The Vibe Tribe began to arrive as the sounds of Love Canon, indie rockers White Denim and Rusted Root wafted over Thursday’s crowd settling in for night one of the 19th Gathering of the Vibes at Bridgeport, CT’s Seaside Park. The evening picked up with Strangefolk’s main stage performance and shifted into third gear with the ever-present Dark Star Orchestra before riding deep into the morning with Dopapod’s impressive late night set on the Green Vibes stage featuring guest appearances from Todd Stoops & Adrian Tramontano (keyboards, drums/Kung Fu & RAQ) as well as artist-at-large virtuoso air-tapping guitarist Stanley Jordan.
Day two awoke to an impressive turnout for Twiddle’s early but enjoyable 11:00am set. However Trombone Shorty & Orleans Ave was the ultimate alarm clock for many. Their infectious brassy rhythms could wake the dead and make them dance. Meanwhile, American Babies brought their Americana jam rock to the Green Vibes stage before Nahko and Medicine for the People’s mystic revival leading up to a night of headliner hits on the main stage.
Slightly Stoopid (feat. Karl Denson, saxophone) brought their mellow 90’s West Coast reggae style to the beach in Bridgeport, and then the mythological John Fogerty took to the stage. Fogerty shone with an effortless and charismatic delivery of everyone’s favorite Creedence anthems peppered with a couple jokes; it was great. Next, Lotus (feat. Gabriel Otto, vocals) slammed a set of Talking Heads covers with a few originals mixed in. Overall it was very well done, however apparent that they’d rehearsed The Talking Heads’ material at the expense of their own. Late night at Green Vibes showcased a ferocious performance by the incredibly high energy Deep Banana Blackout who set the stage for psychedelic EDM duo EOTO to top off the night.
There was something for everyone on day three. Kung Fu’s power funk brought the afternoon to an early high before an unforgettably passionate performance by Rodrigo y Gabriela. Next, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros kind of weirded everyone out – but in a great way. Their psychedelic folk jams are rarely the same twice and never stop. Front man Alex Ebert, prone to off-stage wandering and strangeness, stopped to hear a touching story from an emotional young woman in the audience. Truthfully it didn’t take away from their show, which carries the ambience of a merry woodland retreat to the 60’s with marching protest beats, Beatles-esque tones and sometimes Dylan-ish stream of consciousness lyrics. Then, totally changing gears, Umphrey’s McGee took the stage playing through an mélange of their more pop-oriented tracks as well as low down and dirty grooves, highlighted by a mostly successful shot at covering Tool’s “46 & 2.” Instrumentally it was wonderful, but Umphrey’s can’t offer up a vocalist to fill Maynard Keenan’s shoes, and only Tool purists were disappointed. It still rocked.
At the Green Vibes stage, Langhorne Slim & the Law put on something of an impressive indie-western-comedy show but Dumpstaphunk really put on the best show of Saturday’s Green Vibes lineup. Between their ancient funk pedigree and the fact that it was bombshell drummer Nikki Glaspie’s (Beyonce, Kanye West, Jay-Z) last Dumpstaphunk performance before moving on full-time to The Nth Degree, they absolutely killed it.
Later, at the main stage, Widespread Panic rocked some classics as the moon rose and everyone began to get excited for the much-anticipated “Grateful Biscuits” set. After some technical delay which many joked was just for dramatic effect, the Disco Biscuits came on with an energetic “Story of the World” to start and also nailed a cover of James Brown’s “I Don’t Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing” with New Haven vocal talent Greg Sherrod before The Grateful Dead drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzman joined them for a hit series of Dead greats before finishing with TDB’s I-Man, followed by an encore choral interpretation of The Dead’s “And We Bid You Goodnight.” But the party wasn’t over yet. Digital Tape Machine graced the Green Vibes stage late night with masterful electro-jam beats that kept everyone dancing before Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe elated and annihilated the late night crowd with some seriously groove-driven brassy dance beats.
Day four opened its eyes to Maceo Parker, McLovins, and Moe. Some people went nuts for Moe. Some people took a nap. Everybody was completely pumped for Grammy award-winning Ziggy Marley, eldest son of legends Bob & Rita Marley. His performance was flawless, playing his many of his father’s classics mixed in with content from his new album, Fly Rasta. Maybe the most jovial set of the weekend, Marley and his band literally took turns jumping and dancing around the stage – all smiles, every last one of them. Finally Dispatch wrapped up the weekend’s main stage festivities including an appearance from yet another CT talent, Black Rock’s Darian Cunning, for “Here We Go.” Many were surprised to hear Dispatch’s Pete Francis also grew up in Connecticut. Seaside shimmered with local-love and one sentiment synonymous with Gathering of the Vibes proliferated: it’s all in the family.
Written by Pete DeStefano | OurVinyl Contributor