BottleRock photo taken by Grady Brannan.
BottleRock returned this past weekend in Napa Valley, California, if you were lucky enough to score tickets and brought with you a covid vaccine card or a negative test result within 72 hours prior to entering the sold out, highly anticipated festival.
What was hotter, the 95 degree heat, or headliner Megan the Stallion and her dancers twerking to “WAP”?!
Rising star Jessie Reyez felt the heat too. She reminded a sea of excited fans that she was the hottest one out there. Not only because of her hit song ‘Figures’ or her long flowing curly hair, but because she was on stage commanding the crowd closely, running across the stage, singing and dancing with the sun bearing down. The Toronto based artist didn’t miss a beat at her first festival appearance in over a year, captivating the audience with her energy, splendor, and truthful songs.
Another highlight of the weekend was The Black Pumas. The band ever so comfortably cooled everyone down from the sun-drenched fields with their soulful set. Lead singer Eric Burton performed masterfully on their hit song ‘Colors’ channeling the positive, comeback energy flowing throughout the Napa Valley expo grounds while he belted the unifying lyrics from the band’s recently Grammy nominated album bearing the same name as the song.
The festival achieved the holy grail of bookings, with performances for everyone; a family friendly affair to a perfect weekend for friends, a couple’s getaway or a teenage festival dream. Some of the featured all-star performers included Miley Cyrus, G-Eazy, Mavis Staples, Portugal. The Man, Talking Heads Jerry Harrison with Turkuaz, Maren Morris, Jack Harlow, Milky Chance, Suki Waterhouse, Run the Jewels, LCD’s James Murphy, Cage the Elephant, and Big Freedia who were among the plethora of global headliners sprinkled throughout the festival grounds. The only complaint was that it made it hard to choose, but a win no matter which set you caught.
What was more impressive, the star-packed musical lineup or the food and beverage offerings from the best purveyors in the Napa Valley? It was a music festival and a wine and food festival together, showcased well at the popular Williams Sonoma Culinary Stage. It was a fun sensory overload with a ready-to-groove crowd in their festival wear and the smells of Bay Area canna-culture and wood oven pizza amongst the live sounds of your music collection on shuffle.
The festival moved fast. They say time flies when you’re having fun?! Blink and you might miss The Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl hopping on stage with Guns N’ Roses, Jose Andres, or even talking about Hanukkah on a small stage in the back. Pop-Punk royalty Avril Lavigne jumped on stage with her boyfriend Mod Sun, and rapper Kosha Dillz popped up doing a song about Tommy Pickles the Rugrat during DJ Logic’s sets.
The sustainability effort of the festival didn’t go unnoticed, making BottleRock one of the most sustainable festivals I’ve attended in years. Between the refillable water stations, compostable service-ware, reusable wine glasses and single use plastics were not to be found. BottleRock made a future-forward example for other music festivals around the country.
The Foo Fighters closed out the festival with an energetic set full of classics and hits from their album discography, along with classics and covers from The Bee Gees and Queen, leaving the crowd belting along to fan-favorite hits like “My Hero” at Dave Grohl’s invitation.
The real heroes of BottleRock, the organizer Tom Hoppa and his dedicated staffers; the unsung heroes of the agents, managers, publicists, and crew dealing with the minute to minute changes over 2.5 years. They pulled off a world class (and sold-out) festival that was delayed twice due to the pandemic, with headliners and acts like Stevie Nicks and Chris Stapelton who had to drop out, the threat of wildfire smoke and a new virus variant. The t-shirts lines were long, the wine flowed on, the fans gave the bands their cheese, the silent discos rocked silently, the artists brought their best, and everyone left in good health with a smile and a selfie. The best thing is we don’t have to wait a year to do it all over again, BottleRock will be back in just 8 months, May 27th-29th, 2022.