The Peach Music Fest Part 1: Extreme Heat, Long Lines and the Don’t Forget the Pouring Rain

The first half of the 5th Annual Peach Music Festival on Montage Mountain in Scranton, PA was hot, sticky, wet and wild. Music was delayed in many instances but highlights like moe.‘s & Electron’s Pink Floyd sets and The String Cheese Incident were the saving graces to a physically and emotionally demanding festival.

Thursday at The Peach was a test of patience and agility for many attendees due to severe weather, long lines and difficult terrain. With scorching temperatures well into the 90s, festival-goers who planned to camp on Montage Mountain found themselves waiting hours in various lines, many unprepared for the elements. Add steep climbs up the mountain with a weekend’s worth of gear in tow, and the combination made for cranky, overtired and dangerously exhausted campers. Not the best way to start off what was supposed to be fun and relaxing weekend. Only adding insult to injury, was the largely uninformed and unhelpful staff.  Throughout the day, there was clear unorganization and lack of communication between security staff and Live Nation staff. Attendees reported and we witnessed what could be viewed as campers cutting to the front of off-site shuttle lines by paying off staff, and may have explained the nearly five-hour wait many endured.

And as our friends The Allman Brothers Band said, “Don’t forget the pouring rain.” Each day at Peach included some rain, but Thursday evening was by far the worst of the four days.

The Primate Fiasco, Bobby Lee Rodgers and hometown bluegrass stars Cabinet were able to get their full set in before the rain started to fall. Dopapod began their delayed set on the Mushroom stage around midnight. This included a stellar “Superbowl,” as well as a tease of the Beatles’ “Rain” during “Eight Years” and fast tempo version of “Picture in Picture” to end the set as they ran out of time. During this time, Dark Star Orchestra returned to the main stage after being forced to stop for the weather. Unfortunately many guests were unaware of this as there was no notification sent via the Peach Music Fest app.

Electron’s Pink Floyd set on the Mushroom stage was the biggest saving grace for what was a truly difficult first day. The foursome, composed of Marc Brownstein and Aron Magner of the Disco Biscuits, Mike Greenfield of Lotus and Tom Hamilton of American Babies welcomed guest bassist Justin Mazer also from American Babies. The “Fearless” set provided a creative and modern twist to the classics. A huge crowd emerged from their shelters to dance to Biscuit inspired jams. Highlights included “Dogs,” “Breathe,” and “Time.” It was an epic performance that has truly evolved and improved since its inception at Gathering of the Vibes in 2015, and a high note to end Day One of Peach Music Festival.

With Friday came high temperatures and once again high humidity. Fortunately Montage Mountain features a waterpark that truly saved not just the day but really the entire weekend. Fans cooled off in a wave pool, lazy river, several water slides and my personal favorite, the kiddie pool that included a mushroom waterfall. All these activities sit next to the Mushroom stage so you can enjoy the music while staying cool. New Hampshire’s Roots of Creation kicked the music off at the Mushroom stage with an energizing reggae set.

The real pool party of the entire weekend was without a doubt during Pigeons Playing Ping Pong at the Mushroom stage. The wave pool was the most packed during this set than it was at any other time this weekend. Fans splashed one another while the pigeons put down an incredible upbeat and fun set.

More reggae on the main stage with Toots and the Maytals adding gospel singers to fill in the sound on the massive Pavilion amphitheater. “54-46 Was My Number” had the whole hill dancing and singing along. Around this time more severe weather rolled in this time with some high winds sending campers scurrying to keep their tents intact. The weather on Friday afternoon caused the Les Brers set, with The Allman Brother Band founding member Butch Trucks, as well as Jaimoe, Marc Quiñones and Oteil Burbridge, to be delayed. Moe’s first set of the weekend was largely jammy with beautiful transitions between songs. It began with “Captain America” and glided into “Skrunk” and then to “Lazarus” to the delight of moe.rons and new fans alike.

Due to illness, Gregg Allman was forced to cancel both appearances at The Peach. What would have been the “Gregg Allman Incident” featuring Allman and the String Cheese Incident, was replaced with The Allman Brothers Family Incident. This group included members from The Allman Brothers Band as well as The Gregg Allman Band. Oteil Burbridge, Butch Trucks, Bruce Katz, Marc Quiñones, Scott Sharrad, Jaimoe and, of course, the members of The String Cheese Incident created a tasteful set to honor Gregg Allman. Opening with “Statesboro Blues” and ending with a boastful “Jessica” the supergroup also played SCI’s “Outside and Inside” and Bob Dylan’s “Quinn the Eskimo.”

The highlight of Friday at The Peach was certainly and unsurprisingly The String Cheese Incident’s second set. The Pavilion and surrounding lawn was overflowing with fans as the temperatures finally subdued, making for a comfortable and thrilling headlining set.

Late night on Friday was moe. second set, a tribute to Pink Floyd. The lightshow itself was truly remarkable from inside the Pavilion. Like electron, moe.’s set was both classical and creative. Overlapping this set was The Floozies’ set on the Mushroom stage.  Jason Hann of the String Cheese Incident filled in for drummer Mark Hill who was unable to make the festival due to the birth of his child. Hann assumed the position nicely but the set was rather hectic, with moments of electronic bliss followed by down tempo breaks that did not necessarily flow.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our review of The Peach Music Fest covering Saturday and Sunday with Trey Anastasio Band, Umphrey’s McGee, and Gov’t Mule!