Words by: Stu Kelly
Gathering Of The Vibes :: 8.3.14 :: Seaside Park :: Bridgeport, CT
Gathering of the Vibes is the rare festival that features a pulsating community centered on live music with plenty of intrinsic beauty. There’s so much going on at Vibes that if you slow down, even briefly, you’re bound to miss something right around the corner that will take your breath away. Vibes is a place where people can get involved in various activities, walk along the beach, step outside of their comfort zone safely and discover a true meaning to happiness. The overall messages are to spread peace and love without discrimination, take only memories and leave only footprints behind. It’s one of the most beautiful places where fans can find themselves and get lost at the same time.
Sunday at Gathering Of The Vibes -held at Seaside Park in Bridgeport, CT -featured an abundance of great talent that closed out the amazing weekend with conviction, including fantastic performances from reggae icon Ziggy Marley, jam band veterans moe., funk legend Maceo Parker and a heavy set full of collaborations from Dispatch. As Sunday rolled on there were still a plethora of people who stayed to the very end of the weekend, eager to soak up and experience all they could before the book closed on Vibes ’14. Since there was no option to camp on Sunday night, fans were faced with the dilemma of when to strike down their campsite. Either beat the traffic and miss some music during the day, or ride it out to the end and battle the masses. By 4 p.m. it was clear that the line was divided right down the middle as the campsites became sporadically half-occupied.
One of the longest running traditions at Vibes is the World Peace Prayer Ceremony, which took place at the main stage around 11:45 a.m. The World Peace Prayer Ceremony is a global celebration of life that looks past religious background, ethnic boundaries and other forms of restricting anthropology with the hopes of unifying the world under one global idea of peace. This unifying celebration was witnessed by an early crowd, who stuck around to catch Maceo Parker just after noon. Boasting an extensive resume of supporting James Brown (where Parker got his start), George Clinton and Prince, Parker is the living, breathing pulse who connects funk music to contemporary sub-genres. The lively crowd was full of energy, which especially shined through when Maceo’s backing band would dance and sway to the music. There were some notable covers mixed into Parker’s set including a soothing version of “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye. The performance hit its peak when Parker dropped into The J.B.’s “Pass the Peas.” Maceo warmed up the crowd with a vocal interlude before he powered through “Pass the Peas” with a deep driving force.
The Green Vibes Stage featured a lot of stellar talent as the day continued to move forward including Donna The Buffalo and McLovins. The McLovins first played GOTV in 2009, when the band became internet sensations after a basement performance of Phish’s “You Enjoy Myself” went viral on YouTube, skyrocketing them to national attention and even giving them a chance to work with Phish lyricist Tom Marshall as a producer for their single “Cohesive.” A sizable group of fans was in attendance as the band powered through their set. Atticus Kelly even teased OutKast’s “So Fresh, So Clean” on the keys, which was met with positive reciprocation from the crowd.
Over at the main stage, renowned progressive jam-rockers moe. took the stage and wasted no time whiplashing the crowd into a frenzy with the playful sequence of “Tailspin” > “Hi and Lo” > “Little Miss Cup Half Empty.” With a remarkable career that’s touched three decades and pumped out 24 albums, moe. continues to push the envelope in the live setting as they have become one of the most dynamic and powerfully progressive rock and roll bands in the jam community. Celebrating the release of their new album, No Guts, No Glory, moe. delivered a stellar back-to-back combination of new material with “Billy Goat” followed by “Same Old Story” off the LP. Both of these numbers saw impressive improvisation as the songs continue to become integral parts of moe.’s repertoire.
Guitarists Chuck Garvey and Al Schnier have an outstanding musical bond that fuel a lot of interesting improvisation. Deeply embedded in a sub-genre where power, noise, speed and energy dominate the music, it’s impressive that Garvey and Schnier are able to intertwine their collaboration effortlessly instead of stepping on each other’s toes. Rob Derhak anchors this sort of telepathic, musical ability on the bass, as he hammers down with authority, dominating the low notes and filling the pockets with rich funk. As the band moved through their set, they kept the energy high and the crowd invested. An spot-on segue between “Buster” and “Do or Die,” showcased the band’s adept ability to take full control of their music and not get lost during their musical exploration. The highlight of their set came as the band closed out with an astonishing “Wind It Up” > “Crab Eyes” segment, two classic staples from the band’s repertoire. “Wind It Up” featured nice work from Jim Loughlin on the xylophone, an instrument that’s unique to moe.’s sound and extremely rare to find in the jam community. During “Crab Eyes,” Chuck Garvey utilized his talk box,similar to what Peter Frampton uses for “Do You Feel Like I Do?”, and Al Schnier ripped up a piercing solo where he walked out to the very skirt of the stage and stood on top of a stack of speakers. Leaning over the crowd, Schnier let it all hang out as the band left the crowd satisfied and pumped up.
