This summer’s standout Music Fest was the first annual Rock the Peach held in Penticton, BC.
Situated in Kings Park, it encompassed three soccer fields complete with thick lush grass, existing fencing, and a perfect setting for two stages, artisans and food vendors, and a backstage that boasted an indoor soccer field for the Headliners as part of their ‘green room’.
*(photo by Sam Roberts Band and scooped off Twitter)
Headliners this year were Collective Soul on Friday night, Sam Roberts Band Saturday night, and a solo Ronnie Dunn (Brookes and Dunn) Sunday night. Other bands included War, Three Dog Night, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Glass Tiger, and many more, including entertainment on the DJ stage (Elvis, Belly Dancers, Fire Jugglers etc).
While the headliners were what we expected (and more) we’ll get back to them in a moment. Some of the lesser known bands really surprised us! Standouts include Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, War, Malibu Knights, and Ridley Bent.
Blackie and the Rodeo Kings can be described as funky rocking blues, and had the audience up dancing in mere seconds, despite the intense head of the late afternoon sun on the main stage. From our vantage point, the smiles on both sides of the gulf between band and fans, were wide and genuine. We loved this band so much live, we HAD to buy a cd, which the band then autographed in the merch tent – just before a fan brought them a HUGE home made apple pie!
War is the sort of band that when you hear their name, you either think ‘yes!’ or you think ‘golden oldies’ and wonder how they’ll sound.. they sounded fabulous! The stage was full to the gunnels with band members and gear, and with a somewhat Bob Marley vibe to their rock/blues, they too had the audience out of their lawn chairs and up dancing to the bongo beat. Surprisingly, as they sang song after song, we had flashbacks of hearing those songs on the radio as a youngster and could sing along. War were so good, that they brought out the other musicians to sit side stage and jam on the sidelines, including Ridley Bent and Pat from The Odds. It was really great to see other musicians join the festivities instead of hiding in their dressing rooms.
Malibu Knights are local and were the winners of Battle of the Bands, to take top prize of being the Festivals ‘opening’ band.. they were fabulous! High energy from them all, good musicianship, and a real chemistry on stage that belies their young age. Really great treat.
Ridley Bent is an anomoly! We’ve seen Ridley only twice now – he’s got great tunes – a real story telling way with lyrics and can hold the audience’s attention indefinitely, including ours – but the man is either shy, or in heavy concentration 🙂 He doesn’t smile very often but when he does – he lights up the stage! He’s becoming more comfortable speaking to the audience and making eye contact, so we cant wait to see how his talent develops in the coming years.
Bands that we were disappointed in include Glass Tiger. Frew’s voice was crisp and sharp for most of the set and the band was tight, but when the singer walks on stage and the first thing he says after hello is, ‘where’s the beer tent, cause that’s where I’ll be after the show’, it makes you wonder. The audience too was sparse – not sure if it was due to a late afternoon time slot, or the fact that Glass Tiger has had it’s day (a mere 1600 facebook ‘fans’ compared to say, Walk off the Earth’s 570K +) – and consisted of mostly die hard baby boomers.
Jets Overhead were also not what we expected. We caught them last year opening for Sam Roberts and were somewhat intrigued, but as the band played, it seemed as if they have only one speed, one volume – slow and quiet. Listed by genre as Ambient Rock, there was a distinct lack of rock. By the end of the set we were itching to have them break out in a rocking loud rendition of … something, anything. The energy on stage seemed to match the tempo of the songs as well – and although the songs sounded good, they didn’t hold our attention.
Walk off the Earth was interesting – the music didn’t really stick with us at all, but the moves! This band was incredible.. like they had springs in their feet! Hard to keep up to them after awhile but it was fun to watch!
Friday evening, we sat in our car to get out of the deluge of rain, and watched a parade of baby boomers in tank tops, capris and khakis, enter the venue in the downpour, oblivious to it and anxious to see Collective Soul. We’ve seen Collective Soul a few times over the last years, but this was by far one of their best shows – ever. Frontman Ed Roland sported the shortest hair we’ve ever seen him in (the David Beckham ‘do’) and seemed to have gained new confidence by shedding the faded bleached blond locks. The rest of the band were incredible too – perfect ending to the first evening.
Saturday closer Sam Roberts Band is typically passionate, intense, energetic – like trying to capture the wind. As the night wound down, the band didn’t – that intensity and energy never let up even as Roberts waved, blew a kiss to the audience and disappeared into the blackness of the backstage.
Sunday was Country central as Ronnie Dunn took the stage solo (Brookes and Dunn). With a wickedly obvious sense of humor, and a killer voice, Dunn regaled us with stories and songs under the stars and occasional cloud that flickered across a perfectly full moon. Couldn’t have timed that better!
All in all this weekend was a great event from our point of view. Good bands, a good mix of basic genres (Pop, Rock, Indie, Folk, Blues) to appeal to a wide audience and wide age group – clean, organized grounds, Rock the Peach has the makings of something spectacular . It was great to see bands mixing with each other to ‘talk shop’ or sit on the sidelines to simply listen to someone else’s music, or pick up ideas from other bands. We also got a chance to talk to a few musicians and learn more about music in general, blues, gear and the like. The security people we had dealings with were great too! Polite, easy to talk to, and right on the ball when the odd concert goer got too rambunctious. Our only suggestion would be to schedule the bands further apart – we didn’t get a lot of time to explore the vendors or artisan booths over the three days, and we found ticket prices were somewhat on the high side, especially for anyone wanting to attend a single day rather than all weekend. With more than 10 festivals in an 8 week period in the Central Okanagan area, competition is fierce for attendees – Rock the Peach will need to address this if they hope to pull in higher numbers next year. We hope there is a next year – Rock the Peach is the highlight of our summer thus far!
Our rating 9/10
©nightMair Creative 2012