Gathering of the Vibes is a unique festival with a killer lineup, and even though I was only able to make it for the final two days, it was an absolutely incredible time.
I arrived on Saturday, luckily right before Leftover Salmon hit the stage. I had my time-slots confused and thought I had missed them, so I felt extra special when I walked up 10 minutes before they started with “Steam Powered Aeroplane” and “Liza.”
It didn’t take long to notice the one and only Bill Payne of Little Feat up there with the band. Between his killer vocals and slammin’ piano skills, his presents was not only felt, but it added another dimension, a southern rock ‘n’ roll element, to Leftover Salmon’s mountain music. The crowd was diggin’ it, too, as they busted in to “Oh Atlanta.”
There were a few extra unique moments during Leftover Salmon’s set: Little Feat’s “Dixie Chicken” made an appearance, prompting Vince Herman to toss on a washboard and scrap it with some spoons. During “Up on the Hill Where They Do the Boogie,” Drew Emmitt played slide mandolin. And the group got a little ambient during the “Aquatic Hitchhiker” jam. I couldn’t ask for a better way to start my day.
Rodrigo Y Gabriela diversified things a bit with one of the most unique live shows I’ve ever seen. Two flamenco guitarists proved that there are dozens of noises you can make with the traditional instrument, and the duo kept beats rolling like a full percussion section would.
Edward Sharpe brought his traveling circus to the stage next, paving the way for Umphrey’s McGee.
Umphrey’s put on an absolutely killer show, as they’re known to do. They kicked things off with “Cut the Cable” and then “Puppet String.” The belly of the set would feature a nice “1348” > “Hourglass” > “1348” jam and then a ridiculously heavy “Gents” that was sandwiched by “Phil’s Farm.”
As insane as the set was until this point, Umphrey’s was really just warming up for the best part of their extremely well-crafted set. Stanley Jordan and Jake Cinninger dueled on “Hajimemashite” before launching in to a Tool cover of “Forty-Six & 2,” where drummer Kris Myers did a phenomenal job of channeling his inner-Maynard Keenan. If you still had your face intact, there was no way it remained that way after the “Miss Tinkle’s Overture” finalé.
Widespread Panic followed up, wasting no time to get their southern-jam style in effect. “Tall Boy” > “Climb to Safety” is just as good of a way to start any Panic set, and Jimmy Herring made things clear early on that he is the best guitarist at the festival.
The highlight, for me anyways, came mid-set when the band teased “Chilly Water” before jamming in to their cover of “Maggot Brain.” I’d been waiting to hear this one since I heard it from my campsite at Wanee a couple years ago. There’s a few feelings worse than being a mile away from Widespread Panic covering one of your all-time favorite tunes, so I was stoked when they recreated the magic by jumping in to “Chilly Water.”
I became soaking wet during the crowd’s antics during “Chilly Water,” but the guitar-fueled energy heated me right back up. “Driving Song” > “Cotton Was King” kicked some serious ass, but “Ride Me High” was yet another high-point of the night. The group encored with “Protein Drink” > “Sewing Machine,” highlighting their work with Vic Chesnutt in the band Brute.
The Disco Biscuits came on without guests Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann initially, but it didn’t take them long to join in on the magic. The clearest thing about this unique pairing of the Biscuits and the Rhythm Devils was the amount of fun everyone was having.
Barber had moves like Jagger as the crew was joined mid-song by the Devils for “Home Again,” but that was just the beginning. “West LA Fadeaway,” “I Know You Rider,” “Eyes of the World,” “Shakedown Street” and more were all extended with the limitless improvisational boundaries that would encompass a super-group consisting of the Disco Biscuits and the Grateful Dead’s drummers. The setlist looked like this, according to JamBands.com:
Saturday, August 2, 2014, The Disco Biscuits, Gathering of the Vibes, Bridgeport, CT
Story Of The World*> I Don’t Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing^> Confrontation#,Home Again^^> West L.A. Fadeaway^^, I Know You Rider^^, Eyes of the World^^%,, That’s It For The Other One^^> Shakedown Street^^> Viola Lee Blues^^, I-Man^^
Enc: And We Bid You Goodnight^^
(*) unfinished (^) with guest vocalist (#) end (^^) with Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann on percussion (%) with Trucker’s Choice teases
“And We Bid You Goodnight” had guest vocalists from a gospel group, or something. It was absolutely incredible. Here’s a video of the rehearsal. It was every bit as good, if not better.