• Don Lichterman

'What a Shit Show of a Fest' feat. Trey, SCI, moe., Phil, more at Peach Festival at Montage Mountain

Have you ever thought about doing the opposite considering every decision made is the wrong one?

After arriving to my my place in this self described award winning resort called 'The Hideout', I realized right away that I chose the wrong house.

Driving into the area, I saw a handwritten sign in black marker nailed to a tree outside of some house that said, 'Order Fresh Butchered Chickens' with the number listed below it.

I knew very quickly that I was not in my normal element which honestly, I totally took for granted in itself.

After all, I was a mere 2 to 3 hours from Philadelphia, one of the largest markets in the USA.

The Peach Festival itself seemed pretty sweet and easy as I drove into the VIP Parking Lot area. It did not take me that long at all to walk into the venue which was the Amphitheatre at Montage Mountain again, in the Poconos region in northern Pennsylvania.

Thursday night, the music was great. I walked in during Billy Strings and I saw the entire Pigeons Playing Ping Pong set where Billy Strings happen to come out for a pretty decent long period of time.

String Cheese Incident (SCI) was great. It was a throwback to the 2001 era although they do have this Ambient or Electronic vibe or layer now in some jams that was not there back then.

It was a great groove and Pigeons is exciting.

I stayed around for the late night set. I do not know any of their songs (setting aside covers they did like 'Psycho Killer' by the Talking Heads) although in reality, I really have only seen them now like 1 and a 1/2 times total (I walked in that afternoon during their set last year at Lockn' Festival).

The Festival production though was very confusing to me.

First off, I got some email the day before I split saying something about VIP getting access to the PIT area. Yet, I could have sworn that I had a Row U ticket in Section 103.

I could not tell if I was in my seat or if it was General Admission when got into the amphitheatre. I said to the people when I came up that they were in my seat. Now I understand why they looked at me for an extra few seconds wondering what I meant I guess. We eventually began to talk and so if there was any weirdness, that was washed away but I am realizing all of that pretty much now.

I still do not understand how that works. It seems as if they set times where it is GA and then it is not at other times.

Which think about that, that is just going to create weird havoc, let alone confusion. And, if it's done part of the night and not the entire evening or show, that is insane because you could have a seat, but then get caught out when they they are about to let in any other people for the GA portion of the night. Therefore, if whomever is in your seat after you are allowed back into the section or area, who gets precedent. Whose seat it?

It makes zero sense.

That almost happened to me one of the nights. I had to go down further to another entrance and exit area where the security guy let some us through before the rush.

Besides, I have never in the history of my life been to a so called festival days long where there were assigned seats. I have never been to a Farm Aid, but I know they did it at Alpine some years. I am not sure how that worked but this threw me for many loops as to why they would have assigned seating at a so called music festival.

Let alone one 4 days long.

Plus, the rules as to what is General Admission or the times it is and not is absolutely mind boggling. I should NOT have to think about that issue while I am at any show.

Also after I walked in, I knew they were selling specific types of beer from the Troeg's Brewing Company. That was also in the email. Little did I know until I ordered my first of many Sunshine Pilsner beers, that they were pulling cans from the actual six packs. They were NOT using kegs.

That also made no sense to me.

I will say that in that VIP section up near the concession area towards the Live Music Stage, there were these portable bathrooms carted in and boy man did I find them to be the nicest public and portable type of bathroom that I had ever been in. I tried ti get pictures but then I realized that probably does not look so great to people that have no clue why I was taking pictures inside a public bathroom.

Further, there was no vegetarian food to speak of (not including pizza and french fries) and as a matter of fact, it was such meat haven that there was a Jerky tent set up inside the vendor section on the other side of the venire from where I entered on Thursday. I was told that there was some veggie items by the Mushroom Stage which was a mile away from the Main Stage or what is called the 'Peach Stage.' I had to park that day by the entrance or exit near the old Grove Stage and the now Live Music Stage I believe it is called today.

I left Thursday night Friday early AM to head back to The Hideout Resort.

Friday morning, I went out to eat breakfast at Lori's Corner Kitchen in Hamlin, Pennsylvania.

After that, I want to the beach at Lake Ariel to rent a kayak. I was out on that Lake for a few hours that afternoon and then I went back to the Festival for Friday Night's gigs.

I could NOT wait to see String Cheese again.

However, this was a great lineup for me so long as I did the hikes back n forth from stage to stage. Which of course I did not but my goal was to see moe. that late afternoon, Dopapod, String Cheese's first set and then I was supposed to run back to the Mushroom Stage to see the Big Something. I never made it because I played games during that set break which BTW, after Lockin last year, I do NOT want any breaks,. Hell, I hated that last break before the Dead & Co with Branford before they came out and that was the only time there was a set break all weekend there last year. Where there was a gap in between sets. And, I still felt like it was pulling teeth watching them change up equipment.

