Headstash's GATHERING OF THE VIBES 2012 Preview Guide
- By Nick Rhodes
- Published on July 16, 2012
Advance Weekend Camping Pass: $205.00 + fees
17th year – Last year's attendance: 20,000 – Camping: Yes
For a sneak peak of what's in store for 2012, read our preview coverage:Founder Ken Hays talks bringing in Dead members' side-projects and conflicting with All Good.
Interview with members of Lettuce, ALO, Deep Banana Blackout and Zach Deputy
When Jerry Garcia died in 1995, founder Ken Hays realized that he would no longer be able to see many of the like-minded friends he had met from across the country the two or three times per year he was accustomed to.
The city of San Francisco organized a celebration of Garcia’s life in August 1995, but the city of New York and former mayor Rudy Giuliani weren't so accommodating. So Hays and his friends decided to organize their own “gathering” of Deadheads.
In 1996, moe. and Max Creek headlined “Deadhead Heaven – A Gathering of the Tribe” and 3,500 people attended. After that, the name was shortened to simply Gathering of the Vibes and the rest is history.
Vibes is a festival that prides itself being based around the music, emotions and ideals of The Grateful Dead. This year's lineup is chock full of all GD current projects like Phil Lesh and Friends, Bob Weir and Bruce Hornsby, 7 Walkers (Bill Kreutzmann) and The Mickey Hart Band.
This year, there's even a little electronic rock with STS9, Conspirator and a Big Gigantic-Conspirator collaboration. Rounding the event out are eclectic acts like Zappa Plays Zappa, Yonder Mountain String Band and The Avett Brothers - all fairly different performers. The Connecticut coast will undoubtedly be rocking with old-school fans, new-school fans and jam fans.
Grateful Dead reunion. No, they're not all playing together, but Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann will all hit the stage with their various current projects. After hosting Furthur last year, organizers decided to switch it up and let everyone get creative. Expect to still hear a good amount of Dead in a few different styles.
Beachfront property. The beach is within walking distance making a unique and picturesque setting that rivals that of The Hangout. It's a nice way to cool off and relax amidst the crazy atmosphere of Vibes.
Family friendly. Vibes really stresses the family atmosphere and has a ton of activities available for young ragers. There's a Kids Corner, a puppet parade, a Teen Scene, Andy The Music Man and so much more. Take caution bringing kids of course, but if you're planning to hit any event, this one is perfect.
"To have . . . parents bringing their kids is really, I think, a true indication that what we're doing is real, meaningful and inspiring," founder Ken Hays said.
Northeast locale. The Midwest, South and West Coast seem to have a monopoly on big-time festivals now that All Good moved away from West Virginia. Northeasterners don't have many festivals nearby so Vibes is their best option. And a good one it is.
Daily tickets. Vibes is one of the few festivals that sells daily tickets for three days of the event. It takes some careful planning and organization, but it's commendable when catering to older heads that might have to work.
Respect your elders. There will certainly be older fans with stories to tell. They've seen Jerry in his prime and they have some wild tales from the road - so toss them a beer and soak it in. Just make sure you have an
Watch your surroundings. Bridgeport is a much safer city now than in the past, as the police have made great strides to tighten things up. But historically, it's a place to keep your eyes open and stay with a group (as with all festivals really).
Try something new. The lineup is still one of the most eclectic out there, so check out something you aren't familiar with. Vibes does a great job booking funk and other genres that tend to go unnoticed.
As founder Ken Hays said, "I love putting thousands of people in front of a band that they might have heard of before, but have never seen perform live. Anyone can do something in the studio these days, but to feel the energy of a band and to allow them to spread their wings is something that is inspiring."
Don't be afraid to rage during the day. Vibes is one of those festivals that really saves the electronic and heavy stuff for the evening, but that doesn't mean you can't get funky under the sun. Dancing and having fun is infectious sometimes and you can start a party all by yourself.
Don't forget to appreciate The Dead. Without those old guys on stage, the music you know and love wouldn't be here. Take time to check them out and learn some history.
With as many old heads and families as ragers, Vibes is a great cross section of the jam scene. It's a scenic place to see music, the weather in Connecticut is usually ideal and they know what they're doing after a decade and a half of hosting music. It's funky and smooth during the day and raging at night. Most importantly, it's a true gathering of like-minded people who all share a common interest: seeing amazing music.
Who To Check Out . . .
Obviously you're going to check out Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Primus and STS9, so we wanted to tell you about a few under-the-radar acts that are worth your time.
Royal Family Ball. Soulive and Lettuce will bring the funk to late-night slots predominantly dominated by electronic music. It's refreshing to see a group like this get a slot like this at a festival like this.
GV Stage: Thursday - 1:05 a.m. to 3:00 a.m.
Deep Banana Blackout. The Vibes veterans have been there since the beginning and always thrown down something special for the event. Guitarist Fuzz told Headstash in an interview, "For me and the rest of DBB, it tends to feel like a family reunion, both with artists, staff and patrons, which makes it fun and personal. It’s unique in that it has cultivated a group of loyal followers who really feel that same 'Vibe Tribe' family connection, and that goes beyond the music.
Main Stage: Saturday - 3:00 to 4:30 p.m.
ALO. These fusion artists were meant for Vibes. As keyboardist Zach Gills told Headstash in an interview, "We have a new album out right now called 'Sounds Like This,' and I’m very proud of it. I believe it’s a perfect album for Gathering of the Vibes. After all, the second song actually references both lyrically and musically the joy and madness of my first Grateful Dead show and we recorded it in San Francisco."
GV Stage: Sunday - 3:00 to 4:30 p.m.
Who's excited for Gathering of the Vibes 2012? What are some of your favorite things about the festival or your do's and don'ts? Let us know in the comments below . . .