Gathering of the Vibes is a magical place where people of all ages and niches can intermingle, unite, and rejoice in positivity for a couple of days each summer. Ever since I attended my first Vibes last year, I’ve been anxiously counting down the days until I could go back! There are innumerable factors that comprise the certain je ne sais quois we all have come to love about this festival; whether it’s the music, sense of community, breathtaking seaside location, devoted staff, overall immaculate organization, or time spent bonding with friends and family, Gathering of the Vibes definitely has a lot of reasons solidifying its reputation and longevity.
Gathering of the Vibes is the only festival that treats every guest like they are special, V.I.P. or not. There are no fenced-off, off-limits-to-general-admission-guests camping sections; every camper could walk to any camping area, no matter what color wristband they had. Besides one large tent with food, lower-priced beers, and tables/chairs, general admission and V.I.P. guests are intermixed. As far as security went, they didn’t want to give anyone a hard time, they simply wanted to keep all attendees safe, and make sure only campers were allowed into the sections specified for camping. Additionally, there was excellent communal energy in each camping area; new friends borrowing and lending supplies, as well as helping to put up tents and canopies. No one was shy to lend a helping hand, or share water if a neighbor was in need.
Photo by Alexandra Miller
Vibes is the type of festival where, if you drop something in a crowd, a kind soul will tap you on the shoulder and make sure you get it back. The waterfront walkways beside the rocky coastline provided the perfect routes for wheeled transportation of all kinds: bicycles, scooters, long boards, skate boards, motorcycles, wagons, etc. Our neighbor even had a two-man-Burning–Man-esque bicycle “car”, adorned with glowsticks, streamers, lights, and speakers. Walking up and down these routes to get around the festival made me feel like I was walking on a boardwalk at the Jersey Shore, sans the fist-pumpers and bad attitudes. Everyone walking down the streets, alongside the rocks was sort of like a constant parade. Vibes definitely has multiple “Shakedown Streets”, these waterside pathways being some of them, some along the back of the concert field, a food court, and another strip of vendors by the Green Vibes stage.
If you brought your kids along, there were plenty of fun, family-friendly activities for them to engage in throughout the weekend. There were tons of hula hoops available for them to play along with and return when finished. There was also a Juggler’s gazebo, filled with even more hoops, toys, sticks, and other fun items, located in a kid-friendly area where no drinking or smoking was permitted. This was right near the School of Rock stage, a showcase of talented young musicians from all over the country. The School of Rock stage featured some guest artists, like Mihali Savoulidis of Twiddle and Rob Compa of Dopapod.
The Non-Profit Village was placed alongside the water, nearest the ferris wheel, closeby where the Further bus was stationed. There were others interspersed on the opposite side with vendors. Headcount.org
was showcasing the new iCitizen
app, which informs citizens of current global and domestic issues. Represent.us
was on site getting the word out about anti-corruption legislation. Ben and Adam on board the Bio Bus
were helping guests study sea creatures under microscopes, as well as use handheld magnifiers to examine shells, crabs, sand, and anything you found on the beach and brought to examine! The Food Drive Collection tent was also located near the ferris wheel, collecting donations from the minute cars pulled in, and even receiving a large supplementary donation after the festival! In total, they collected 7,975
pounds of food to donate to local charitites! Way to go Terrapin Foundation
! In addition, Harry Moran
, director of sustainability reports that the Green Vibes Carbon Cutters
group added 159 new members! Awesome job, Vibes Carbon Cutters team
Now, to get to the best part: the music! There were tons of amazing acts this year, surely satisfying a broad spectrum of fans. The sound quality throughout the festival was impeccable, and it was also a nice, loud volume! Banooba kicked things off on the Green Vibes stage Thursday at noon. This stage was shady, nestled in a corner of trees, and also breezy, being right by the water. It’s a smaller stage, but also more earthy and intimate; you could even hear the music from the RV/Boardie camping side. Other Thursday highlights include Cosmic Dust Bunnies; Love Canon, who covered Peter Gabriel‘s “Sledgehammer”; Strangefolk, who covered “Mr. Charlie” by The Grateful Dead; Ryan Montbleau & Friends; and Rusted Root. Dark Star Orchestra did one of the best drums/space interludes I’ve ever heard; it made me remember how tight of a unit they are in paying homage to the Dead repertoire. Their set was also played as the celebration began in honor of Jerry Garcia‘s birthday.
