Gathering Of The Vibes | 07.23-26 | CT
Gathering of the Vibes :: 07.23.09 – 07.26.09 :: Seaside Park :: Bridgeport, CT
Throughout the course of the weekend, as an array of artists from genres of all kinds performed sets to an enthusiastic crowd, whenever folks were asked about the highlight of the weekend, it was always about the people, the place and the “vibes.”
Bryan Byrne of Cambridge, Massachusetts said his highlight was just “drinking beers, watching people, enjoying bands and just being here.” It was his second year coming to the Vibes and he said, “I would have come regardless of who’s playing. I don’t know a lot of the bands. I just come here for the atmosphere.”
Although the event has changed locations several times over its 14 year history, Vibes returned to Bridgeport, Connecticut’s Seaside Park for the third year in a row. Many in attendance categorized Bridgeport as “ghetto,” and based on the shotgun shells washed up on the park’s ocean shore they weren’t far off. But even though the park is not known for being safe past dark, for the four days out of the year that Gathering Of The Vibes takes over the Deadhead mentality makes the public park a place that even a Virginia-based grandmother feels comfortable taking her granddaughter to.
Josh Schroder is a Bridgeport local who came to Vibes for the first time this year and he seemed to appreciate the influence GOTV had on his community. “The funniest thing about it all is here we are in the middle of the hood, unbeknownst to everybody, and this is not really where you want to hang out normally, but right now this is the place to fucking be. Bridgeport isn’t a place you’d want to raise a family or anything, but then you have this festival and what can you say?”
Fortunately, the rain let up in time for a late night performance on the Green Vibes Stage from The Machine, a Pink Floyd tribute band that was considered by many to be the best set of the day. This was the first year to feature the Green Vibes Stage, and throughout the weekend it hosted late night sets that proved to be among the most memorable of the weekend. Unlike Dark Star, who strives for authenticity, The Machine take subtle creative license with Floyd’s material, where songs like “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” and “Time” had audible differences from the studio versions. The set’s highlight was a version of “Pigs (three different ones)” that let frontman Joe Pascarell truly shine. Nailing the vocal style of Roger Waters and the guitar tone of David Gilmour, Pascarell went nuts on the talkbox guitar solo, making crazed faces that brought to mind Floyd’s mad founder, Syd Barrett.
Continue reading for Friday’s coverage of GOTV…
Keller classic “Freaker By The Speaker” had people dancing hard, and Phish‘s “Birds Of A Feather” provided one of the groovier covers of the weekend. When asked about the differences between a MDS performance and a solo slot, Keller said, “It’s a totally different thing. I learned a long time ago that it’s impossible to please everyone. So, the most important thing in my world is to be happy and I’m happy on stage, and hopefully that comes across to the audience.” He added, “We [MDS] haven’t played since January. We’ve rehearsed but there’s this un-jaded vibe that we’re all bringing and we’re excited to play and listen to each other.”
From up close or afar, it was clear that Deep Banana Blackout‘s set had everybody in front of the stage dancing their collective asses off. The GOTV regulars have earned quite a reputation over the years and they didn’t disappoint. Carolanne McDowen of Worcester, Mass told JamBase that last year Deep Banana Blackout was one of the bands she went home having gained a new appreciation for, and this year they proved to be another highlight.
Fortunately for all those who still had a funky monkey on their back, Lettuce brought the nitty-gritty grooves to the Green Vibes Tent for a late night show that made it impossible to stand still. With Eric Krasno and Neal Evans of Soulive fame on guitar and keys, Brotherhood Of Groove‘s Sam Kininger on sax and producer/drummer extraordinaire Adam Deitch on skins, to name a few, the stage was a who’s who of the neo-funk scene, and for a few hours, when most decent people were asleep in their tents, the hardest partiers were dancing their hearts and souls out to what had to have been the funkiest spot on the face of the earth for that short period of time.
Continue reading for Saturday’s coverage of GOTV…
For as many folks tuned in, turned on and dropped out, there was one group of music loving attendees who were entirely on the ball. The Clean Vibes crew proved to be one of the greatest sources of pride Gathering Of The Vibes has to show the world. Kids from all backgrounds came to the event for the music, but throughout the course of the weekend “trash talking” volunteers directed people to dispose of their waste in the proper can, collected trash from the field and sorted out compost, landfill and recyclables with an on-the-radar presence that outdid their work at other festivals. Even Wavy Gravy noted the effort, saying, “For most of these people this is not their first festival. From one vibe to the next, they know the drill – they pick up the trash. There is an enormous effort to recycle, and you don’t see that at most shows.”
Bridgeport native Josh Schroder cited Big Moon‘s Saturday slot on the Green Vibes Stage as a weekend highlight. “The singer owns one of my favorite bars, Acoustic Cafe on Fairfield Avenue. There’s folks from all over the place. You’re from Boston, everyone is from all over, and to get people I know personally represented on the national scale is very cool.”
State Radio canceled their performance the day of the event, and the promoters opted to allow all of the Saturday performers to have some extra time, rather than scramble to fill the void. And it was Guster, the band on the bill most likely to share their fan-base, that helped us forget all about State Radio with a nice taste of feel good rock. Guster seemed like one of the most unusual acts on the bill given their popularity with a mainstream, teenage demographic, but they synced up with the crowd better than a great deal of the “groovier” acts on the bill. They engaged the audience with spot-on banter and played on festival characters we’d all come across, and after an anti-encore tirade, citing the tradition as the lamest in the concert circuit, the group wrapped up on a positive note with their most well known single, “Fa Fa.”