Regardless, of how festivals should be run, I also realized that for Thursday night when I went to my supposed seat, that I went to the wrong section. I sat in in Section 101 basically where my seat was or should have been in Section 103. I'll be honest with y'all, I would have gone way down low if I knew I had the run of the place and wait a second here, I was stopped at one point saying that there was some Super VIP Section that I could NOT go down to.

I still do not get how that seating situation is set up.

For instance before and during moe., I went down low. I thought everything was fine but then I noticed some clambering behind me which was about me and to the guy next to me. Later on, the dude next to me, pointed at me. I was thinking what enemy do I have here at the Festival, let alone that knows moe.

moe. and I have some history where not all of it was great, but we very much ironed it out 10 years ago. Plus, I have seen them a few times since and so I was spiralling on it so much only to realize that it was about me being down low in what I bet was the Super VIP area.

You see I had befriended the guy next to me. I had then gone to befriend this guys friends that was clambering about me and he did not take to my greeting at all. I realized that so I backed off not saying a word to them any more. For some reason after I pulled a rather passive aggressive move let's just say, the guy and the girl clambering sat down in whatever seat. Not for some reason, I did it to shut them up I did it to make sure that if he or anytone continues to talk to shit about me, that I could bite back.

These holy than thou people that do get part of their fifteen minutes of fame so to speak, act like a bully.

The problem is that I seem to run into these issues at shows a lot, however it is on the other end. I am never in anyone else's seat anymore.

I was in the aisle too. I was NOT even in anyone's seat but who knows, maybe I was not allowed in the Super VIP's entire area, including the aisle.

Regardless, do I need to overstate the obvious here that if I happen to be in another person's seat or area, just tell me and you know what would occur? I would move out of anyone's way.

I swear these Super VIP's and VIP Sales creates this thing where people get to use part of their fifteen minutes of fame.

One guy later on in that same area, pushed me, and I turned around to say dude, those are fighting words. He buckled of course and what was worse is that I saw that he was NOT even in that correct seat.

Nothing made any sense but most of all, if that crap continues where people get 'Super VIP' muscles, there is going to be problem one time where someone will fight. If that has not already happened at these events.

I have heard other horror stories where bands fans would stand with their backs to the band down in that lower area at this amphitheatre.

This just breeds trouble.

Anyway, I am way off here not even remotely talking about the music.

I was NOT that impressed with moe.'s set.

That guitar player with the bald head totally carried the set. He startled me at one point because I had no clue he was so close to the end of the stage when I turned my head to the right.

He shredded for much of that set.

The other thing I liked was a solo using that xylophone.

It was part of some song and it wailed. They then followed that jam with a song with it as the focal part that was cool too but not on the level of the jam in that song prior to that one.

They also did one of my favorite Allman Bros. Band tunes, 'In Memory of Elizabeth Reed' and I think every band should do an Allman Bros. Band song in their set at the Peach Festival.

I just decided that right now.

That should be unwritten rule or concept but overall though, I have seen moe. soar musically and I just did not get that with this set. I would have liked to see how much they filled the venue air way back at the top of the lawn in that venue.

I remember when I saw them at Bonnaroo 2004, I was walking in the way back of that venue or wherever the main stage is at, and the sound was huge. I walked close to my VIP area to see that it was moe. I could not believe how much they filled the room musically and so to speak considering its outdoors.

I just did not get that at this show. But I liked it and I will always have this thing with moe.

I also maintain that if I had a crack at working that band, I could have gotten them way up to a huge level. That dates back to their deal with Epic or Columbia. I am literally laughing out loud because that was a funny deal. But then again, what would I have done with them at say MCA or wherever I was at that time? I don't think they did more than one record with them and that label was probably like what the hell is going on here with this band. I am thinking Benji Gordon signed it but then again, I can't remember who signed that band.

I do believe that was after Jerry died or leading up to the mid 90's from what I remember, but before Phish broke into the stratosphere which I hesitate to say that because even in 93 and 94 Phish was playing 20K seat venues. However, for the sake of my point, I am underscoring that situation and remember too, the Grateful Dead was the same way. No one one knew them for all intent and purposes, but they would do major venues since I was a kid.

Anyway, back to the Peach that night. I then ran over to see Dopapod since I had met the bass player at the 930 'pop-up' Bar thing inside of the Merriweather Post Pavilion. That was at a Phish show though and they were amazing here at this Festival. I stayed for a bunch of that set and it was also packed with people.

I ran back to get to the String Cheese Incident set, I had the same vibe as the night before where it is a throwback to the era in the early 00's, however mixed with that high level ambient sound. I know they did 'Outside and 'Inside' and I told the person I was with that were going to play the reprise way later on the evening when we least remember it was played in the first place.

