Peach Music Festival 2023 (Photos + Review)

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    Peach Music Festival 2023 (Photos + Review)
    Published: July 10, 2023

    My Morning Jacket at Peach 2023. Photo by Andrew Hutchins.

    On the weekend of June 29 to July 2, I took a road trip from Charleston, SC to Scranton, PA to attend the 11th annual Peach Music Festival at Montage Mountain. This was my first Peach and my first time camping at a music festival alone.

    In this article I will share my experience at Peach 2023 from my own perspective. This will be a comprehensive review that will include not only my thoughts on the music itself, but also my thoughts on the overall festival organization, and my experiences camping solo.

    The piece will be of interest to those who attended, or are curious about attending Peach in the future. It will also be interesting for those involved in the Charleston music scene (because of Friday, specifically), those who would like to camp at a music festival alone, and for employees of Live Nation who want to make their festival better.

    Drone shot from above the lawn at the Peach stage, Peach Music Festival 2023.

    This is going to be long, so use the Table of Contents below to jump around if you’d like.

    Thursday, June 29

    Parking

    I showed up at Montage early on Thursday morning to pick up my pass at the box office, located in a shopping centre at the base of the mountain. I had a VIP pass that did not include camping, so I purchased camping along with an Upper Lot Camping Parking pass, allowing me to bring life to my vision of this mountain.

    My experience with camping festivals prior to this had been Bonnaroo, where you camp immediately beside your car. Peach is much more primitive than that.

    Photo by AJ Kinney.

    At Peach, you park in a lot away from the campgrounds, and hop on a shuttle to the camping area. The shuttle makes loops around the grounds all weekend, each time returning to the parking lot so you can find your way back to your vehicle if needed. There are also shuttles available to the off-site parking lot located at the nearby PNC Field.

    After being ushered to the correct parking lot by volunteers who had clearly not been informed of the process, I unloaded my gear and got into the shuttle line with hundreds of other Thursday morning arrivals.

    The process was slow-going, but people were in such high spirits that it didn’t even matter. This was my first encounter with the positivity of the crowd at Peach. It took nearly three hours from the time that I got in line to the time that I finally boarded a shuttle to the campgrounds. Instead of complaints, all around me people shared drinks and stories of festivals past.

    Camping Setup

    Campgrounds at Peach 2023.

    Being a solo camper, and reading about the challenging camping conditions at Montage prior to heading up there, I wanted to go as minimalist as possible.

    After much careful thought, I packed my entire camping setup into three bags so that I could get everything onto the mountain in just one trip. Each morning I would return to my truck to re-stock on beer and supplies.

    Campground arrival shuttles follow one of two loops: the Red Loop and the Blue Loop. Each of them go to a different part of the campgrounds, making several stops along the way. I opted for a Blue Loop shuttle and got off at the second stop.

    The pavilion where the music takes place is located downhill from the campgrounds, which are situated among the ski slopes of Montage Mountain and labeled via letters of the alphabet. The highest concentration of campers was naturally at the bottom of the hill, where there is some relatively flat ground available.

    Campground shot from higher up. My campsite was in the woods to the left.

    Since I was looking more for privacy than flat ground, I chose to go up and landed in the woods at the top of the hill, in section J. I strung up my hammock between two trees and a rain tarp overhead. I used a bike lock to secure my bags to the tree at one end of the hammock.

    Directly downhill from me was section G, also known as “The G Spot”, location of the late night party campsite known as the Thunderdome. If you camp near here, you will be subject to loud music and a raging party during all hours of the night, and all weather conditions.

    My campsite at Peach 2023.

    Overall I was happy with my minimalist camp setup as it made the whole process of loading onto the mountain easy for me. Some people made multiple trips to the parking lot to set up extravagant campsites, and they probably had a much more difficult experience than I did.

    My hammock and tarp setup even kept me dry during torrential downpours on Saturday and Sunday.

    Venue

    After setting up my campsite, I made my way down the hill for the first time to get my bearings in the venue. The main entrance to the venue from the campgrounds is located near the Mushroom Stage — the second largest of the three (plus VIP) stages.

    Walking in, the first thing you’re greeted with is a large cone-shaped waterslide. Keep going and you pass the wave pool, which is situated directly beside the Mushroom Stage.

