Images by: Adam McCullough
Words by: Stu Kelly
Gathering Of The Vibes ::
Seaside Park :: Bridgeport, CT
Read Stu's thoughts on Saturday at Vibes after the gallery.
Gathering of the Vibes
continued on Saturday at Seaside Park in Bridgeport, CT unifying a loving community of
diverse fans who were still glowing from the incredible musical success of the event's
first two days. Luckily, fans were able to avoid the much anticipated torrential downpour
during the day as it only rained very early Saturday morning. The rain was nice as it
brought down the early morning temperatures, which gave festivalgoers a chance to sleep in
by the time music was scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Seaside Park is a stunning, elegant
venue and the walk over to the Green Vibes Stage from camping was absolutely gorgeous.
Amidst towering trees and staring out into the water of the Bridgeport Harbor, the sound
of the Green Vibes Stage P.A. could be heard crashing down from a distance as fans
gathered in numbers to take on the full day of music.
The Main Squeeze opened the Green Vibes Stage, where they brought their raging funk
experience to a sea of excited attendees bringing their raging funk experience to a
collective sea of excited fans. Having only formed in 2009, The Main Squeeze have made
monumental strides and honed their musical craft successfully by developing a unique
sound. On stage the band seems to be loose and having fun, yet still firmly in control.
The Chicago-based band opened with “Devil Was an Angel,” off their debut self-titled
album, and wasted no time slamming into a thick funky groove. Moving through their
catalog, staples such as “Mixed Up, “In A Funk,” “Message to the Lonely,” and “Mama Told
Me” all surfaced to help build their set. The Main Squeeze tipped their hat to the band
that started what we're celebrating this weekend by covering “Eyes of the World” by the
Over on the main stage, local favorites Kung Fu triumphantly returned to Vibes and
wasted no time engaging the crowd. Rob Somerville pledged to fans that there was nothing
in this world too important to prevent them from having a good time that day. Kung Fu are
still riding the success of their most recent studio effort, Tsar Bomba, so it was
nice to see them return to such a large spotlight armed with plenty of fresh material. The
quintet fuses contemporary funk and rock and puts an interesting twist of sensible EDM
influences into their live performances. Somerville flexed his range on the tenor sax
during Kung Fu's "Do The Right Thing" opener. The crowd was still forming right as the
band went into their most recognizable hit, “Hollywood Kisses.” Bassist Chris DeAngelis
shined on "Hollywood Kisses," as he popped his bass strings and created a pocket groove
for guitarist Tim Palmieri and keyboardist Todd Stoops to impressively blend their
respective instrument’s sound into the song. The band was locked in and firing on all
cylinders when they dropped into a blazing rendition of a new song called “Chin Music,”
which is expected to be released on the Kung Fu's upcoming third studio album.
Guitarist Stanley Jordan sat in for “Tambura” and flawlessly found his niche
alongside Palmieri. Jordan’s inventive musical style and intricate finger-tapping
techniques made for him to be the perfect Artist-at-Large for GOTV as his style of playing
fits well within a multitude of different genres. Kung Fu closed out their set with “Gung
Ho,” which kept the energy high and left a blissful crowd behind.
The main stage was extremely consistent on Saturday and whoever was in charge of
scheduling the lineup should be applauded for the layout of the day's scheduled.
Leftover Salmon played a set featuring Bill Payne from Little Feat on keys.
Appropriately, the jam legends and their guest treated the crowd to several Little Feat
favorites such as “Oh! Atlanta” and “Dixie Chicken.” Leftover Salmon are currently
celebrating over 25 years as a band, having formed in 1989 in Boulder and were one of the
first bluegrass bands to incorporate a drummer into the traditional bluegrass sound.
Rodrigo y Gabriela graced the main stage next and this marked the duo’s debut
appearance at GOTV. The band constructed their set to include plenty of new material off
their most recent album, 9 Dead Alive. Gabriela Quintero was especially vocal,
thanking the crowd repetitively and expressing how excited both of her and Rodrigo Sanchez
were to be at the festival. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros took the main
stage next. During the production change over, beloved Grateful Dead iconic fan and
festival MC, Wavy Gravy, took a microphone and entertained the crowd. Gravy’s story
consisted of a bear who lived in a bathroom that had to perch on the shower rail because a
pipe had burst and flooded the floor - which quickly dissolved into another story equally
indistinct but just as much entertaining, to say the least. Sharpe played a set that
catered to the fans, as he often let the people in the front row call out the next song.
Back over on the Green Vibes Stage, Dumpstaphunk brought their New Orleans flavor
back to the long-running festival. As previously reported, Nikki Glaspie has confirmed that she will be
departing Dumpstaphunk in order to focus on her new endeavor, The Nth Power.
