Gathering of the Vibes Music Festival is in its 17th year and any such event has to adjust with the times. Over the years Gathering of the Vibes has grown from an event for fans of the Grateful Dead to a festival that caters to Deadheads who now have families. As their children have become teenagers, Gathering of the Vibes has responded with such additions as the School of Rock Teen Vibes Stage and now with an increased presence for Electronic Dance Music.
I spoke this week with Ken Hays, founder of Gathering of the Vibes Music Festival, and Chris Ashcroft, who's booking many of the EDM events. Together they gave me a solid overview of how the Vibes, taking place July 19 through 22, is changing with the times.
Ken Hays launched Gathering of the Vibes in 1996 at SUNY Purchase as a memorial party for Jerry Garcia who passed in 1995. The event has seen numerous locations but is now based at Seaside Park on Long Island Sound in Bridgeport, CT with around 25,000 attendees.
Giorgio Loves Gathering of the Vibes [Official 2012 Line-Up Video]
Most of the acts reflect the various genres of music that Deadheads seem to find of particular interest beyond bands helmed by former members of the Grateful Dead from rock to acoustic to world music. In the above video Giorgio sings his way through the 2012 lineup with some shots of the shore included in the Bridgeport footage.
Over the years the Deadheads have grown up and now have children of their own. This shift has led to what's described as a family-friendly festival with a special camping area for families and Kids Corner at the Vibes where children's entertainers, face painting, costume making and other appropriate activities occur.
While Kids Corner at the Vibes is entering its 13th year, a more recent development is the School of Rock Teen Vibes Stage featuring teen performers. In addition, for those who don't play music or who simply want to find out more about what goes on behind the scenes, sound and light workshops give kids a chance to experience the tech side of music concerts.
In the past, a feature of the Vibes has been a Silent Disco on the beach with dj performances featuring music like house and funk for the up all night crowd. This year those activities are being expanded with a lineup of EDM dj's. Chris Ashcroft of GEG Presents, who holds a weekly live EDM event in New Haven, had a hand in encouraging this shift and booking the acts. He believes moving towards more EDM-related offerings will help Gathering of the Vibes stay relevant with newer generations.
In addition a variety of acts will perform on the mainstage and in the late night tent that bridge many of the genres popular at the Vibes with electronic music. For example, jamtronic band STS9 (Sound Tribe Sector 9) will close the mainstage on Saturday. The late night tent following mainstage shows will include such related acts as Conspirator, Papadosio and Gigantic Underground Conspiracy. So it sounds like the addition of EDM dj's should fit in quite well.
Earlier this week I wrote about the move towards luxury offerings at many music festivals. It's worth noting that the Vibes has offered such amenities as VIP Camping for most of its history. Yet the pricing is much lower than the VIP offerings discussed in my previous post, an example of how The Gathering of the Vibes also caters to its audience by remaining affordable.
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) blogs about business at Flux Research: Business Changes and about dance at All World Dance: News. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.