    View from the wave pool of the Mushroom Stage, Peach 2023. Photo by Andrew Hutchins.

    There were no acts at the Mushroom or Grove stages on Thursday, with just the main stage, the Peach stage, being open for the evening.

    Deeper into the venue, past the Mushroom stage, you walk past the lazy river and a couple more waterslides, in a paved section lined with food, drink, and merchandise vendors.

    There are also some open air showers where many people hosed off throughout the weekend — as noted by pooling slosh water in the always-wet area directly between the showers and the lazy river.

    Between the Mushroom and Peach stage is an overpass marked on the map as Skydog Way. This is an official separation between two stages, and due to some legal stipulations, open containers of alcohol are not permitted to be carried between the stages.

    Passing between stages via Skydog Way, Peach 2023. Photo by Andrew Hutchins.

    This means that all weekend, there were security guards asking you to pour out or finish your drink on your way between one stage or the other.

    This is a bit of a happy accident for Live Nation as it allows them to sell more $15 beers and $22 cocktails as people chug through their drinks to get to the next act on time, and then inevitably need another one for the band that follows.

    By the time I made it down to the Peach Stage, Los Angeles-based funk band Thumpasaurus were up. I was still getting my bearings so I only caught part of the set, but I noticed immediately the cavernous, large sound produced inside the tent surrounding the stage and thought to myself how epic some of these sets would sound throughout the weekend.

    Thumpasaurus at Peach 2023. Photo by AJ Kinney.

    Thumpasaurus themselves noted the cavernous quality of the “room”, stating how they love to play on that stage and referring to it as the “Space Barn” — an appropriate name considering both the big, booming sound produced, and the lofty condition of many festival-goers.

    Twiddle were up next, the Vermont-based reggae-infused jam band who have been going strong ever since 2004. This was my second time seeing them, the first being at Bonnaroo 2017, and it seems likely to be my last, as they announced in late 2022 that they would be taking an indefinite hiatus at the end of 2023.

    Twiddle at Peach 2023. Photo by Andrew Hutchins.

    While I wouldn’t consider myself to be a Twiddle fan, I was much more impressed with their set at Peach than I was by their set at Bonnaroo several years back. The band was in-sync and jamming with an unexpected level of force. This may be due to the bittersweet feeling shared between them and their fans as they perform their final shows together — if the hiatus sticks, that is.

    Twiddle guitarist Mihali hung around the festival all weekend, hopping up on stage with Melt on Saturday and then performing a solo set on Sunday afternoon.

    Goose

    Goose at Peach 2023. Photo by AJ Kinney.

    The main event on Thursday night was Goose, a band that has blown up big time over the past several years. Many say that the jolt of popularity that made them one of the biggest jam bands in America came from their much-discussed set at the Grove stage at Peach 2019.

    After 2019, Goose were back in 2022, completely skipping the Mushroom stage and instead being slotted in a late night set on Peach. In 2023, Goose returned as headliners, performing two sets on the Peach stage to close out night one of Peach 2023.

    When Goose stepped out on stage Thursday night, keyboardist and ringleader Peter Anspach addressed the crowd, expressing gratitude for being at Peach. He mentioned how much they love it and joked how they’re “always on it,” before launching into the instrumental “Feel It Now” to get warmed up for what I felt was, honestly, an underwhelming first set.

    Goose at Peach 2023 Photo by Andrew Hutchins.

    “Rockdale”, a song penned for the pre-Goose project Vasudo, came halfway through. This is typically one of my favorites in the Goose catalogue, but despite being 16 minutes, this version felt phoned in and uninspired. Rick played an extended guitar solo that was well-executed and pretty, but it didn’t really go anywhere. I was waiting for them to do something crazy with it, and they just… didn’t.

    I was over it at this point and went to go wander around the festival grounds, wondering to myself what was so great about Goose. It was at least mildly enjoyable in the background, but the band completely lost me for the end of the first set.

    Thankfully, they came back out for the second set with a lot more energy. They opened with the Fat Freddy’s Drop cover “Fish in the Sea”, which was controlled but featured a bit more effort to be creative from both Rick and Peter.

    Goose at Peach 2023. Photo by Andrew Hutchins.

