Conventional wisdom might suggest “Big Easy Express” is too short and/or specialized to merit even limited theatrical release. But judging from the reaction at the SXSW Film Festival, where the pic copped an audience award, this latest music docu by helmer Emmett Malloy (“The White Stripes Under Great Northern Lights”) is quite capable of rousing ticketbuyers to spontaneously clap their hands, sway in seats and dance in aisles. An infectiously joyful account of a whistle-stop tour by three appealing folk-pop ensembles, “Express” is an experience that should be shared communally before homevid rollout.
Fluidly lensed docu follows three indie bands — Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Tennessee’s Old Crow Medicine Show and Britain’s Mumford & Sons — as they team for a 2011 tour, traveling to six cities, from Oakland to New Orleans, aboard an antique train. There’s a minimum of drama onboard, the musicmakers having evidently formed a journey-long mutual admiration society, and an abundance of high spirits during every performance (a la 2003’s “Festival Express”). Indeed, Magnetic Zeros singer Alex Ebert occasionally appears possessed by Pentecostal fervor as he hops about barefoot onstage, to the delight of cheering crowds.