BottleRock Napa Festival in Review: A Solid Pour

Article by: Art Gimbel

Tue May 14, 2013 | 00:00 AM


Ask anyone in Napa, good things come with age. Much like young wine, a first year festival usually leaves a bitter taste in your mouth — but still swirling and smiling at the end of the night.  BottleRock Napa aged gracefully and went down smoothly, like a festival much beyond their years — all in the course of five days. It was not without its hiccups, but they were short lived and organizers took note, in the age where fans are heard instantly via social media. Even the naysayers became yeasayers by the end of the weekend. Stack a world class line-up in a world-class location and fans will come — and they did.

How did BottleRock stack up against California festival veterans? California’s golden childCoachella has set the bar high as an art and music festival with two big weekends attracting some 90,000 energetic fans. Though the festival is the oldest, it attracts the youngest, hippest crowd of the bunch — almost painfully so. Despite the heat and fashion, it’s the standard by which others are judged.

Golden Gate Park’s Outside Lands is a strong festival attracting around 65,000 attendees.  Its musical lineup is more diverse with a stellar 2013 offering. The threat of goose-bump inducing fog is always a factor by nightfall, but Golden Gate Park is one of the world’s best urban parks.

The Napa Valley is California’s second largest attraction outside of Disneyland. An adult playground for wine and food, it’s now also on the global festival map with around 35,000 attendees during BottleRock’s peak. The warm days and sun rich climate that feeds Napa’s famous grapes keep festival faces smiling. Come May in Napa Valley it’s mostly sunshine, though tempuratures dropped quickly at night. Though the youngest festivals, it was friendly and fun without the pressure. The offering was decidedly upscale with a crowd that was of a Napa vintage, but it seemed to honor its roots. The food was great (though not cheap at around $10 for most items), it was much better than your average festival food. After all, this is Napa where culinary trends are first born.

Screen_shot_2013_05_14_at_2 (1)While the name BottleRock was an easy parody for “Bottleneck”, the festival was surprisingly well organized with on time sets and easy movement around the redwood lined grounds.

This was a meat and potatoes offering. Rock ‘n’ roll, comedy, wine, and food. Back to the basics. I have a lot of love for the simple things in life and as much as much as I love West Coast’s interactive festival art and other distractions, sometimes music (really good music), food, and friends are more than enough.  It may have not pleased everyone, but it rocked what it set out to do. Those in attendance had a solid weekend, and BottleRock will return in 2014. This “UpCal” festival fits a welcome niche of location, demographic, timing, and genre. Well done BottleRock, we raise our glass to you.

Screen_shot_2013_05_14_at_2 (2)Unlike California’s other festival offerings this was a rock festival, in Napa. Jane’s Addition’s Dave Navarro dresses the part with his Louis Vuitton guitarstrap.

Screen_shot_2013_05_14_at_2 (3)The Kings of Leon, Saturday’s headliners.

Screen_shot_2013_05_14_at_3Gabe Meyers, co-founder of BottleRock encouraging philanthrophy in a personal message to attendees.

Screen_shot_2013_05_14_at_3 (1)Alan Stone was fun.

Screen_shot_2013_05_14_at_3 (2)BarrelRock

Screen_shot_2013_05_14_at_3 (3)Happy Fans

Other Weekend Highlights

Screen_shot_2013_05_14_at_3 (4)Grammy winning The Black Keys were Friday’s highlight

Screen_shot_2013_05_14_at_3 (5)The Alabama Shakes

Screen_shot_2013_05_14_at_3 (6)The Avett Brothers

Screen_shot_2013_05_14_at_3 (7)Awesome local food offerings

Screen_shot_2013_05_14_at_3 (8)Cafe Tacuba

Screen_shot_2013_05_14_at_3 (9)Chris Robinson sounding as good as the 90s with the Black Crowes

See you next year!