    They started a deep groove here and kept it going into “Red Bird”, the slow jam featuring Peter on lead vocals. The bass here was exceptionally powerful, and Rick’s guitar tone was more attuned to the psychedelic environment of the Peach stage, offering trippy accents over Peter’s melodies on keys. Then, the guitar solo took things to space, which is exactly what I had been hoping for.

    This more improvisational element is what I had been hoping to hear more of during that first set. I was glad to see that I could still be a Goose fan — solidified during “Red Bird” and the entire second set that followed.

    Goose at Peach 2023. Photo by Chris Huber.

    So, perhaps Goose needs a break from Peach for a couple of years now. Their Peach performance came during a summer of heavy festival appearances including Electric Forest and two nights at Resonance directly following. It’s hard to be unique when you’re playing 3 festivals a week.

    That said, while I hope to not see them on the Peach lineup next year, I’d still catch Goose on the road this fall, and will replay set two from Peach 2023 from time to time.

    2023/06/29 Peach Music Festival, Scranton, PA by Goose

    Friday, June 30

    Friday at Peach 2023 featured a high concentration of Charleston talent, with Kanika Moore of Doom Flamingo officially on two sets (and showing up during many more), plus Little Bird and The Psycodelics both on the Grove stage. We also saw Charleston adjacent act Mo Lowda & The Humble, plus Umphrey’s McGee featuring Doom Flamingo member and Charleston resident Ryan Stasik on bass.

    Kanika Moore & The Broadband

    Kanika Moore at Peach Fest. Photo by Jake Katznelson @snapkatz.

    The first set I caught on Friday, after grabbing a delicious wrap from Hippie Dips, was the all-female band Kanika Moore & The Broadband on the Peach stage at 2pm. Before starting, Kanika addressed the crowd and mentioned how she was excited for the chance to “do it my way”, suggesting that she had full creative control of this project.

    They opened with a cover of Janet Jackson’s “Control”, followed by Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out”, and moved through R&B and soul covers for a full hourlong set. Kanika mentioned that she assembled an all-female band for this set to replicate the amount of females in the crowd with the amount on stage. Her band

    As predicted, this turned out to be the first of several times Kanika Moore showed up on a stage on Friday at Peach 2023. Watching her perform is always a treat, and we saw a whole lot of that on this day.

    Mo Lowda & The Humble

    Mo Lowda at Peach 2023. Photo by Luda Ronky.

    Mo Lowda were up next on the Mushroom stage, the Philadelphia-based rock band who we have covered extensively over the years. This year they’re touring, including two-nights in Charleston, in support of their self-titled album, released in March. The former three-piece, self-producing band consisting of Jordan Caioila, Jeff Lucci, and Shane Woods has now been a four piece for several years, adding multi-instrumentalist Kirby Sybert on keys, guitar, and bass in late 2019.

    At this point, Mo Lowda have 10 years worth of music, with a consistent lineup and the chops to prove it. What struck me the most was watching them play together, and especially the swapping of instruments. Jeff would play the bass, but then on certain songs switch to guitar while Kirby picked up the bass.

    Mo Lowda at Peach 2023. Note you can see me in the bottom left corner. Photo by Luda Ronky.

    Near the end of their set, frontman Jordan Caiola addressed the crowd, saying that “It’s Peach Fest, we’re not gonna not jam. We’ve got 10 minutes left, we’re gonna see what happens.” They then put on full display the chops that I mentioned earlier before transitioning into one final song to close out the set, the 2020 hit “Pearls”.

    Dogs in a Pile

    Dogs in a Pile at Peach 2023. Photo by Andrew Hutchins.

    One of the most intriguing new jam bands on the scene today is the New Jersey-based Dogs in a Pile. As evidenced by the band name taken from the Grateful Dead song “He’s Gone”, this band is heavily influenced by the Dead, but play original material that has enough going for it to feel unique and fresh.

    This was my first time seeing them and I really enjoyed what they brought to the table, and their recent album Bloom has been in rotation here at Extra Chill HQ. I love to see a jam band that doesn’t fall completely flat in the studio, and can bring it live.

    In the live setting, Dogs in a Pile bring a more spread out approach than we hear on the album, and they’re not afraid to venture outside the confines of jam music. They’ll explore a song for a bit, throwing in familiar licks from the Dead and Phish (the guitar riff to “Simple” heard distinctly early in the set), and even venturing into punk territory at times.

    Dogs in a Pile at Peach 2023. Photo by Andrew Hutchins.

