Images by Steven Philips // Writing by Alexis Sanfiorenzo
We headed back up to Montage Mountain for the second time this summer to welcome the annual return of Peach Fest this past weekend. We were overjoyed to see that the damage done to the mountain and water park a few weeks ago by Camp Bisco was diminished and back to normal again! Hopefully Peach didn’t leave the mountain as disastrous, for water park season pass holders’ sake!
From the moment I passed the first “WELCOME TO PEACH” sign on the road up the mountain, I knew this weekend would hold remarkable memories– there were barely any lines upon entrance and you could tell by the look on their faces that everyone was just in the best state of mind, despite the smoldering heat. Unlike Bisco, upon entrance onto the mountain, you didn’t have to deal with ridiculous searches every 5 feet down the line, dogs, or waiting in 2 hour plus lines for the shuttles to take you up the mountain to set up camp. It was pretty smooth sailing once you entered the parking lot and stepped out of your car. You could really tell that this festival’s prime focus was on its attendees having a memorable time while listening to absolutely amazing musical acts.
And boy did we see some killer performances from fresh jammers like Zoogma to founding fathers like Gregg Allman!
The festival kicked off Thursday at 5 p.m. with quite the performance from funky-rock fusion instrumentalists TAUK. It was perfect setting up camp while still being able to hear their set from the Mushroom Stage in the waterpark. My favorite highlight from TAUK’s set was their funky cover of The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby.” After TAUK, Scranton natives Cabinet took over the stage. The crowd was really into their signature sound, but it just wasn’t for me. I did enjoy the parts of their set when they would slow it down and jam, but it was just a little too bluegrassy for my liking. As the sun began to set and nightfall set in, we headed over to the Peach Stage at the Pavilion for the beginning of Dark Star Orchestra’s 4 hour set. Within the first 10 minutes they already got the crowd going with “Sugaree.” Being the Zoogma fan that I am, I headed back over to the Mushroom stage to catch some of their set while DSO hypnotized the majority of the festival– and man am I glad that I made that venture. Some nostalgia struck the crowd as they started chanting “Who’s gonna jump on stage!?!” in remembrance of the on stage tackling incident during their opening act at Bisco. Zoogma was one of the most surprising performances of the weekend for me. They started off with their infamous jamtronica cover of MJ’s “Thriller” and TAUK joined them on stage for a few songs. My absolute favorite moment of their entire set was when they threw down a cover of Bassnectar’s “Noise.” I seriously couldn’t believe what I was hearing. MAJOR KUDOS ZOOGMA! After I heard that cover, that was all I needed so I headed back over to finish out DSO’s set. While walking over I heard the crowd roaring to “Fire On The Mountain.” Another one of my favorites from DSO’s set was their “Not Fade Away” cover.
I really gotta hand it to Peach Fest for all the amazing acts throughout the weekend. Among my absolute favorites were Deep Banana Blackout, Billy & the Kids, Gregg Allman, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Australian Pink Floyd, Twiddle and Lotus. Holy wow did these performers throw down.
I’ve never even heard of Deep Banana Blackout before walking past the Mushroom stage after DSO on Thursday. They were extremely funky and wow does front woman Jen Durkin have a set of lungs on her. They drew and kept quite a large crowd throughout their late night set. You DEFINITELY want to check them out if you haven’t before! Billy & the Kids brought a killer set to main stage. Aron Magner brought a Disco Biscuits feel to some parts and Tom Hamilton and Bill Kreutzmann definitely spread the Deadhead Vibes. Tom Hamilton is a monster and played flawlessly this weekend not only with Billy & the Kids but also American Babies, Bob Weir w/ Billy & the Kids, and JRAD. Hamilton was definitely the god of Grateful Dead covers during Peach Fest– definitely a fan favorite.
Founding father Gregg Allman played a magical set Friday night. He split his time perfectly between paying tribute to The Allman Brothers Band catalog and his solo creations, all fans young and old were stunned. His solo hit “I’m No Angel,” was one of the set highlights along with the perfect timing of “Midnight Rider” which was played right as the clock struck midnight. After Gregg set the mood for the Peach Stage for the rest of the night, Australian Pink Floyd brought the weirdness. Initially, my plan was to close out the night with Beats Antique but once I heard the opening song, I knew it would have been a mistake to leave. This closing act felt like a walk through the universe, with some of the most insane and though provoking visuals I’ve ever seen in my entire life and lights of all colors of the rainbow. Hauntingly spectacular performances of “Welcome to the Machine” and “Time,”had the crowd in awe. My favorite highlights from the late night Australian Pink Floyd’s set was “Wish You Were Here” and “Comfortably Numb.”
One of my absolute favorite sunset sets of the entire weekend was Twiddle. Sitting on the hill above the wave pool and looking down at the stage as the colors of the sky began painting a beautiful sunset picture was just perfect. That was my first time ever seeing Twiddle and I thoroughly enjoyed it, they are truly a talented set of individuals. I was a little upset that they didn’t play their infamous hit “When It Rains It Pours,” but they brought out John Popper, who’s most famous for his role as frontman of rock band Blues Traveler performing harmonica, guitar and vocals. Truly a magical set!
The most phenomenal set of the entire festival in my opinion. Lotus brought the absolute heat for their 3rd year return at Peach Fest. The rain went perfectly with the buildups of incredible jaw dropping jam sessions and came just when you thought you were going to pass out from the head. I think everyone’s highlight from their entire set was their absolutely sick cover from the infamous Nintendo video game, Zelda. Some more of my favorite songs from their set were “Golden Ghost,” “Sunrain,” “Disappear,” and their fabulous end with “Flower Sermon.” I seriously thought fights were about to break out with how upset everyone was that the clock hit 2 a.m. and how adamant the crowd was about Lotus coming back out for an encore. In my opinion, no encore was needed because that set left my mind in such a great place.
Living guitar legend Carlos Santana closed out the entire festival on Sunday evening. It was truly remarkable being about to watch such a musical inspiration. He welcomed his son, Salvador, onto the stage for a couple of songs. Together, father and son performed Salvador’s newest EP “Summer’s Day.” I was able to catch up with Salvador before he joined his dad on stage for an interview. His favorite part about being on tour with his dad was “my goodness, going to all these different places, I’m just so honored to be able to present my music and my new album while sharing the stage and being backed up by my dad and his band. It’s really cool and at the same time a family bonding experience. I’m just extremely grateful for the opportunity.”
You can really see Carlos Santana’s influential words being a guideline for his son Salvador in all that he does. While talking with him, it was really clear that he is truly passionate about influencing others as his dad does and just making the most out of everything that is thrown his way. He stated, “I never want to be a sell out. I am truly passionate about inspiring others. I couldn’t even be a sellout if I tried, it just doesn’t feel right.” After Santana reclaimed the stage to himself, he implored fans to look at life as a blessing and “live life to the fullest.” Every thoughtful word Santana delivered about self- acceptance lead to his infamous “light and love” chant before breaking out legendary singles such as “Smooth.”