Rock the…Bottle?

Despite skepticism over Napa hosting its first BottleRock Festival, a five-day long music, wine, and beer festival at the Napa Expo Centre, the event proved to be a raging success. In fact, it attracted an average of 35,000 people per day (unfortunately for the surrounding inhabitants who had to deal with soundwaves penetrating their walls). Now that the Bay Area has Outside Lands, BFD and BottleRock, Coachella ain’t got nothin on NorCal.

Considering that BottleRock was just making its debut this year, logistically it was quite well-planned—with six different bus lines that ran throughout the day, you never had to wait more than five or ten minutes to get a ride back to your hotel or parking area. Will-call was only a few blocks away, and most of the surrounding streets were closed off to allow pedestrians and festival attendees to tread the area freely.

The five-day event featured popular artists both old and new, and there was at least one headliner per day to keep the crowds coming. On Wednesday a charity concert was held by rap stars Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis, which drew crowds despite the fact that Furthur, the other headliner scheduled for BottleRock’s opening night, withdrew due to Bob Weir healing from an injury. Thursday featured 80’s vixen Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Moonalice, The Avett Brothers, Primus, and The Black Crowes. Yet despite having marquee names on the first two days, the festival attracted many more people on the weekend, which is quite understandable. The Shins, The Flaming Lips, The Black Keys, Alabama Shakes and Matt Nathanson were just a couple of the artists that preformed on Friday. Saturday’s lineup included Kings of Leon, Jackson Browne, Bad Religion, Jane’s Addiction, Iron & Wine, as well as Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. The festival came to a successful finish on Sunday with performances by Train, Zac Brown Band, Cake, Michael Franti and Spearhead, The Wallflowers, and Charlie Musselwhite, as well as many other performers who put on fantastic shows (but for the article’s sake, I won’t name all of them).

As for the music attractions, the festival brought many well-seasoned artists to a drunk and happy crowd in Napa. Each and every band that came to the festival was fantastic when performing in front of a live audience, including younger bands like GroupLove and Alabama Shakes. There were plenty of happy, drunken music lovers dancing during each and every performance, which added to the positive vibe of the festival. During Bad Religion’s performance, small mosh pits formed in front of the stage, kicking up some sand that caused lead singer Greg Graffin to joke about sandstorms preventing him from being able to continue performing. The only drawback was that some bands with similar audiences preformed during the same slot, which resulted in many people floating in between stages.

Not only did the event showcase some of the biggest bands on the radio, it also featured a comedy lineup and over forty different wineries from Napa Valley, as well as multiple food booths of the Bay Area’s favorite eateries. Whether you craved hotdogs, pizza, ribs, or even a shrimp cocktail, you were sure to find some grub to fix your cravings (although none of it was cheap).

Speaking of cheap, money actually didn’t seem like an issue for most of the BottleRock attendees. In fact, the festival attracted a large crowd of…er…older people, many of which came from more affluent backgrounds in Napa County, not to mention, the wine probably had a lot to do with it. Even the 4-day VIP tickets sold out, apparently people didn’t mind shelling out $599 for them either.

The weather was warm and sunny, perfect for a music festival occurring in May, and the festival proved also to be a fashion show for girls showing off some skin in sundresses and daisy dukes, many of whom wore flowers in their hair. Luckily, the festival also included a few medical booths spread across the grounds, which offered concertgoers free sunblock lotion, water, and first aid care. There was also a fundraising auction for Autism Chords, a charity hosted by Ebay, which had many fancy wines, signed band memorabilia, and other goodies to raise money for autistic children and research.

BottleRock proved to be a more-than-memorable weekend with an awesome artist lineup, delicious food, and oh, can I forget the alcohol? Look out Coachella! Napa County now has something else to be famed for other than wine, and BottleRock is a music festival that will undoubtedly join the ranks of Outside Lands and other famed festivals of the west.