Words & Photos by Anthony Abu-Hanna

Sound On Sound, Connecticut’s premiere music festival, kicked off with a muddy start at Seaside Park in Bridgeport. After historic rains and flooding crushed the region the day before left the festival grounds soaked and muddy, the decision was made to delay opening the gates. The delay, sadly, caused multiple artist’s sets to be cancelled due to time constraints. 

But, the fact that day one was going to be a party in the mud did not deter fans from showing up in droves. 

Let’s Go Bananas

Fairfield natives, Deep Banana Blackout, kicked off the second Sound On Sound music festival in style, with their signature horns, groovy bass, and rhythmic guitar. Singer Jen Durkin took festival goers through a repertoire of covers, originals, and killer solos to get this party started. 

Who Gets Stoned In Their Room & Writes Music? 

Joy Oladokun does. But first, she played some soulful  tunes for avid listeners. She took us on a journey, opening with Keeping the Light On, an r&b infused folk tune underlaid with some electronic grooves. Her captivating, soulful voice echoed throughout the festival grounds, drawing guests in towards the stage. Joy sang through her emotions and evoked a sense of safety as she talked about her struggles with anxiety and performing. 

I’m A Fool For Love

Indie rockers Lord Huron, were up next, and the festival was starting to pack in for the band that treats their albums as conceptual storytelling. Ben Schneider took guests on a ride, teaching us how to Love Like Ghosts, and playing through hits across their career – songs like Ends of the Earth, Fool For Love, The World Ender, The Night We Met, and their newest single, Not Dead Yet. The real treat, as usual, is when Ben dons his skull mask and performs through a selection of Lord Huron’s heavier songs. The festival grounds turned electric upon seeing him don the mask and set the tone for the rest of the evening – get ready to rock. 

You S.O.B., I’m In!

If there’s been a trend today, it’s that all the bands have a vein of folk running through their catalogs. And that’s certainly true of Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. Rateliff, a self described Americana, folk, and vintage rhythm & blues crooner, took Sound On Sound on a journey of frenetic energy and catchy tunes. His deep, raspy voice, and commanding stage presence dominated attendees as they swayed and belted out word after word of his set. Stomping four on the floor bass drum, chugging guitar riffs, deep bass lines, and a full horn section on Look It Here got people bopping around and dancing all through the crowd, parents dancing with their kids, partners dancing with each other, and friends dancing with friends. 

Happy Birthday, Trey

A birthday show in Connecticut? Sure, why not! Festival goers, or more specifically the Phans in attendance, started Trey’s set by singing Happy Birthday to the man, the myth, the legend. And in kind, Trey treated his phans to a Phish heavy Trey Anastasio Band set as the penultimate performance of night one. And if you’re a Phan, you know a Phish-heavy TAB set is an absolute gift. Right off the bat, he got into it with a jammed-out, horn filled rendition of Set Your Soul Free. After that, Trey performed one of only three non-Phish songs of his set, deftly weaving them between Phish monster jams such as The Moma Dance, Everything’s Right, and Sand. Trey ended his performance with Phish’s First Tube, leaving all of the phans in attendance more than content. 

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

Normally, I try not to write in the first person. But the Red Hot Chili Peppers are an exception to that rule. I was supposed to see them for the first time twenty-two years ago but was unable to attend, and my first time ever seeing them I got to photograph them. 

The Chili Peppers, as they say, burned Sound On Sound to the ground from the moment they walked on stage. Flea, walking out in a handstand, along with Frusciante and Smith opened the set with an introductory jam that shook the ground people stood on. It wasn’t long after that Anthony Kiedis joined the band on the stage and took control of an electric Can’t Stop. The band dug in right after that, leading the sea of people (and mud) through some of their biggest hits – Scar Tissue, Dani California, Eddie, Californication, and By The Way. Kiedis, Flea, Frusciante, and Smith took it to the nearly-full moon for the encore and ended the first day of this festival with, undoubtedly one of their biggest songs of all time, Give It Away. 

Check out coverage of Day 2 here…

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