    Of course, they played a Dead cover too, with a nice rendition of “Jack Straw” that played homage to Jerry Garcia himself in the form of flubbed vocals.

    Little Bird

    Little Bird at Peach 2023. Photo by Chris Huber.

    Up next we had a Charleston act in the form of Little Bird performing an early evening set on the Grove stage. This was a well-deserved Peach debut for Little Bird, who have really evolved over the years and today are easily one of the most talented acts coming out of the Charleston music scene.

    With the quartet of Noah Jones, Jim Rubush, Oleg Terentiev, and Ben Mossman joined by frontman and songwriter Jay Hurtt, Little Bird deliver powerhouse instrumentals and compelling songwriting for a tight package that hit right on target for the mostly new fans at Peach.

    Frontman and songwriter Jay Hurtt is coming into his own as an artist, as seen by his confidence on stage and from the increased depth he’s put into his songwriting recently. Feeling the energy of Peach emanating from the crowd, Jay even hopped off the stage and took the show into the audience.

    Little Bird at Peach 2023. Photo by Chris Huber.

    They performed the new track “Out in the Sun”, due out this Friday, July 14th, and my friend Nick turned to me and said it was one of the best songs he’s ever heard. We also heard a cover of Mac Demarco’s “Cookin Up Something Good”, an appropriate and interesting cover choice.

    Little Bird represented for both Charleston and themselves on Friday evening, and we’re glad to see their career beginning to blossom to its full potential.

    TAUK Moore

    TAUK Moore pregame handshake. Photo by Andrew Hutchins.

    After Little Bird, I caught some of Umphrey’s McGee (who were joined by Kanika Moore for a song) before heading back to the Mushroom Stage again to catch Kanika yet again, this time as the frontwoman for TAUK Moore. This is a band she formed in collaboration with TAUK, and earlier this year they released an energetic, genre-bending full-length album.

    Kanika’s presence is completely captivating. Whether she is singing or just grooving with the music at the front of the stage, you just can’t look away. She knows exactly how to work an audience, and we’re just in the palm of her hand as she brings us into her world.

    To close out the set, the band called up guitar prodigy Taz Niederauer, who brought a down and dirty rock guitar sound that was welcome after a set fueled mostly by electro-rock and funk.

    Taz with Tauk, Peach 2023. Photo by Andrew Hutchins.

    The Psycodelics

    The Psycodelics backstage at Peach 2023. Photo by Luda Ronky.

    Completing the face melt that was TAUK Moore, I hiked by way back over to the other side of the pavilion, where headliners Ween had taken the Peach stage. I caught some of their set, and while I wanted to watch the whole thing, I could not miss The Psycodelics on the Grove stage.

    Despite being opposed to the headliner, this 10pm – 12am time slot represented a huge opportunity for The Psycodelics to present their music to its intended audience. It was incredible to see a band who I saw for the first time at a house party on the East Side of downtown Charleston now performing a nighttime set at a festival of this size.

    The Psycodelics feat. Kanika Moore, Peach 2023. Photo by Andrew Hutchins.

    The crowd really showed up for them, only increasing in size as Ween’s set on the Peach stage came to an end. By the time they reached the end of their set, the Psycodelics had packed out the entire field in front of the Grove stage, and completely won the crowd over.

    It’s hard not to be won over when watching this group of musicians play together. The Psycodelics in this iteration was a seven-piece band that included frontman and bassist Cam Westcott alongside Whitt Burn, Harlem Farr, Sean Bing, Demario Kitt, plus Noah Jones and Jim Rubush from Little Bird.

    The Psycodelics feat. Kanika Moore, Peach 2023. Photo by Chris Huber.

    While the entire band is great, Cam himself is a special talent. His regular persona is so laid back and chill, walking around the festival all day in a white tee and sunglasses. Up on stage, a completely different side of Cam is revealed — and he’s got the juice.

    The Psycodelics were also joined by none other than Kanika Moore for two songs: a groovy take on Rick James’ “Mary Jane” followed by “Head” by Prince, which Kanika preceded by saying, “you better recognize a Goddess.” This was seriously an epic set that helped pave the way for what I see as an obvious rise to fame for this band, if they continue along their current path.

    “Fire on the Mountain”

    Daniel Donato at Peach 2023. Photo by Jake Katznelson.

