Elvis Costello and Jane’s Addiction Nod to the Grateful Dead at Gathering of the Vibes
Gathering of The Vibes returned to Bridgeport, CT over the weekend as temperatures soared well past 100 degrees. Dark Star Orchestra with special guest Donna Jean Godchaux helped kick off the festival Thursday night, offering an original setlist of Grateful Dead standards that featured songs such as “Loose Lucy” and “Jack Straw.” The Grateful Dead cover group also shook things up by segueing “Help on The Way>Slipknot!” into “Feel Like A Stranger” instead of “Franklin’s Tower.” English funk group The New Mastersounds played into the late hours of the night, offering a set on the Green Vibes stage.
Connecticut’s Kung Fu appeared at the festival for the second year in a row on Friday, opening their set with a version of “Rattlesnake” that moved into “Letters to Bobby Portugal.” Members of Deep Banana blackout joined the jazz-fusion group for “Junoon,” which turned into a metal-esque jam that caused some members of the crowd to form a mosh pit.
Perhaps Furthur’s Joe Russo spent the most time onstage Friday. The drummer sat in with God Street Wine’s Lo Faber, Aaron Maxwell, Jon Bevo and Dan Pifer for the second half of their set, including “Fortress of Solitude,” “Waiting For The Tide,” “Nightingale” and “Borderline.” Russo also appeared on the kids’ stage, joining members of the School of Rock All-stars for a cover of Guns N’ Roses “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” Later on in the night, he also made a guest appearance with The Levon Helm Band for “Evangeline” and “Mardi Gras,” the latter which featured Cindy Cashdollar on lap steel guitar. In addition, Grateful Dead/Furthur guitarist Bob Weir emerged during Helm’s set for two songs associated with The Dead: “Deep Elem Blues” and “Attics of My Life.” The Levon Helm Band closed their set with a high energy version of “The Weight” which turned into an all out crowd sing-along, assisted once again by Joe Russo and Cindy Cashdollar.
Soon after, headliners Furthur took the stage for lengthy set that featured a “Minglewood Blues” and “Mama Tried,” as well as a nod to The Beatles with a soulful cover of “Golden Slumbers>Carry That Weight.” Big Gigantic closed the festivities around 1 AM, performing loud, bass-heavy remixes of Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow” and Jay-Z’s “Dirt Off Your Shoulder.”
As the heat from Friday wore off, Gathering of The Vibes veterans Deep Banana Blackout took the main stage in front of a crowd that stretched deep into the concert field and endlessly chanted the group’s name as guitarist Fuzz performed the high powered guitar riffs that the funk group is known for. The Bridgeport, CT-based band invited out several area musicians, including members of Fuzz’s Caravan of Thieves bandmates and the Kung Fu duo of guitarist Tim Palmieri and keyboardist Todd Stoops (longtime member Deep Banana Blackout member Rob Somerville is also part of Kung Fu).
Saturday’s lineup also boasted performances from Vibes’ two original 1996 headliners, Max Creek and moe. (Max Creek’s set was part of the seminal jamband’s 40th anniversary tour). Meanwhile, first time Vibes performers Elvis Costello & The Imposters quickly embraced the festival’s spirit by offering a unique, rock-and-roll set that included “Watching The Detectives” and version of the Bob Dylan/Band collaboration “This Wheel’s On Fire” that dipped into Allen Toussaint’s “On Your Way Down” (Costello has both toured and recorded with Toussaint). Before busting into a version of Grateful Dead’s “It Must Have Been The Roses,” Costello also mentioned that he recently wrote a song with Robert Hunter which he hoped to debut at Vibes before he fell sick earlier in the week. He did, however, dedicate his signature version of Nick Lowe’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding” to Vibes’ MC Wavy Gravy.
Saturday’s other left field headliner was alternative rock icons Jane’s Addiction. Though the group’s harder sound, LA vibe and stage presentation—which included a pair of stripper-like dancers—at first seemed to clash with the Vibes’ retro-hippie ethos, the quartet quickly made the festival their own. Frontman Perry Farrell referenced the Grateful Dead numerous times throughout the set and described drummer Stephen Perkins’ late brother as a huge Dead fan who had all the group’s “albums and tapes.” In a heartfelt moment, he also said how proud Perkins’ brother would have been if he knew that Stephen would one day play with the Grateful Dead (Perkins has performed with The Rhythm Devils). Farrell also discussed his love of ’60s classic rock as Jane’s Addiction rolled through a bit of Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” The Who’s “Sparks” and a surprise cover of Pink Floyd’s “In The Flesh?” that included a bit of “Breathe” and ultimately segued into “Up The Beach” (Farrell’s best line: “you know, joints are softer than glowsticks.”) Jamband fans were also happy to hear Jane’s originals like “Been Caught Stealing” and “Three Days,” which has since been covered by Phish and the Disco Biscuits, respectively. Watching the set from the crowd, Disco Biscuits’ guitarist Jon Gutwillig described Jane’s Addiction as one of his favorite bands.
The final day of Gathering of the Vibes was a lot more low-key, kicking off with a “peace parade” that featured a parade of children carrying flags of various countries as Wavy Gravy and the crowd prayed “may peace prevail on earth” over and over again. Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann’s The Rhythm Devils were joined by Steve Kimock, Keller Williams and Tea Leaf Green bassist Reed Mathis for a one time performance on the main stage, playing Grateful Dead classics such as “Samson and Delilah,” “Eyes of The World” and “Scarlet Begonias>Fire on The Mountain.” As John Butler Trio climbed on stage and played “Company Sin,” “Better Than” and “Treat Yo Mama,” to close the festival, the sun-soaked crowd cheered one last time and danced their hearts out as John Butler questioned the foam balls that were endlessly being tossed at him.
If you attended the Vibes, please vote in the Relix.com poll for your favorite performance of the weekend.