When parenthood meets indie rock

Silver Mt. Zion documentary Come Worry With Us! is more of a lo-fi tour doc than a meditation on art vs. parenthood.

Come Worry With Us!

Being a working musician in 2014 doesn’t mean the same thing as it did in 1974. Touring these days, for most bands, means constant labour for middle-class wages; few are those who can hand off the baby to the nanny so they can go on a month-long coke binge with Don Henley in Malta.

posterIt’s what the 2011 punks-turned-papas doc The Other F Word explored semi-convincingly and it’s what’s at the centre of Helene Klodawsky’s Come Worry With Us!. While it takes the form of a tour documentary following Montreal post-rock group Thee Silver Mt. Zion Orchestra, Come Worry With Us! is really about the crossroads that violinist Jessica Moss found herself at after the birth of her son Ezra.

Ezra’s father is Efrim Menuck, frontman of the band and also a member of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. His constant gigs as a touring musician put food on the table, but they also leave Moss alone with Ezra all the time, and she begins to wonder if it isn’t time to pack it in. They decide to go on a 20-date tour of America with Ezra in tow to see if the touring lifestyle is still feasible.

Klodawsky peppers the film with performance footage, cellphone videos (including a couple shot in the dreaded vertical mode and archival photographs, but the majority of the film is seen through fly-on-the-wall footage of Jessica, Efrim and Ezra on the tour bus. These have a nice rough-hewn quality to them (and Ezra, as you probably guessed, is very cute), but the film works better as a lo-fi tour diary than it does as a meditation on art vs. parenthood.

silverPart of that has to do with the relative lack of a natural arc to the proceedings, which I’ll concede is an unfortunate by-product of filming reality. The film doesn’t really work towards any kind of big reveal or catharsis, which makes some of the sequences feel repetitive and some of Moss’s sit-down conversations with other musician mothers (including Natalia Yanchak of the Dears and Julie Doiron) feel tacked on. It’s an interesting and rarely explored topic that floats within a familiar “we-live-out-of-suitcases” tour documentary and unfortunately gets a little muddled.

Fans will find plenty to chew on in the documentary and there are real sweet and beautiful moments contained throughout. But like a lot of music documentaries that are structured differently than a biographical Behind the Music episode, it could probably lose half an hour and still make all of its points in an equally convincing manner. Come Worry With Us! seems like it’s going to be most useful to its three subjects years down the line — a beautifully shot home movie to commemorate the time they brought their kid on tour. ■

Come Worry With Us! is playing at Cinéma du Parc (3575 Parc), May 16 and 17 at 9:15 p.m. and Sunday, May 18 at 3 p.m., $11.50