Review & Photos | Gathering Of The Vibes | Saturday
Words by: Stu Kelly
Gathering Of The Vibes :: 8.2.14 :: 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 Grateful Dead.
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 ground.
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 Vibes Stage and kicked off the late night jams. The digital, yet analog form, of DTM’s sound produces a 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 Universe 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 has to 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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