As the musical festivities continued to unfold at the main stage, Ziggy Marley was gearing up to make his debut appearance at GOTV. Marley opened up with one of his beloved staples, “Love is My Religion,” which inspired a utopian feeling of freedom and unison. Ziggy does a great job of preserving his father’s legacy and incorporates Bob’s songs into his set without letting them become too much of a distraction away from his solo work. Such notable Bob staples as “Is This Love,” “One Love” and “Could You Be Loved?” all surfaced during his set. Currently, Ziggy is touring in support of his most recent studio effort, Fly Rasta, which was released in April. His new music was rather impressive and such songs as “I Get Up” and “I Don’t Want to Live On Mars” fit in beautifully with the rest of the material he presented.
With the sun beginning to set, it was time for Dispatch to close out this year’s Gathering Of The Vibes on the main stage. One of the most versatile bands to come out of the ’90s, Dispatch experiments with a wide-range of musical genres so much that to try to classify them into a specific genre would be a disservice to the band and their abilities. Each member puts an important twist on the band’s overall sound and they pack a significant punch for only being a trio. However, armed with three vocalists, who are all multi-instrumentalists in their own regard, there aren’t any musical restrictions that this band couldn’t triumphantly overcome.
Dispatch kicked off their set with “Out Loud,” which inspired a sea of fans to sing-a-long to the classic song. The band was feeling the energy and they incorporated a nice “Mrs. Robinson” tease into the opening song, complete with a nice drum solo by Brad Corrigan. After a reprise of “Out Loud” came back around to complete the song, the trio then lit into the opening chords of “Bats in the Belfry,” which was nicely welcomed by an energetic response from the enthusiastic crowd. “Here We Go” surfaced next and as the band climaxed into the first chorus, eight flags dropped behind the group on stage that spelled out “Dispatch.” This particular version also featured Darian Cunning sitting in on guitar. The band then addressed the crowd and explained how happy they were to be at Vibes, especially since they were just coming from a gig in Nantucket that was plagued by a huge rainstorm. Dispatch subsequently delivered a nice rendition of “Open Up” > “Bang Bang,” which was fitting since the festival grounds sat on the beach. During the musical interlude of “Bang Bang,” Dispatch surprisingly tipped their hat to the Grateful Dead when they dedicated “Friend Of The Devil” to Wavy Gravy. Pete Francis even teased “Eyes of the World” quickly as “Bang Bang” faded out and came to a close.
Brad Corrigan put on Wavy Gravy’s red costume nose for the next song as the band went into “Lightning” next. This mellow and laid-back ballad showcases a more soft and subtle touch to the band’s musical approach. The cool-down number acted as a nice stepping-stone to tie the set together. Connecticut local Stephen Kellogg sat-in on “Two Coins,” where he stepped up and handled the lead vocal responsibilities as well as laid down an impressive harmonica solo.
Stanley Jordan sat in for a great rendition of “Passerby” in which he provided his intricate guitar-picking style to the slow ballad. Jordan’s guitar work lifted the crowd to peaks of musical appreciation, as he never ceased to amaze the fans all weekend long. The set took an interesting turn when the band used a more acoustic approach to some of the songs off their debut album, Silent Steeples. “Flying Horses” surfaced and featured Corrigan at the skirt of the center stage, where a small djembe and bongos were set up. The band kept to their roots as they performed one of their most beloved song “Elias,” a truly moving and inspirational song with Zimbabwean influences. Chad Urmston wrote “Elias” about his experiences living and teaching in Zimbabwe. The song has also gone on to inspire the name of a non-profit organization called The Elias Fund, which aims to provide hope and opportunity to Zimbabwean youth through community development and education. Dispatch closed out their set with raw energy as they invited The Funky Dawgs, another local Connecticut band, for “The General.” The Funky Dawgs have been hanging out all weekend after their set on Thursday and they could be found playing renegade sets by the vendors or at the back of the main lawn. Together, the two bands pumped energy though the crowd as “The General” is one of Dispatch’s most beloved and recognizable songs. The trio came back to encore with “Mission” to close out an incredible weekend of live music. As the house music came on, Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” served as most fitting walk out music.
The 2014 Gathering of the Vibes Music and Arts Festival may be finished, but the overall messages of love, peace and unity will continue to be felt by attendees all year long until fans are reunited at next year’s event. GOTV is an absolutely beautiful and premier live music experience that’s not to be missed. Hopefully, we can expect this wonderful festival to continue to thrive and flourish for many more years to come. As new generations of fans come of age to appreciate the musical legacy of the Grateful Dead, Gathering of the Vibes will continue to serve as the perfect celebration of love and life while ultimately protecting such a sacred legacy.
JamBase | Best Vibes
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