Sound on Sound 2023 Recap

Hi everyone! I am Ashley, the Social Media Manager for Living the Fest Life. This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend Sound on Sound at Seaside Park in Bridgeport, Connecticut! I had a wonderful experience and I want to tell you all about it. Ahead of the festival I had the chance to speak with JULAI and the Serotones, the hometown band who have an incredible sound, think 90’s ska with powerhouse vocals. Check out our video interview here. We also had the chance to sit down with Kieran Rhodes on Sunday, that interview is further down in this recap.

There were some changes on Saturday due to the weather, including a delayed start to the festivities. Unfortunately, the sets for the first three artists of the day were cancelled, this included JULAI and the Serotones and Kieran Rhodes. We hope that, in the future, these artists are given another opportunity to perform at Sound on Sound. Sunday went off without a hitch even with some muddy grounds from the storm, it turned out to be a beautiful day.

I was able to attend the festival on Sunday, so let’s start at the beginning of my experience. I had purchased the $60 off-site parking pass. I will say that even with the address provided with the parking pass, it was difficult to find exactly where we were supposed to park. The area of Bridgeport where the festival parking lots are was a little confusing. With the help of some local officers and festival workers, we were finally able to find our parking lot. We were about a 15–20-minute walk from the festival grounds, but it was a beautiful day, and the walk by the water was very pleasant. I definitely suggest getting there at least 30-40 minutes prior to doors opening to give yourself time to find your proper parking area.

Getting to the gates as they were opening at 11:45 AM proved to be the best plan of action. The lines were non-existent, and the gates were easy to maneuver. The festival didn’t start to fill up with people until a few hours later. It was nice to be able to get the lay of the land before it became crowded. Make sure you have a clear bag, or else you will not be allowed in with a bag. You were also allowed to have an empty water bottle that you could fill at the various water stations throughout the festival. Even when it became more crowded, the lines for the water stations were very short and moved quickly.

The festival grounds themselves are vast. There was plenty of standing room close to the stage and a dedicated area for those who wanted to set up camp with beach chairs or a blanket. There were also many sections of picnic tables and some tented areas with comfy couches. One of my favorite areas was an activity area set up with giant games and cornhole. There was even a silent disco!

There was a ton of space to just move and walk around without feeling too overcrowded or overstimulated. I will say, I wish there had been more areas for shade, as a very pale person. Make sure to have a hat or be consistent with reapplying your sunscreen. The only downside to the grassy grounds was that there were many areas that were still wet from the storms the days before, so you definitely needed to make sure you didn’t accidentally lose a shoe in the mud, but it wasn’t everywhere.

The first thing we did was fill up on water and check out some of the food concessions. You have choices between concession stands and food trucks. First, we checked out Garelick & Herbs, where I ordered a Cranberry Apple Chicken Wrap, and my friend ordered the Caesar Salad Wrap with Chicken. 10/10 would recommend those wraps, they were delicious. Later on in the day, my friend grabbed a cookie from them, it was divine! You can find this local eatery on Instagram at @garelickandherbs. I will say, as is typical at most festivals, the prices for most of the food were $15 and above, so definitely expect to spend a good chunk of change while there.

The first group of the day to perform was a dance music band with a funky vibe from Philly named Snacktime. They set the tone for the day, as they played a very high energy set. The rest of the artists for the day were Calder Allen, Gin Blossoms, Cautious Clay, Margo Price, Mt. Joy, Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, Dispatch, Hozier, Alanis Morissette, and John Mayer. Everyone, in their own right, was incredible. The energy from the stage definitely passed on to the crowd. It truly brought me so much joy to witness the crowd around me fully enjoying themselves.

Cautious Clay. Photographed by: Olivia Bastone
John Mayer. Photographed by: Maggie Friedman

In the early afternoon, I had some time to sit down with Kieran Rhodes, a student at Berklee College of Music. Through Berklee’s Popular Music Institute, Kieran was given the opportunity to experience what it is like to play at a festival, and to have a look into what that type of production can be. Unfortunately, due to the weather, Kieran’s opportunity to play at the festival was canceled. Even with that disappointing news, we were excited to sit down with Kieran for a chat, and you can find that conversation below this paragraph. Kieran is incredibly talented, and we hope that the unfortunate cancellation opens the doors to better opportunities for him to share his music. You can find Kieran on Instagram at @kieranrhodesmusic and on Spotify as Kieran Rhodes, my personal favorite songs are Disengage and It Takes a Fool (Rule the World).

Interview with Kieran Rhodes at Sound on Sound, October 1st, 2023, Seaside Park, Bridgeport, Connecticut

The rest of the day was spent enjoying the music and walking around to check out all of the amenities. We stopped by the Headcount booth; they are a non-partisan organization that uses festivals and concerts to connect with potential voters and get them registered to vote. As someone who is active in her local politics, I find it so important to have these groups at events that many young people attend, as a reminder that their voices truly do matter. You can find them on Instagram at @headcountorg or here at their website.

Later in the day, we checked out the food truck area. I ordered a veggie burger wrap from the Try Vegan NJ truck, and it was spectacular. The team from Coca-cola was handing out free ice-cold cans of Coke Zero. Even if you aren’t a Coke fan, that ice cold can felt great on the back of my neck after being in the hot sun for several hours. There was a ferris wheel that you could go on for $5. The proceeds of which were split between the different organizations in attendance, including Headcount.

The next thing I want to highlight is how absolutely incredible the bathroom situation was. There were at least 4-5 areas of port-a-potties and sinks set up in the general admissions areas. They were continuously cleaned and restocked by the staff, they actually flushed, and there was soap to wash your hands. As it got dark, all the port-a-potties had bright lights inside, so you weren’t fumbling around in the dark. It was honestly the most magnificent bathroom setup I have ever experienced at a festival or concert. Props to Sound on Sound for that, because I’ve had a lot of awful festival bathroom experiences in the past.

As the sun set, Hozier came on for his set. The vibes were immaculate, and his voice was as smooth and soulful as ever. The relief from the heat of the day was a major plus once the sun set. Be prepared for a very long day if you plan to see every artist.

Photograph by: Maggie Friedman @maggielndnphoto

Leaving the festival was relatively easy. We left a little early, cutting out just before John Mayer finished his set, to try to avoid some of the post festival traffic. There were staff members posted all along the walk back to the parking lots, which I appreciated as it had gotten dark rather quickly. I felt safe the entire walk back to the car. All in all, I would absolutely attend Sound on Sound again. The vibes were fantastic, the facilities were aplenty, and the staff was incredible. For a festival in their second year, they have certainly put together an impressive event. I’ll be seeing you again, Bridgeport!

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