But that was wishful thinking because it never happened.

It was a great set of music played a high level. String Cheese is on fire these days. Or at least when I have seen them my one to two times over the last few years, they have been great for the likes of me. I love when whats his face plays the Mandolin.

I should have been walking back over to the Mushroom Stage to see the Big Something, but all I did was play games on my cell phone with my friend from Denver. I discovered all these ways to make my face into a fire and smoke breathing dragon along with many other things.

I felt like I was 8 years old which is why it was so much fun.

So I did not leave my seat that entire set break.

The next String Cheese set was also at a great level. I cannot for the life of me remember what they played but every song and all jams were at a great level all night long.

The late night set for me was also great because I got to hear a slew of Allman Bros. Band songs. Plus, it was on the Mushroom Stage which was right near where my car was parked Friday Night. I was able to bolt after their set rather easily and sweetly but it was Greg's kid, Devon Allman in the band. Along with Dickie's kid, Duane Betts and then Berry's kid, Berry Oakley Jr. that in part, make up the Allman-Betts Band.

Having the ability to play that A. Bros. repertoire is a treat although they did 'Purple Rain' (Prince) late night too.

I had a great time. It was a great night of music.

Did I mention the food situation? Before the Greensky Set at the Peach Stage is when I finally made it back to Mushroom Stage. Fruition was playing while I was ordering and waiting for my Grilled Vegetable sandwich that was supposed to be a 'Veggie Cheesesteak'.

The food situation was downright horrible as yeah, the idea of this vender at least as what they called a 'veggie cheesesteak' was throwing grilled veggies on bread. I did not realize that was what I was biting into until I got a few steps away. As a matter of fact, there was no types of cheese even on it and yet it is in the name of the item. I threw most of it out as some hottie that was working at another vendor was watching me trying to get through eating it but after tossing it in that can, off I ran back to the main stage.

I definitely have heard of Fruition and I cannot for the life of me remember where I have heard them before. I do know that Natalie (Cressman) is doing some special thing in Lisbon, Portugal that seems very artist driven with those members participating in the event. I am not really sure what the event is but again, it looked like a musicians, musicians (meaning aficionados) type of an event. And, even though I do NOT that think that they are there as unit, they are there as individual players. Who knows what i am trying to articulate here. I wish I had more to tell you because I saw and heard maybe about 4 minutes of their music. I was also checking out things around me. I think they sounded like they do well together but again, I will have to see them for real. They must be great players though is also my real point.

The next day on Saturday I went out to Bushkill Falls.

I did about 2.1 miles total which was fine. There was some decent inclines because of course I went the opposite way. I basically started where people end although and again, I was fine with it. At first, there was no one on the trail which I know why of course since I was walking on what was the exit or opposite way for everyone else. But not until the end did I see people. And, even then, I only saw a handful of people out on those trails that day.

I headed back to Lake Ariel where I went to that beach. It was packed and it was boring and so I rented a kayak to hang out on that lake for a couple of hours.

That was the best part of my entire trip I am thinking. Being out on that water for that span of time was great. It was easy too. Even if a motorboat went by, the ripples of waves were not even an issue. I should have brought my phone but after the incident at Mohegan Spun where I let it drop into a facade of a pond insider that casino hotel, I would NOT even chance it considering how much I drop shit these days.

I thought I was going to be fried from the sun but I ended up being ok.

After getting out about 40 large black ants from the bedroom I was staying in at the house I rented over the weekend, and back out to the back porch, I headed back to the Festival grounds. I did find some 'Off' bug spray (which I would never use in real life but I could not find Cinnamon in this rental) underneath the sink and so I was able to at least keep them out from then on. But, the damage was done. They were in my suitcase. I had one in my car and I only managed to see two dead ones when all was said and done.

Anyway, this was the night of music I was most psyched for this weekend. We have Trey and the band along with JRAD and then Greensky basically opens.

This is now the third time I believe that I am seeing Greensky Bluegrass. There is not a doubt that I recognized at least two of the songs that they played during this long set at the Peach.

They also did an Allman Bros. Band cover, 'Ain't Wastin' Time No More' and again, I maintain everyone should do an A. Bros. track at the Peach.

It was a solid set in a solidly weird venue and moreover, in odd seating situation. Much of the front was wide opened seat wise and I still saw people downlow asking ushers to get people out of seats which brings me back to why bring an usher into it? Just say to the person that they are in one's seat after showing them the ticket. Oh, wait. Part of one's fifteen minutes of fame is garnered by having that power at the Peach Festival. How blind of me thinking that basic.

'Trey' also came out but it was not the Trey you think, it was someone that happened to be named Trey (I did not get the last name when they announced it) that works with Greensky. It was a very funny joke that had me duped for a few seconds until their Trey hit the stage.