Dopapod took the Green Vibes stage for a quaint, yet perfectly weird late-night set, even covering Elton John‘s, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”. They were also joined onstage by Stanley Jordan, plus Todd Stoops & Adrian Tramantano (both of Kung Fu), for various songs, respectively. Dopapod shared an anecdote about friendly neighbors who helped them move their campsite, hence they felt there were definitely some “good vibes being gathered there” and passed along that night.
Here is Dopapod‘s full set from Gathering of the Vibes 2014:
On Friday, Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass feat. Jeff Austin (Yonder Mountain String Band) & Reed Mathis (Tea Leaf Green) continued the Dead covers with their bluegrass renditions of “Samson and Delilah” and “Scarlet Begonias”, among others. Twiddle kicked off the main stage at 11am to one of the biggest crowds ever at Vibes for an early set. In a media tent interview later on that afternoon, I learned that they arrived at 9:30am, had to sound check quickly and get ready to hit the stage! This was their third time at Vibes, previously being avid attendees for years, so each time they perform there is a humbling experience. They said the main factors that influence a great set are knowing your crew, good sound preparation, & being able to relate to the crowd. Twiddle also mentioned they know about 100+ people in the crowd by name, really showing how personal they are with their fans. I guess one could say their motto is, “One show at a time, one fan at a time.” They don’t mind taking the time to have conversations with fans after shows, as well as hand out CDs. They were very down-to-earth, relaxed dudes, and I’m glad I got the pleasure of sitting in on their interview in the media tent!
Other Friday highlights included Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue and Joe Russo’s Almost Dead (featuring Marco Benevento on piano, and Tom Hamilton Jr., guitarist/vocalist of the bands American Babies and Brothers Past). Slightly Stoopid played an awesome late afternoon set, as well, doing a reggae-fied cover of “Forgot About Dre”. John Fogerty did the Creedence Clearwater Revival classics major justice during his lively performance. Catch him Tuesday night at Jones Beach Ampitheatre in Wantagh, tonight, Tuesday, August 5th with Jackson Browne. Lotus made their debut performance at Gathering of the Vibes with their extremely special and on-point Talking Heads Deconstructed tribute set. GOTV staple and classic late-night favorite, Deep Banana Blackout, rocked the Green Vibes stage, followed by EOTO with the later slot.
Saturday’s performers included Kung Fu; Orgone; Leftover Salmon; Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros; Dumpstaphunk, and that was just during the day! Rodrigo y Gabriela had an outstandingly energetic debut set, complete with well-performed covers, like “Creep”, by Radiohead, “Whole Lotta Love”, by Led Zeppelin, “The Pretender”, by The Foo Fighters, & “Fire” by Jimi Hendrix. Umphrey’s McGee, had a high energy set, as well, covering the Tool song, “Forty-Six & 2”, and welcoming special guest Stanley Jordan for “Haji”.
Here is a video of Umphrey’s McGee performing “Cut the Cable” at Gathering of the Vibes 2014:
Headliners and special treats on Saturday night included Widespread Panic, as well as the highly-anticipated performance by The Disco Biscuits featuring Mickey Hart & Bill Kreutzmann of The Grateful Dead (a.k.a. The Grateful Biscuits). The set featured plenty of lasers, plus several tDB original tracks & jams, opening with “Story of the World”. Mickey and Bill joined The Biscuits onstage for “Home Again”, and stayed on for the rest of the set, playing such Grateful Dead classics as “West L.A. Fadeaway”, “I Know You Rider”, ‘Eyes of the World”, “That’s It for The Other One”, “Viola Lee Blues”, & a modern synthy revamp of “Shakedown Street”. They ended with tDB‘s “I-Man”, and an encore featuring a lovely choir performance of “And We Bid You Goodnight”, with Barber conducting.
