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Organisers of the inaugural Evolve Arts Festival can give themselves a pat on the back for attempting to pull off such an unusual undertaking.

This festival was totally unique, in that it brought all forms of art together: from opera to rock to visual arts, through to circus and sword swallowing, in a town that’s renowned for its huge regional rock, blues and roots festivals, like Splendour in the Grass and The Byron Bluesfest.

Crowds were much smaller than most parkland Festivals in Byron, and I believe much smaller than organisers anticipated, however partly for that reason, the vibe was great - but the day didn’t go without its glitches.

The day felt local and homegrown, which was nice – there wasn’t a hint of the corporate odor that makes so many other festivals seem so non-independent and commercial. The weather gods blessed us with warm weather - though that sea breeze turned to wind and man, did it bring a bite with it!

Evolve was different – during the daylight hours (gates opened at midday) it had more of a carnival/fete family vibe – lots of kids scrambling around, families and young couples sussing out the local artists classical-style arts - opera and ballet.

When the sun went down, the fairy lights came on and the vibe was very "chillaxed". A multi-stage event like this must take an incredible amount of work, unselfishly put in out of a love for art in all its forms.

So the day was a mixed bag: one minute, I was swaying to the classical sounds from the Song Company, then I was observing a local resident painting a band live, as they played, then I saw a Classical String Quartet, then I found myself rolling in the grass to a stand-up comedy show and then I was dancing away to a funky high-energy drumming act and chilling on the grass opposite Tex Perkins.

The line-up was huge: some artists travelled from as far as Paris and Canada to perform for rather small (but uniquely personal) crowds at the event – big names like RonanRonan, The Groovelands Sound System, Space Cowboy, Tigerlil, Tecoma and The Song Company.

And finally, there was Tex. Tex Perkins (pictured) played a gorgeous, very low-key headlining gig, imbued with such vitality and beauty – the highlight of the day for me.

See some photos:

Posted: Monday October 6, 2008

Published: Oct 6, 2008 7:29pm by philippa.

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