    The Psycodelics were followed up by two options for late night sets: LP Giobbi spinning Dead House on the Peach stage or Daniel Donato’s Cosmic Peach on the Mushroom stage. I caught some of LP Giobbi before deciding I’d rather go lie down in the grass and listen to Daniel Donato.

    Making my way from the Peach stage to the Mushroom stage, I encountered an unfortunate road block at Skydog Way. The path had been blocked, and the security guarding the way mentioned something about a vendor fire.

    Apparently, a propane tank had caught fire at one of the food vendors located between the stages, and it had caused enough damage to warrant blocking traffic between the stages. This would have been alright, except the communication between festival staff and concertgoers was virtually nonexistent. None of the people working seemed to have any idea what was happening, and we were left to fend for ourselves in finding the alternate route between stages.

    Daniel Donato at Peach 2023. Photo by AJ Kinney.

    It’s understandable that an unexpected event like this would have been difficult to deal with, especially given the terrain of the mountain. The alternate path was long, going behind the Peach stage and out around the festival grounds, and there was a police presence, and it overall just wasn’t the greatest way to end what was otherwise an excellent night.

    Thankfully, back at camp, I could hear Daniel Donato playing soothing jam music from the Mushroom stage as I fell asleep beneath the stars.

    Saturday, July 1

    Saturday I had a slow start, but was feeling pretty good from the night before. The anxiety caused by the detour turned out to be a temporary thing, and upon waking up Saturday the mountain still looked just as beautiful.

    This was also the night that I would see My Morning Jacket, who have been one of my favorite bands ever since seeing them for the first time at Shaky Knees 2016, and who I reviewed just two weeks prior here in Charleston.

    I hung out at camp all morning and for much of the early afternoon before making my way back down into the venue to check out the one VIP set I caught all weekend, which was Melt.

    Melt (Acoustic Trio)

    Melt (trio) on the VIP Stage. Photo by Chris Huber.

    I first heard of NYC band Melt after seeing their cover of “Deal” featured on Relix in late 2021, and on my drive from Charleston to Scranton I listened to all of the music they had on Spotify, and loved all of it. I decided to check them out on the VIP stage — a small stage cut into the side of a shipping container — on which they played a 30 minute, acoustic trio set at 2pm.

    The VIP stage represents a total change of pace from the main venue and allows listeners to connect directly with the artist, which is a rare thing at an event of this size. The trading off of vocals between frontwoman Veronica Stewart-Frommer and keyboardist Eric Gabriel was especially notable on their 2019 single “Stupid in Love”.

    The band told stories about the songs and their background, and even tried out a new song called “Aurelia” that they’re planning to record this summer. No matter how hard I tried I could not help but tear up during this set, and I carefully wiped them from my eyes as to not alert the folks around me that a grown man had been brought to tears by this New York City band called Melt.

    Melt (Full Band)

    Melt at Peach 2023. Photo by Luda Ronky.

    I caught a little bit of Andy Frasco’s raging party on the Peach stage, and heard him make fun of Goose fans within the first 10 minutes of his set, but I had to pick some time to return to my campsite. I was determined to catch the entirety of Melt’s full band performance, which meant it was time to go back, and it also meant skipping Mike Gordon on Peach.

    The full band included not only drums and bass, but also a trumpet and sax. They presented a similar array of songs, trading out some of the raw emotion put on display during their acoustic set in favor of some serious energy.

    Veronica Stewart-Frommer of Melt on the Mushroom Stage, Peach 2023. Photo by Luda Ronky.

    A cover of Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best”, played as a tribute to the late singer, led into another new song that Melt is testing out prior to recording: “Better Without You”.

    The diversity in Melt’s sound and influences means they could be a great fit for lineups at a wide variety of festivals — from Peach to Bonnaroo, and even Shaky Knees. It makes perfect sense for them to be on a jam lineup such as Peach, given their interest in the Dead and their ability to jam and improvise.

    Melt at Peach 2023. Photo by Luda Ronky.

    Just all around a great band that I hope we will see locally at Charleston Pour House before long. Their newest single “Walk to Midnight” will be released on Friday, July 14.

    To finish out their set, they were joined by Mihali from Twiddle on guitar for a rendition of their 2017 breakout single “Sour Candy”. While it looked like it sounded good, Mihali’s guitar didn’t seem to be coming out of the house system, so I couldn’t really tell. Oops!