Here is a video of the complete Grateful Biscuits Set from Gathering of the Vibes 2014:
I was lucky to be selected as one of the very few members of press invivted to sit in on a special Headcount.org interview. This private event was specifically for V.I.P.’s who made a charitable donation to Headcount, and the interview featured all members of The Disco Biscuits, as well as Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann. The guests who paid to attend this private interview received signed posters, as well as submitted questions to the musicians related to Headcount and the musicians’ various motivations for getting involved with political causes. Marc “Brownie” Brownstein explained how tDB started Headcount.org out of general frustration. During the early 2000’s, he and the rest of The Biscuits felt they were in a special position to get kids involved, and to help them recognize the connection between music and social justice. “You cannot play free music in a free society without democracy.”, said Mickey Hart of this distinct correlation. Bill Kreutzmann desribed why hemp is the future for the Earth, because its a great way to “remediate land poisoned by Monsanto chemicals”. There were some very stimulating questions and answers regarding the unique time changes that exist in The Grateful Dead‘s music. As for The Disco Biscuits, they couldn’t have been more excited to perform on stage with the legendary Rhythm Devils, “We’re here, man. We’ve been dreaming of this our whole lives.”, says Brownie of this surreal Vibes 2014 experience.
Here is a photo of tDB bassist, Marc “Brownie” Brownstein autographing a guitar during the Headcount.org private charity Q&A:
Digital Tape Machine, featuring keyboardist Joel Cummins and drummer Kris Meyers of Umphrey’s McGee, played the 1-3am slot on the Green Vibes stage, while Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe played an intimate sunrise set immediately following, lasting until 6am! The Silent Disco on the beach late Saturday night included sets from ConnetICON and Horizon Wireless.
Sunday began with a World Peace Flag Parade & Ceremony/Gathering. Guests brought flags from all nations, and joined together to cheer on as the names of the countries of the world were read aloud from the stage. Sunday was also family day, which attracted an additional friendly bunch of Sunday day guests. Musically, Maceo Parker brought some soulful and funky jazz during his early afternoon set. Other music favorites included The McLovins, moe., Ziggy Marley, and Dispatch. Unfortunately, Allen Stone was forced to cancel his Gathering of the Vibes debut due to travel issues.
Special events from the weekend included a marriage officiated by none other than Wavy Gravy right next to the colorful Further Bus! There also was plenty of morning yoga to get you started each day, plus many activities for kids, teens, and their families!
Vendor shoutouts include Nubian Heritage, a local NY all-natural haircare, body, facial, and skincare company, based in Amityville on Long Island! You may have received a free sample of their wonderful Indian Hemp Seed Oil Cream if you walked by their stand near the entrance to the Green Vibes area. This is the best-smelling, silkiest natural lotion I have ever used! All of their products are made with organic and fair trade ingredients; I definitely plan to visit their website and browse the rest of their selection of creams, soaps, etc.! Along the strip of vendors in the main concert field, I would have to say that the Miracle Mineral was the most intriguingly inviting handmade jewelry/art/glass craft booth! Plus, being right near the main stage, you could shop and still enjoy the music! Owner, Melissa and her dedicated team get major props for being mysteriously classy, electing to not utilize signage, preferring instead to draw curious customers in with a warm and friendly mystique. Check out the Miracle Mineral on Facebook to browse their amazing selection of natural stones, crystals, handmade jewelry, glassblown accessories, embroidered hats from Headquarterz, and so much more!
Getting to know so many vendors and introducing myself to Vibes staff members, I truly began to feel part of a very large, very accepting family! It really makes you feel at home to see so many familiar faces from the previous year(s), working in the same areas, with the same inviting smiles to greet you back! The hospitality for arists, staff, media, and of course guests, is like that of no other festival; every person is an integral aspect of the Vibe Tribe. Although the forecast predicted rain in the days preceding the festival, we truly lucked out weather-wise, only experiencing a bit of light rain late at night. Judging from the past 19 years of hand-picked artists, one can only imagine what founder Ken Hays & the Vibes team have in the works for the 20th anniversary festival next year. (The Dead reunion w/ Lesh, Weir, Hart, and Kreutzmann?!)
Prime Real Estate along the water in the RV/Boardie camping area: