Over a hundred years ago, a scam artist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist named P.T. Barnum basically invented the circus, as we know it today. He wasn’t the first to combine such forms of entertainment into one show, but he was certainly the first to do it right, at least the show part. We’re talking 19th century travelling entertainment – dancing animals abused to hell, freak shows, fake natural anomalies like the infamous ‘mermaid girl,’ real natural anomalies like Tom Thumb – Barnum’s much loved little sidekick, and of course, trapeze artists. Later, Barnum tried his hand at politics, getting elected mayor of Bridgeport, CT. During his tenure in the city’s most influential circles, he was instrumental in gathering massive adjacent land donations, including a large donation of his own, which eventually grew into Seaside Park, on Bridgeport’s beautiful Long Island Sound coast. To this day there’s a statue of Barnum in Seaside Park, gazing out across the Sound with a peculiar look on his face that inspires one to think, “What’s this guy up to?”
A century ago Bridgeport was on the cutting edge of modern family entertainment, and is once again with the Gathering of the Vibes. Held very much so in the immortal tradition of Barnum’s world famous showmanship, Vibes brings only top shelf acts to Seaside Park, where everything glows with intimations of Barnum’s whimsicality. Barnum literally paved the way for this festival, and this year Bridgeport natives, Connecticut residents, and festivalgoers from all corners of the earth alike should be ecstatic to welcome such amazing acts to our shores for almost 4 days of pure elation.
There’s a plethora of bands on the bill for the 18th year of Vibes. Famous and not so famous, young and old, Vibes brings the best every year. Previous years have seen Primus, Toots & the Maytals, Moe, and many others own the stages in Seaside. One band that is worth every booty shaking rage monster’s love and dedication is funk explosion Deep Banana Blackout. A Southern Connecticut mainstay, Deep Banana Blackout seems to have been on the scene forever, and they never get old. This year you can find them bringing the power on the Green Vibes stage Saturday morning at 1am, just after Dark Star Orchestra on the main stage.
Another band to get to know if you don’t already is Twiddle. This Vermont based progressive rock/jam outfit is another ferocious group that never ceases to impress. This year Vibes held a online based ‘election,’ or basically a fan driven voting contest for a wildcard spot as the very first act of the festival. New York City “Sci-Fi Middle Eastern Fusion” trio Consider the Source beat out scores of other contestants and will be kicking off the festivities on the festivities Thursday at noon at the Green Vibes stage. This will not be an act to miss. CTS somehow combines virtuosity of musicianship and extreme humbleness of personality to create a sonically infatuating catalog that is as times as heavy as Tool, funky as Red Hot Chili Peppers, intricate as King Crimson, and exotic as Ravi Shankar.
Another thing that needs mentioning here is that for over twelve hours on Saturday, you won’t want to miss a beat on stage. Absolutely classic funk band, Funky Meters (previously just The Meters) is followed by The Roots. Just those two acts back to back are enough to merit a ticket, but it doesn’t stop there. Next up on the Main Stage is Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, then Gov’t Mule, topped off by Phil Lesh & Friends. Some details are yet unseen, but it’s listed on the Vibes website that Phil Lesh will be joined by John Medeski (of Medeski, Martin, & Wood) as well as John Scofield, Joe Russo, and John Kadlecik.
As far as late night goes, there will be DJ sets by Rob Garza of Thievery Corporation and James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem. It almost goes without saying: you don’t want to miss any of this. Go ahead; check out every band at Vibes this year. I dare you not to have an amazing time.
By Peter DeStefano
OurVinyl | Contributor