Gouveia Art Rock - 2003 (DVD)
The very first Gouveia Art Rock (GAR) Festival took place on 6th July 2003 at the Teatro-Cine de Gouveia in Portugal. The peaceful town of Gouveia is surrounded by beautiful countryside and the town itself steeped with landscaped gardens and ancient roads, Gouveia is probably not the first place that would spring to mind when looking for a location to hold an art rock event.
The relaxing atmosphere and general tranquillity of the scene coupled with what I would consider to be an absolute gem of a theatre go a long way to making this a special event.
2003 saw three bands take part; Saturnia (from Portugal), and headliners Nil (France) and La Maschera Di Cera (Italy). Luckily for us, the organisers of the event had the foresight to capture the the headliners on camera and release the results as this DVD under the watchful eye of project manager, Luís Loureiro. Luís is a member of the Gouveia Art Rock festival organization and producer of the DVD, but he also works as a news journalist on Portuguese public television. With the cameramen also being Portuguese TV professionals, the standard is high.
I had not seen either band before this DVD so it was a new experience. Nil, who signed to Unicorn Digital in May 2005 put on an impressive performance, one of the highlights being Samuel Maurin on stick for Dérives. La Maschera Di Cera complete the show with their Tull-ish flute and Grace (from the UK) type stage presence and are joined by Manuel Cardosa (Tantra) for the song Dal Caos.
In addition to the main feature, the two bands, there is some additional footage of the bands setting up, chatting with the fans and an amusing moment where someone (is it Luís?) takes to the stage to ask everyone to turn off their mobiles as his own mobile rings - I won't spoil the fun and tell you what the tune is but it is one I'll be adding to my phone very soon.
Although only lasting one day (or evening) this is an example of the sort of festival I would like to attend - friendly people, great, atmospheric, emotional, innovative, often complex progressive music in a relaxing location. Top marks.
Sound, though only stereo, is superb throughout. Picture quality is again excellent with only one or two minor momentary slip-ups that really go unnoticed and are to be expected and wholly acceptable on a live edit. Most of us should be able to appreciate the sort of costs involved in producing a professional DVD such as this so the omission of niceties such as Dolby and DTS soundtracks is understandable. To reiterate, the stereo sound is superb anyway.
The animated menu sections are very easy to navigate with options to play the entire feature or select either band or the additional footages. Song titles and composers subtly appear at the foot of the screen at the start of each track which is a nice touch. Closing credits for each set are matched to footage of that person on stage, which again is a nice touch.
The DVD is Region 0 PAL, 4:3, stereo sound, and is available now.
Anyone with a genuine love of progressive music should have this DVD in their collection. A lot of thought has gone into the production from the direction to the artwork and layout of the DVD. Though no guarantee it will be the same for you, I have watched this at least six times and am looking forward to finding time for the next viewing.
It is easy to feel involved whilst watching the DVD even down to the short 'glances' offered by the camera of some members of the audience deeply engrossed, much in the same way as one would glance around to determine how the show is going down. Sadly, this also shows that some of the seats remain empty of bodies, something which is all too common these days. But this was the first time this event had taken place and hopefully an event which will continue to take place year after year with ever increasing numbers attending.
The DVD can be purchased from the following outlets:
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