In Scranton, Pennsylvania concert season has already kicked off, with festival goers from all over the country migrating to the small town to take in the sights and sounds. I was able to land a pass to The Peach Music festival, founded by Gregg Allman, for the weekend. On Friday, August 14th my photographer and I hit the mountain, Montage Mountain to be exact, to take in day one (for us, the festival kicked off on Thursday) of the four day festival.
On the way to the festival it became clear that the traditional access points to the venue would be different, so instead we were dropped off at PNC Field and had to take a shuttle bus to the actual venue. The shuttle was speedy and free, and dropped off relatively close to where we would enter the festival. With passes in hand, we made our way into the maddening crowd. First glances proved that the festival itself is different from others, it felt as if Woodstock attendees walked right off a page in a history book and right onto the festival grounds themselves. A certain kinship filled the air, as the smiles of others welcomed you home. One could easily tell that those who gather each year at this festival are alike, they’re all the same species, most often of the hippie species. Each festival goer I met was nothing but nice, and treated you like family instantly upon meeting. This is a breath of fresh air from other festivals that often feature rude, drunken people who try to start a fight if you accidentally bump into them. Walking up the path towards the first stage we were met with many different vendors, some sporting humorous names such as “Steal Your Plate” a clever Grateful Dead word play. Even without the music, this festival offers a lot to see and do. Because of its location, when you’re not taking in the sweet music and light shows, you can hump it up the mountain to enjoy the zip line or water park. Though we arrived rather late in the day, the festival was bustling with energy and good vibes. Our first adventure was to check out the vendors and what they had to offer, which was pretty much everything short of tooth paste, though they may have had that too. Many items branded with the Grateful Dead logo filled tents, it was as if Bob Weir himself made sure that each Grateful Dead merchandise item could be found here. There was no shortage of different foods to eat as well, from gyros to vegetarian and vegan options, there is a lot to take in. I eventually settled on an organic smoothie, which to my surprise was delightful, even if it contained soy milk, which I’m not fond of.
After some exploring we decided to check out the actual music, which was the main reason we were there to begin with, and would continue to be the reason we will show up for the next two days. Since most of the bands we enjoyed have already played for that day, we decided to walk around, meet some other festival goers and wait for Gregg Allman to take the stage. With three stages, the mushroom stage, the grove stage and the peach stage, there is no shortage of music to enjoy. It seemed the stages each had their own type of music. The first stage you see is the grove stage, which features more jazz fusion and heaver rock bands, up the hill some is the peach stage which is the main stage of the event. The peach stage is the playground for many of the headliners, such as Gregg Allman, Old Crow Medicine Show, Willie Nelson, Blues Traveler and many others. The Peach Music Festival certainly offers plenty of music for almost any taste you have. The peach stage also seems to be the more jam band type stage compared to the others. If you walk through the large pavilion and up another hill (it IS Pennsylvania after all, hills are to be expected) there are more vendors as well as the last stage, the mushroom stage. This area is also home to the water park and off some ways, the zip line and camping grounds. The mushroom stage offers festival goers a more electronica take of music, featuring bands such as Papadosio and Lotus. We had a chance to take in each stage and the sounds that erupted from them. It seems each band is very carefully picked, which is different from other festivals. Peach Music Festival is so organized it’s almost down to a science, each zone you enter is slightly different than the other, and all come together to make one mini Woodstock (I’m not sure it’s a coincidence the festival collides with the Woodstock anniversary) full of good food, amazing people, and a menagerie of heart pounding music. It is hard to find the words to describe The Peach Music Festival, for four days you become part of your own little community full of family members you never knew you had. It’s impossible to be in a bad mood once you step on the festival grounds, the vibes, the smiles, the smells, the music and the people simply will not allow that to happen.
As the darkness fell and sunshine drifted into a starry night, the light shows busted out like huge Technicolor fire balls dancing in the sky. Sweet sounds continued to fill the night as people joyously awaited Gregg Allman to take the stage. At 10:30pm the crowd busted into a collective cheer as the grey haired jam band legend took the stage. He made no introduction, he didn’t need to, and instantly started into a rendition of “Sweet Home Chicago” as photos of Muddy Waters and other blues legends moved across the screen behind him. The crowd began to dance, to swing and of course, to sing. The messiah, one of Peach’s fathers, has arrived. You could feel the good spirit in the air as it filled you with its own brand of soothing daze, and no it wasn’t a contact high either. Gregg continued to play through the night, until The Australian Pink Floyd took the stage at midnight, along with the laser show to follow. Day one for my photographer and I came to a sad end, at Peach you feel so welcome and so comfortable it’s sad to leave. It’s even more upsetting to think that come Sunday, the mountain will no longer be your own little neighborhood where your secret family lives, and will once again become just another mountain in a state full of them. There is no time for sorrow, because day 2 was coming quickly, and more music and love would fill the air and seep into your lungs like a lost lover’s kiss.
Are you getting your groove on at the Peach Music Festival this weekend? What do you think of the festival? What’s your favorite music festival? We’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments below!