“Sound on the Sound” to return to live music festivals at Seaside Park in Bridgeport

BRIDGEPORT – The organizers of a pair of new music festivals slated for Seaside Park on back-to-back weekends next September have said that despite a late start to artist reservations, they’ve secured 18 of 24 acts for the most large of the two events, nicknamed “Sound on the Sonner.”

They hope to start revealing performers and selling tickets in mid-January.

But the inaugural year of what founders and city officials intend to become an annual late-summer draw will only have this festival of great renown. The proposed second weekend of concerts, focused on jam groups, will not launch until 2023.

Bridgeport Amphitheater developer Howard Saffan, who has partnered with founders and concert promoter Live Nation on the Seaside festivals, said too many jam bands were unavailable.

“We got there late for the dance,” Saffan said, but then insisted, “The second year we’ll have both festivals.”

Saffan, Russell and Wolowitz sat down for an interview this week in the amphitheater, which opened last July at the site of the former Bridgeport minor league baseball stadium, to better understand their efforts on board. of the sea and what music lovers can anticipate. They were then briefly joined by Jim Koplik, Regional President of Live Nation.

In mid-October, Mayor Joe Ganim’s administration and city council approved a 10-year contract with the band to bring the two festivals to town. The practical reason for two back-to-back events is to make the most of the expensive temporary infrastructure that Founders Entertainment will be putting in place at Seaside Park.

By then, Russell and Koplik had urged council members to act quickly and approve their deal, arguing it was too late to book artists.

“Reservations have already started for 2023… so we’re already behind ball eight,” Russell said at the time.

This week, the partners declined to name the top artists scheduled for “Sound on the Sound,” but promised big attractions. The Governor’s Ball with a capacity of 55,000 to 60,000 people is known to host some of the most prominent musical artists. This year’s lineup at Citi Field in Queens included Billie Eilish and A $ AP Rocky.

Russell and Wolowitz said each of the two days of “Sound on the Sound” will start with local talent, continue with more well-known musicians who can sell clubs, followed by artists who can fill the Radio City Music Hall with 6. 000 seats, ending each day with headliners accustomed to performing in front of crowds of 20,000 people.

They expect daily attendance to reach 30,000 to 35,000.

“Nothing overlaps,” Wolowitz said. “The ticket buyer can see every act played.”

And the 5,700-seat amphitheater will also host a launch concert the previous Friday with a 25th artist to be announced.

Wolowitz also insisted, “We’re not bringing the Connecticut Governor’s Ball. “

While this event targets fans between the ages of 15 and 25, “Sound on the Sound” is designed for audiences in their late 20s to late 50s.

And the team promised there would be plenty of types of music on offer when asked if they would cater not only to the lower and wealthy suburbs of Fairfield County, but also to the people of the very diverse Bridgeport. , the largest city in Connecticut.

“This is not an elite festival for the southerners (in Fairfield County),” Saffan said.

“No genre is off limits,” Wolowitz said. He mentioned contemporary music, rock, blues and reggae. But the band later admitted that at least one style – heavy metal – would not be featured.

Russell said part of their goal is to create “an experience that appeals to people who don’t usually go to festivals.”

He and Wolowitz, both 37, met at the Loomis chaffee boarding school in Windsor. Russell is a native of New York who still lives there, while Wolowitz grew up in Old Greenwich and recently returned there. They cited as inspiration the now defunct Gathering of the Vibes festival held in Seaside Park from 1999 to 2015.

The Vibes began in the 1990s as a tribute to Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia, and has grown into an all-age affair, all weekend long, with many attendees camping out overnight. Although it is a popular annual attraction, this festival had its detractors who saw it as too unruly and ultimately not attractive enough for the economy. It ended amid a dispute with the Ganim administration over alleged unpaid overtime by Vibes police.

Saffan has convinced city officials to accept the festivals in part by touting the terms of the contract that allow the city to make a lot of profits without spending taxpayer dollars. In contrast, the Ganim administration invested $ 12 million to help Saffan turn the old baseball stadium into an amphitheater.

“You name it, it’s all up to us,” Saffan told the council ahead of his October vote. “There is no investment from the Town of Bridgeport. “

While praising and fondly recalling their experiences at the Gathering of the Vibes, Russell and Wolowitz also pointed out, both in October to city council and this week, that they are not hosting a Vibes reboot.

“It occurred to us at the time that a lot of the people there weren’t necessarily there for the music,” Wolowitz said.

“We loved our experience at Vibes. Lots of memories, ”said Russell. “Operationally, we thought a lot of improvements could be made. We want it (Sound on the Sound) to be ‘high end’ and to appeal to all demographics and ages. It will definitely be a level above your typical festival experience.

And how much will they charge for this experience? This information is not yet available, although the founders’ executives have mentioned that their company will offer a payment plan similar to the one available for the Governor’s Ball. Discounts will also be given to residents of Bridgeport, Saffan said.

The public will be able to purchase one or two day tickets ranging from general admission to different types of “VIP” experiences.

“It’s all evolving,” said Russell.

Depending on the state of the current coronavirus pandemic, festival-goers are likely to be required to show proof of vaccination or a recent COVID test. It is the policy of Live Nation at his concerts across the country and has been required at this year’s governor’s ball.

Founders Entertainment is a small business and, while preparing to mount their shows in Bridgeport, are also planning the 2022 Governor’s Ball. While Saffan and Live Nation are partners in the former, they have admitted that Founders is taking the helm of the company. Seaside Park business.

“I am a real estate developer,” Saffan said.

And Koplik said his skills are to promote concerts, but festivals are totally different.

“They came to us with the idea,” Koplik said. “I could never do it on my own.”

Russell and Wolowitz described themselves as very active and very capable of adding the events of Seaside Park to their Governor’s Ball responsibilities.

“We have the time and the work ethic to do both,” Wolowitz said.

But Russell acknowledged that the Bridgeport project will need a bit more attention. He said that since it’s been around for a decade, “there’s a level of ‘plug and play'” when it comes to planning and hosting the Governor’s Ball because Founders Entertainment has its system down.

“When you create something new, it’s always more work because you’re starting from scratch. So there is additional focus and TLC required, ”he said.

“We love music and especially live music. Tom and I are always fully involved in everything we do, ”Wolowitz said, adding,“ We ​​are very happy to be doing it. “

For Koplik, a longtime veteran of the music scene, “Sound on the Sound” should be a huge hit.

“There is no better site for a festival,” he said of Seaside Park. “We match the site with the market with the music. There is no reason not to go.

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