It’s Time to Defriend Evolvefest

Article by: Wesley Pinkham

Thu January 07, 2016 | 00:00 AM

Well, that got weird. And not the good kind of “where is this going because why the hell not” kind of weird, or the clowns in Lucent Dossier Experience start parading as half-naked goblins kind of weird.

No, over the last two years, Evolvefest producer David Bryson has weirded out all over the event's massive social media channels with a steady stream of overt, Christian, apocalyptical soapboxing. With tirades covering perceived enemies from every corner of society, the event has gone from a perennial stalwart for the East Coast Transformational Festival scene to something more resembling a Donald Trump rally.

It's a unique blend of conspiracy and paranoia, the kind that turns Uncles into embarrassments at Thanksgiving dinners.

But Mr. Bryson is skilled in the language and themes prevalent in Transformational Festival culture. And that’s what makes the spiritually predatory, holier-than-thou worldview almost pass for truth. However, his extreme affiliations and theories align the entire brand with an unsavory breed of hate organizations throughout the world. The festival’s brand is a hate rally wrapped in faux fur, LED lights and galaxy yoga pants.

New Age stalwart Ram Dass wrote, “just because you are seeing divine light, experiencing waves of bliss, or conversing with Gods and Goddesses is no reason to not know your zip code.” Similarly, Mr. Bryson has closed the Evolvefest gateway to positive community-building and forgotten the zip code of integration, shared values and tricksterdom. If anything, Mr. Bryson is just taking it all too seriously.

It would be scary if it weren't so sad.

Mr. Bryson sees any disagreement with his opinions as evidence of persecution. It's the fear of straight, white men losing control of the narrative of Western colonialism and it's the same fear behind many of today's hate crimes, anti-Federal armed militias, and domestic terrorists. It's clear that Mr. Bryson is suffering from any number of clinically diagnosable conditions.

A festival shouldn't be about the views of one producer. So much love and dedication went into creating years of a magical and safe container for tens of thousands of people. Evolvefest was, for many attendees, volunteers and staff, an event that shared their ideals and principles.

That's all in the past tense, now. The event was cancelled in 2015 and no venue, musicians or sponsors will come near a renewed attempt at an event in 2016 after the dust settles. Evolvefest’s old guard have been replaced with new alliances to religious fundamentalists.

Beyond urging Mr. Bryson's family and friends to get him help, the proper response to these psychopathologies is an amplification of community values.

Producers that create events under the Transformational Festival umbrella will need to think about whether they're succeeding in creating a safe place for dissent while still maintaining a healthy connection to reality. Where does one draw the line in conversations about GMOs, Chemtrails, Alien Ancestry and a Gay Zionist New World Order Plotting their Radical Sodomite Agenda?

As festivalgoers and ticketbuyers, we’ll need to think about who we’re supporting with our hard-earned time and money. Whether it’s large multi-national companies or small, boutique productions, as smart consumers, we need to do the research and understand the messages to which we’re subscribing.

The invitation to think differently and challenge pre-conceived notions in a Festival environment should continue, full steam ahead, with an emphasis on professionals who are respected in their own field: academics, humanists, religious leaders and scientists that bridge the gap between the grounded and the ethereal.

In the mean time, it’s time to cut ties with this strange vessel. You can share this article with your friends who like Evolvefest. And while you’re at it, let them know that you love them for who they are.