    Melt featuring Mihali, Peach 2023. Photo by Andrew Hutchens.

    Les Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade

    View from the lawn during Les Claypool, Peach 2023. Photo by Jake Katznelson.

    Right before Les Claypool took the stage, I went all the way to the top of the hill at the back of the lawn and awaited the onset of the evening. I sat up there scribbling away on my notepad, hearing the legendary bassist and his band conjure up strange sounds from another dimension.

    I remember thinking to myself that it makes sense for Trey Anastasio to be working with Les Claypool on the Oysterhead project, as there is certainly some overlap between the Frog Brigade and the strange improvisational side of Phish.

    It sounds good, but as you listen, it’s nearly impossible to put your finger on why it sounds good. At times, the music becomes so quiet that it’s hardly even there, before returning in an abstract blob of sound.

    Les Claypool at Peach 2023. Photo by AJ Kinney.

    As my notes became more introspective, influenced by a funky looking piece of paper and the open atmosphere at the festival, Les wound down and left the stage open for the main event, My Morning Jacket.

    My Morning Jacket

    My Morning Jacket at Peach 2023. Photo by Luda Ronky.

    My Morning Jacket have been considered one of the best live bands out there for the better part of two decades at this point. This summer in particular has been huge for them, including a much-anticipated return to Bonnaroo for the first time since 2015 — coinciding with the release of MMJ Live Volume 3, which is their full set from Bonnaroo 2004. And, of course, a Saturday night headlining slot at Peach, just two weeks after the epic late night performance at Bonnaroo.

    My Morning Jacket at Peach 2023. Photo by Jake Katznelson.

    Needless to say, I was quite excited to see this band, especially after seeing them in Charleston on the eve of their return to Bonnaroo. That Charleston show was fun, but MMJ are such a festival or multi-night run band and this time slot at Peach gave them the ideal setting.

    Jim James is known to feed off and manipulate the energy of the crowd, as he waltzes around the front of the stage moving his hands like a magician, working our emotions alongside the waves of sound.

    My Morning Jacket at Peach 2023. Photo by Jake Katznelson.

    For this set, I found myself a seat right smack in the center of the Peach stage tent, right behind an old guy who clearly was not going to stand up in front of me. I had an unobstructed centerline view of everything happening on stage, and was blasted in the face by the best Jacket show I’ve seen to date.

    The entire second half of the set, from “Steam Engine” on, was a non-stop and beautiful assault on the senses. “Dancefloors” went into “Happy” by the Rolling Stones and then back into “Dancefloors”, followed by “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream” parts one and two and “Wordless Chorus” as the cherry on top.

    Their set at Peach was everything you would want from a My Morning Jacket show. From unexpected twists, turns, emotional distress, and ultimately an explosive release from anything that might have been holding you back on a personal level prior to the show.

    It’s what we all dream of when going to a concert, and somehow, My Morning Jacket has managed to deliver this each and every time I have seen them.

    This time, they did it all without even playing their biggest hit, “One Big Holiday”.

    “Looks Like Rain”

    The crowd during MMJ. Photo by Jake Katznelson.

    Walking out of the dome following My Morning Jacket was like being placed gently back on earth from a space shuttle. I needed a moment to collect myself, and this I did by wandering over to the Grove stage for a peaceful comedown with the all-female Grateful Dead cover band, Brown-Eyed Women.

    Following this set, storm clouds began to descend upon Montage Mountain. I made the decision to ditch my camera at the campsite, hiking through the venue as The Australian Pink Floyd Show played their opening notes on Peach, and Magic City Hippies took the Mushroom stage.

    Arriving at my campsite, I gathered my essentials in a pile beneath my hammock, where it would be dry, and stayed up all through the night listening to the storm from my hammock. I could hear the Magic City Hippies shout “The End!” as the sky opened up around 1:30am. Then it was just me, the clouds, and the thumping bass from the Thunderdome in section G until the wee hours of the morning.

    The Australian Pink Floyd Show at Peach 2023. Photo by Jake Katznelson.

    Sunday, July 2

    Sunday morning I was beat to hell from the lack of sleep the night before, but luckily I was at least dry. I can’t say the same for my bags, clothes, and food, but my hammock and myself were dry, and I was in good spirits. I trekked back to my truck for one final beer run and got my buzz going early for Kendall Street Company on the Grove stage.

