What a weekend it was. Even before it began, the good energy was palpable. Rolling in mid-day on Wednesday, I found the Gathering of the Vibes festival in late stages of set up: the Ferris wheel was just about built, stages had come together and the enchanting odors of “Jerry-Roll” eggrolls and “Phil-affel” sandwiches were just beginning to waft over from food-vendor row. The Vibes had begun to pulse, and I could feel the waves of anticipation washing over the van as I pulled up to our vendor space. The air was crisp as I stepped outside and clouds were rolling in quick. In a matter of minutes we built the booth (quite possibly setting a record for fastest Easy-Up construction in festival history), set up camp and hunkered down for the night. Everything was in place and calm for the moment. Little did we know that the tempest was upon us.
I woke to rain, wind and pop-tarts as the first few famous notes drifted our way from the main-stage sound check. Climbing out of the last of the dry blankets, we mentally prepared for a very wet day. While guitar techs teased a few Dead songs, we loaded up clipboards, charged the camera and circled the wagons for one last team huddle. As soon as the music began, as if on cue, the skies began to clear, and we jumped into the fray and got down to business. The next two days were a blur of music, democracy and hippie-fueled action. I don’t recall sleeping either Thursday or Friday and must have consumed more than half my weight in caffeinated beverages, but by the end of the second day I’d begun to figure there was more to the Vibe than I’d felt at first.
Saturday morning came and went in a flurry of activity. On our busiest day of the festival, a killer line-up from Lucas Nelson, Grace Potter and Gov’t Mule all the way up through four full hours of Phil Lesh made those 9pm tacos a gift from the jam gods. When the booth was finally closed, I took a second to breathe and peered out at the glasslike water of New England Sound. The half-moon reflected back at me, seeming to smile that all-knowing grin that said, “Dig this, here and now.” So, I did.
The Vibes were stronger than ever – music, nature and human beings working in concert to bring peace, love and transcendence out of the darkness as Papadosio played in the sunrise.
I sat on the rocks across from our booth gazing back and forth from the sonically splendid stages on my left to the limitless black sea on my right, wondering how in the world I got to be so lucky when I realized: I owe it all to HeadCount. This organization of like-minded, wonderfully passionate people works its fingers to the bone day-in and day-out to make moments like this possible. Having the privilege of repping HeadCount on the road this summer has been a life-changing experience. I see now, more clearly, my place in all this, and know that I won’t soon forget the lessons I’ve learned. Music has brought me to life, and I will be forever Grateful.