much in a hamuk in my life ! See you all Next year and Hope the Irie Band comes back again, hopefuly the Super Bad luck will encourage you more to come back Evolve NEEDS more RASTA LOVE!

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