Dumpstaphunk’s set at GOTV comes full circle for Glaspie, as she was initiated into the
band in 2011 at this same festival at the same location. Previous to that, Glaspie had
been backed Beyonce on several world tours. Her musical resume is extensive to say the
least, so it was nice to see her with Dumpstaphunk before she moves on to new musical
The crowd swarmed over at the main stage, where they anxiously anticipated Umphrey’s
McGee. UM are experiencing a new wave of success as they continue to develop their
improvisation and take their live show to brand-new levels. The band seems to have been on
a steady rise for years, both in terms of their music and the growth of their fanbase, are
are showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Umphrey's recently released a new
studio album, Similar Skin, the first album on their own record label, Nothing Too
Fancy Music. Flourishing in the recent success of the new album, it was no surprise to see
the band open up with the one-two punch of “Cut the Cable” > “Puppet String” off the new
LP. Bassist Ryan Stasik was in fine form right out of the gates and kept the energy high
for the first two songs. Guitarist Jake Cinninger stepped up to the spotlight as crowd
sing-a-long favorite “Women, Wine & Song” surfaced next. This particular version included
a rare extended burst of improvisation featuring legendary drummer Kenwood Dennard,
who sat in on the second half of the song. UM continued through their set with a stellar
“1348” > “Hourglass” > “1348” sequence, which landed nicely into “Phil’s Farm.” Stanley
Jordan graced the stage for “Hajimemashite” and found himself trading jaw-dropping licks
with Cinninger. The band closed out the show with a great cover of Tool’s “46 & 2” that
featured outstanding lead vocals from drummer Kris Myers.
It's hard to believe that Georgia rockers Widespread Panic had never performed at
Gathering Of The Vibes over the past 18 years, yet Widespread Panic brought their
Southern-fueled rock to Vibes for the first time in the band’s extensive career on
Saturday night. The crowd was especially frenzied after Umphrey's set and most seemed
excited to see the rest of the night’s headlining festivities. Panic opened up with “Tall
Boy” > “Climb to Safety,” which are two great songs to serve as an introduction to
potential new fans. The beloved J.J. Cale cover, “Travelin’ Light,” surfaced next and
bassist Dave Schools kept a funky bouncing groove consistent throughout the song. “Give” >
“Worry” found the band dipping into their catalog a little bit deeper and both of those
numbers featured monumental peaks fueled by guitar guru Jimmy Herring.
One of the evening's biggest surprises came when Col. Bruce Hampton sat in with the
band next for a well-played cover of “Fixin’ to Die.” “Good People” > “Maggot Brain”
showcased mesmerizing improvisation from the band as they really stretched the two songs
out well beyond their recognizable dimensions. Panic went into “Chilly Water” next, one of
their most recognizable songs that never ceases to ignite an eruption of water and other
beverages being tossed in the air during the chorus. The band's comfort on stage was clear
throughout a playful “Driving Song” > “Cotton Was King” > “Ride Me High” > “Driving Song”
sequence. “Ride Me High” is another beloved J.J. Cale cover that the band has adopted and
thrown a twist of their own style towards. Keyboardist JoJo Hermann stepped up and handled
lead vocals that were complimented nicely by guitarist John Bell and Schools' harmony
vocals. The Georgia rockers closed out their set, which ran a little longer than
scheduled, with “Flicker” > “Action Man.” For the encore, Panic paid tribute to their late
friend Vic Chesnutt with “Protein Drink" > "Sewing Machine.”
The Disco Biscuits closed out the main stage with legendary Grateful Dead drummers
Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, aka The Rhythm Devils. Bisco fused with
iconic rock and roll history was a treat to say the least. The Philadelphia-based band
opened up with “Story of the World,” played without their guests, which featured plenty of
improvisation that showcased stellar interplay between bassist Marc Brownstein and
keyboardist Aron Magner. The rhythm section moved forward together with conviction
throughout the jam before the band landed on “Home Again,” a classic staple in tDB's
repertoire. It wasn’t so much a question of “if” the band was going to cover the Grateful
Dead, but more of a question “when.” The band and their guests lifted off on “West L.A.
Fadaway,” where Jon "Barber" Gutwillig carried the lead vocal responsibilities. Bill,
Mickey and the Biscuits continued to pull from the Dead’s catalog as they delivered a
fantastic “I Know You Rider” > “Eyes of the World,” both of which featured Magner stepping
up to sing. After “Rider,” the band went into a drums and space jam that wound up
featuring Hart on a theremin before the rest of the band took form and smashed into a
“Shakedown Street” that was commanded by Barber.
The band closed out their set with the original “I-Man” off their 1998 album
Uncivilized Area. Barber was especially energetic as he bounced around the stage,
all smiles and notably happy with the work between these two additional drummers. The
encore was extremely special as a choir came out on stage and sang a beautiful version of
“And We Bid You Goodnight” that saw Barber stand out on the stage to conduct the choir.
Digital Tape Machine, featuring Joel and Kris from Umphrey’s, graced the Green
and kicked off the late night jams. The digital, yet analog form, of DTM’s sound produces
new wave of electronic music with modern characteristics that sound like they could be
taken right from a video game. The band was full of energy and kept the full-swinging
dance party rocking into the morning until just before 4 a.m. Karl Denson’s Tiny
closed out the Green Vibes Stage, where they played until almost 6 a.m., which proved that
Denson has the musical stamina of a true veteran. Denson has established himself as one of
the premier sax players, as he's stayed busy with various collaborations that span several
different genres. Earlier in the festival, Karl D. showed his versatility during a
performance with Slightly Stoopid.
Saturday was nothing short of a dream come true as the
community at Vibes continued to thrive and experience all of the beauty that the festival
offer. With notable runs from Umphrey’s McGee, Widespread Panic (including a sit in with
Col. Bruce Hampton) and The Disco Biscuits featuring Grateful Dead drummers Mickey Hart
and Bill Kreutzmann, Saturday at Gathering of the Vibes had the feel of a modern-day
H.O.R.D.E. The music will come to a close on Sunday with performances by moe., Ziggy
Marley, Allen Stone, Dispatch and many more great acts.
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