That was a good set by a great band. These guys do not have a drummer. And, they still have a huge sound because they play so well together. One of the dudes is from Philly. The others are from Michigan I think and they are playing that Pier 7 in New York City this week. That's gonna be sick. I have never been to that venue yet. I am very psyched to check it out.

Then came Trey's band (Trey Anastasio Band (TAB)) with Natalie (Cressman), Jenn (Hartswick) and I am not sure of the other four players but man are they sick.

That bassist is insane. He has got to be one of the top bass players in that jam band scene let alone in general. He really stood the hell out to me that night. I certainly do NOT remember being this over the top over that dude until now.

The keyboard player is also way solid. He had great leads and great fills along with leading in major jams. I also had know idea he was able to go off as much as he did this night and in TAB.

The drums were solid and there are three horns. They are the best at what they they do which we will talk about because I have lots to say about that horn section.

I was way psyched about the songs played. If not for nuttin' as they say, I knew most of them which is unprecedented for me.

They opened with 'Set Your Soul Free' and then did two or three Trey songs that I knew.

There was a 'Giboo' and a 'Sand' in there somewhere and then 'Everything's Right' which I am not sure why, but I thought Mike sang that song. They also did 'Blaze On' which I had no clue he did with his solo projects and then 'Shine' I knew too from Phish. A few others like 'Simple Twist of Dave' which I have heard at Phish shows and I forget what else they played but they gave everyone two amazing sets of music.

However, there were two horn styled jams in particular that were very 'big band' sounding and it was wonderful.

Holy shit was that everything i want in my life but cannot go back to the 20's or 30's or 40's.

Maybe it was in 'Magilla' which is another one I Have seen somewhere along the lines but yeah, these horn styled jams were something else. You could NOT even hear trey and nor did you need to hear him. For me to say that this coherent sounding thing was going on with Trey Anastasio on guitar and yet it did not matter, is something I am not even sure I can say out loud (because of course you need him to guide the overall level and I get everyone follow suit accordingly but even still).

That was some sick shit and remember, that is NOT even talking about the Trey jamz which were huge all night long. We touched into the keyboard and/or piano jamz which was just highlight after highlight when it came to that playing.

The Bass Player even guided much of that music that night.

Collectively, they swirled amounsgt each so perfectly. It was the best and most of all, it was just great all around.

However and again, we must find some way to truly garner that overall horn sound we got in say those two jams during these TAB sets. Not only into one project, but we also need to sustain that same level of play for like 2 or 3 hours in a given night.

If this is out there and I am missing it, someone needs to grab me fast so I can see that sooner than later.

And, forget lyrics or who cares about lyric content if you can get that to a high level where you cannot even hear someone say the word hello to the person next to you, let alone where you need to hear Trey on guitar (which is generally what I need in my life, Trey on Guitar).

I wish we had an entire band or night of music like that or what I will refer to as being 'prohibition style'.

It would the second greatest dance party around. Maybe the third if you count things like Tomorrowland (which I have never been to) and that's presuming that I think that Phish of course is the best dance party around today.

Honestly, even though I have listened through a bunch of songs from these sets, I must get the two songs I speak about with the sick horn jams.

In what I considered to be like some after thought occurs with me as someone says something about Joe Russo not being at the venue for the show. I am, assuming that was during Trey's set break when someone told me that news. Considering the name of the band is Joe Russo's Almost Dead, I was set there baffled yet again.

His (drum) tech and some other guy filled in using two drums in this ensemble of JRAD.

It was still a great show. They played totally well together and honestly, it did not skip a beat so speak. The long extended set was a great one.

Oh and Joe Russo and his wife had a baby that day or maybe it was the day before it. The people next to me said they were three weeks ahead of schedule.

I found out later that drum tech was 19 years old. He should do well in life. That was a great gig for him to play at and they should get him into a band worthy or he will find his way. 19 years old though, that is great to be able to play Grateful dead material.

I love these stories, but after that set, I bolted to get back to the my house at 'The Hideout' Resort area.

Sunday, I decided to head back to New Jersey early. I had a glimmer of thought to stop at the Poconos Raceway for an event they were having this Sunday. However, I wanted to get back to work.

Besides, I did not care about seeing Warren Haynes or Phil. The last time I saw Phil at the Asbury Park Convention Center, it was downright awful. It was one of the worst shows that I have ever been to in my life.

And, though I love Warren (Haynes) as a human in life. I had dinner with him one night in 97 or 98. He also picked up one of my ex girlfriends that happen to faint in back of me at Beastie Boys shows at Irving Plaza and his wife at that time in the 90's was so nice to me as a record label person. Musically though, he is just a bit linear playing wise for me but that's me.

Oh and I hate Jon Scofield's wife. She's an arrogant asshole so I did not need to support his work at all.

There was no reason for me to be at that venue that night. It was a great weekend of music.