Gathering of the Vibes
Thu., July 19-Sun., July 22. $20-$205. Seaside Park, 1 Barnum Dyke, Bridgeport. (203) 908-3030, gatheringofthevibes.com.
Gathering of the Vibes is a Connecticut institution, a state-wide, annual family picnic on the beach where we're encouraged to escape the stress of Northeast livin'. We can take off our shoes and get the soles of our feet back into contact with the earth, get to know our neighbors and dance it up to some top-tier bands that include every living original member of the Grateful Dead. There's constant sweet smells from food vendors mixed with the saltwater breeze of Long Island Sound, a Ferris wheel with a view of the main stage, a pair of stages for local acts to hone their chops and a late night silent disco on the beach where everyone wears headphones and ... just goes wild. You can get a spot under "the tree" (the one tree near the main stage, by the soundboard) and leisurely watch the bands all day in the shade, or you can spend the afternoon at a cookout in the campgrounds. You can pay extra and hang in the VIP tent, or you can buy a single day pass and get a small but affordable taste of the madness. On Sunday (the Avett Brothers, Steel Pulse, Keller Williams, Max Creek), Connecticut residents can benefit from a reduced admission price of just $20, and kids 15 and under are free. You can even tape the entire festival if you want, with no special ticket required! It's a tollerant environment, where you can be yourself, or whatever character you want to be for that matter. Wanna dress up in a bear suit? Go for it. Wanna cover yourself in glitter and hula hoop for hours on end? No one's stopping you. No one's even going to blink, in fact. If it gets too hot, go for a swim. If you get too tired, take a nap. The Vibes is what you make of it. The stage has been set (quite literally), and an idyllic environment has been created. It's ready and waiting. At this point, whatever trip you desire, it's now up to you to make it happen.