For a festival that’s built itself around the community of The Grateful Dead, Bob Weir’s Saturday night slot was considered by many to be one of the most anticipated performances of the weekend. Joanna Trossbach of Richmond, Virginia saw him three times in nine days this year and thought that this set was better than the rest, and especially appreciated his help during Levon Helm’s performance. He opened with the appropriate “Festival” (which hadn’t been played since 8/24/2006 – 175 shows) and followed up with a solid “Jack Straw” that pulled in anybody who wasn’t already drinking the Kool-Aid. It was a mellower performance, and one attendee was overheard saying, “Bobby must have taken a Xanax tonight,” but a cover of “Iko Iko” that flowed right into “Drums” kept the evening’s pace mellow, yes, but consistent and coherent. A predictable “One More Saturday Night” closed the set, followed by an encore of “Ripple,” the former and latter featuring Vibes All Star Donna Jean on vocals. The setlist could have been better and the energy could have been higher, but having been on the road the past few months Weir sounded rehearsed and the instrumental components of the set were rather tight, and with folks trashing his previous appearance at the Vibes there was a sense of redemption in his show.
Continue reading for Sunday’s coverage of GOTV…
Grace Potter is one of the most promising up-and-coming female vocalists around, and you can tell by her stage presence that she’s well aware. Her beauty complements her talent, and her confident-not-cocky mentality always goes over well. Somber ballads like “Great White Gate” and “Apologies” gave the crowd something to sway with, and tunes like “Stop The Bus” and “Ah Mary” gave her fans something to rock out to. After telling the audience about her first Vibes experience as a 15-year-old Vermont native, she continued her set, trading off between an electric organ and a Flying V electric guitar, as she belted her way through covers of “Come On In My Kitchen,” a Robert Johnson nugget she picked up on the road with Gov’t Mule, and Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.” The set concluded with a powerhouse “Nothing But The Water” that more than anything was a vehicle for Potter to display the full force of her vocal chords. She literally squealed like a schoolgirl as she hit the high notes before bringing the set to a close on a synchronized, hard hitting note, strummed over and over before a sudden halt.
As the clouds grew gray and thick, folks were hoping weather would play nice until Crosby Stills & Nash finished the final set of the weekend. For as much condescending criticism can be written about geriatric rockers from the ’60s trying to cash in on dated material, CSN, more than most of their peers, have held onto the magic that made them what they are. The sharp, precise melodies they trademarked were spot-on, and the fest’s final performance was by far one of the weekend’s best, at least for those left to witness it. Opening with “Love The One Your With” got everyone singing along, and they followed up with songs like “Lady Stardust” and a “Déjà Vu” that featured some fresh instrumental rearranging. Add to that “Helplessly Hoping” and they made their mark on the audience before they had really gotten started. Choice covers of The Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday” and Bob Dylan’s “Girl From North Country” demonstrated the effort that went into putting the setlist together, and segueing from “Moonlit World” into Joe Walsh’s “Rocky Mountain Way” did nothing more than underscore the above sentiment.
If you’re thinking this review seems overly positive that’s because it is. RatDog may have been slow. moe. getting cut off early was a disappointment to many. State Radio dissed the crowd without much of an explanation, and it would have been great to hear Levon Helm’s voice had he been feeling better, but with Gathering Of The Vibes the performances themselves are just one component of a weekend that is more than anything about vibes. Keller said it best: “It’s a fantastic vibe, hence the name.”
And whether it came to the interactions amongst staff and patrons, performers and attendees, locals and visitors or campers and their neighbors, the feel good climate that has characterized Gathering Of The Vibes over the years was fully intact, perhaps more than ever, and it’s that Vibe that keeps drawing the same crowd back to the same event year after year.
You’re not going to see Phish and Bruce Springsteen make history at the Vibes, and you’re unlikely to see any big name reunion take place like Coachella has done so many times in the past. GOTV has found their niche, knows their audience and masterfully executed a weekend of great music, solid campground logistics and a communal atmosphere that fostered various bonds and connections that attendees will dwell on long after their ears stop ringing.
Continue reading for more pics of GOTV 2009…
|Donna Jean Godchaux|
|Dark Star Orchestra|
|Allie Kral – Cornmeal|
|King For A Day|
|Keith Moseley with Keller & MDS|
|Deep Banana Blackout|
|Eric Krasno – Lettuce|
|Neal Evans – Lettuce|
|Al Schnier – moe.|
|Reid Genauer & Assembly of Dust|
|Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band|
|Pimps of Joytime|
|Scott Murawski – Max Creek|
|Bob Weir & RatDog|
|John Brown’s Body|
|Grace Potter and the Nocturnals|
|Harlem Gospel Choir|
|Stephen Stills – CSN|
Continue reading for more pics of GOTV 2009…
|Bob Weir & RatDog|
Continue reading for even more pics of GOTV 2009…
|Reid Genauer and the Assembly of Dust|
|Ryan Montbleau Band|
|Bob Weir with Levon Helm|
|Bob Weir & RatDog|
|David Crosby – CSN|
|Wavy Gravy & Levon Helm|
|Wavy Gravy & Levon Helm|
JamBase | Gathered
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