    Kendall Street Company

    Kendall Street Company at Peach 2023. Photo by Luda Ronky.

    After catching Kendall Street Company a few times at the Charleston Pour House, I was looking forward to seeing them in a festival environment. Weeknight shows can be tough for a new touring band to get a sizable, interactive audience, but Peach delivered the target market for Kendall Street Company right to the foot of the Grove stage on Sunday.

    After an overly-long soundcheck, made entertaining by the ad-libbing of famous lyrics by each band member with a mic to check, Kendall Street Company gave an excellent performance that showcased the unique aspects of their band.

    Kendall Street Company at Peach 2023. Photo by Luda Ronky.

    Rather than diving too far into the heady side of being a jam band, they enjoy a more fun, humorous space than many of their contemporaries. This includes ridiculous bouts of crowd involvement, nonsensical lyrics, putting on accents, and playing characters.

    It can be tough for a jam band to be unique these days, but KSC does it well. Even their cover of “Eyes of the World”, a Grateful Dead song so popular that it’s almost too obvious a cover choice, was made different enough to be their own.

    The band themselves were obviously stoked about this too, as they mentioned that the crowd was the most engaged they’ve ever had at a show. Looking forward to what comes next from this band.

    Joe Russo’s Almost Dead

    JRAD at Peach 2023. Photo by Andrew Hutchins

    As Joe Russo’s Almost Dead were sound checking and preparing to take the stage, the sky opened up once again. This time, it caused some technically difficulties on the Peach stage. JRAD were standing there, trying to tune up their instruments and get going, but there was no sound coming out of the house system.

    One can only imagine that the rain soaked something that it shouldn’t have and blew a fuse. It took twenty minutes to get things back up and running, but once they did, JRAD gave a performance that was well-worth the wait.

    Tom Hamilton Jr. calmly expressing soundcheck frustrations. Photo by Andrew Hutchins.

    This band manages to give a unique spin on the Grateful Dead’s music that is even less structured than the Dead themselves were — and that’s saying something. Rather than building up into a jam through a composed section, JRAD often improvise their way entirely through a song, making for an very interesting take on the catalogue.

    Their set-closing “Jack Straw” was so good that it probably made the dudes in Dogs in a Pile wish they chose a different Dead song to cover.

    Ziggy Marley

    Ziggy Marley at Peach 2023. Photo by Andrew Hutchins.

    As I was preparing to make one final trek down to the pavilion for the final two acts of the weekend, Ziggy Marley and Tedeschi Trucks Band, I could hear Mihali playing a bunch of Bob Marley covers on the Mushroom stage. This seemed a little odd considering he was playing right before Ziggy, but I didn’t notice anyone else being taken aback by it.

    By the time Ziggy took the stage, the skies had opened up once again, this time with a severe weather warning that closed down every single vendor by the Mushroom stage. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and was soaked to the bone in my last dry set of clothes.

    I decided that this was the end of my Peach Festival experience, and bummed a cigarette from a friendly concertgoer before making my way back to camp, where I was asleep in my hammock by 9pm, missing Tedeschi Trucks Band and their festival-closing set on the Peach Stage.

    Tedeschi Trucks Band close out Peach 2023. Photo by AJ Kinney.

    Camping Load-Out

    The rains beginning on Saturday night meant that many fans were tapped out by Sunday morning, and the campgrounds began to clear out significantly by midday. Still, Sunday night brought a full moon and one last party to the campgrounds for those who had the energy. All through the night I could hear bouts of wild howling at the moon popping up all around the campgrounds.

    In the morning, we were informed that the campgrounds close at 12pm and it was time to go. I laid up in my hammock for as long as possible, mentally preparing myself for what I thought would be a painful process of getting off the mountain.

    However, by 11am, when I had finally packed all my soaking wet gear into bags, the way off the mountain was simple. I walked down the hill to the shuttle pick-up location, hopped on the first shuttle, and took it to the parking lot. From there I walked to my truck, tossed my bags in the back, and I was back to civilization within half an hour.

    Overall, Peach Festival 2023 was a blast, and I will be returning as often as I possibly can. If you made it this far, thanks for reading, and stay tuned for future festival reviews!

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