BottleRock is here. And we can only hope it returns.
Arriving late on Friday, I caught the last half of Andrew Bird’s set. I’ve always thought he would be better in a concert hall than a festival, and I still think that. He was good, but there’s something about the violin and looper pedal that runs counter to the spirit of a big rock show. On the next stage, the Shins, who were rumored to have played a warm-up show the night before at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma to about 15 people, were tight and professional. They’re about as surgically precise as a band can be, sounding just like the record. Almost too perfect, but very good. At the same time, Blues Traveler started tearing into their set. I caught “Run Around” and stayed for a couple songs because, damn, that John Popper can blow! I haven’t heard if he and Charlie Musslewhite, who is also playing the festival, are doing or have done a harmonica duet. I don’t know if the world could handle it.
The set up was similar to Outside Lands, but without the one-mile trek between stages. This meant that no matter where you stood, there was music playing. Not that lines were a big problem (the longest I waited for anything was about 10 minutes), but it would suck to know you’re missing the main reason for the $130 ticket because there is not an adequate number of beer stations. The addition of comedy to the festival was tough, making yet another thing to choose from to watch in addition to the great bands. But the comedy headliner each night (last night was Jim Bruer) started at 10:15, just after the last band. Not sure if that meant more or people would stick around because the rock show was over. But there were lines for each of the other comedians throughout the day.
Before the Flaming Lips took the stage (they were the last act of the second stage), it was time to refuel. There was festival food, but this being Napa, there was so much more. Cochon Volant BBQ actually ran out of buns for its pork sandwich, but the line did not diminish upon this announcement. They served instead a plate of just meat and coleslaw, which was incredible. The deep smoke flavor went nicely with a Sierra Nevada fresh-hop Harvest brew, another culinary upgrade from usual festival fare. Tons of restaurants, including Morimoto (of Iron Chef fame), were dishing up fancy foods. And with what seemed like hundreds of wineries on hand with popup tents and tasting lounges, it felt like a good representation of the California culinary scene. Imagine coming from Philadelphia or New Mexico to a festival that not only cares about food but almost worships it like a groupie does a rock band. It made for a good vibe.
Scarfing down my pork and ‘slaw, I got pretty much front-and-center to see the Flaming Lips. I’d seen them at Treasure Island a few years ago as the headlining act, and they raised the bar for me for festival acts. Frontman Wayne Coyne and company did not disappoint. In fact, they raised the bar yet again. Wayne, in a blue polyester suit, stood atop his lumpy, space-age, shiny bubble pulpit with a baby doll in the crook of his arm, cooing an playing with it while the band rocked around him. I’m glad he didn’t do anything crazy like throw it into the audience or rip its arm off or something. It gave that baby a symbolism it would have otherwise not held. The stage faced the setting sun, meaning the band got to watch a beautiful Napa sunset while the crowd didn’t have to squint at sun spots (good planning, BottleRock!). Coyne remarked how beautiful it was, and said how cool it would be if the sun set and then rose again immediately after (this ain’t Alaska, Wayne). He also praised the festival and thanked “whoever got us to play here” because it was a good thing to be a part of. As it got darker, the light show became more pronounced. Lasers, smoke, a truss of lights that moved down from the sky to just above Coyne’s head and shot strobe lights and huge flood lights across the crowd. Being directly in the center, I was blown away. You’ve seen people put hands on their head in that oh-my-god-what-am-I-even-seeing-right-now move of disbelief? That was me several times during this performance. Luckily, there are photos to help explain, because words are hard sometimes. The Flaming Lips received a well-deserved ovation, prompting a real encore (the lights had even come back on already). All this while the headliners, the Black Keys were about half an hour into their set already. People stayed for the Flaming Lips encore, and almost demanded a second encore.
The Black Keys were good. Even had a full band for the second half of their set. But if someone could explain why this is the end-all-be-all of bands right now, I’d love to listen. They rock, yeah, I dig that. But Blues Traveler rocks, too, though I suppose they had their time in the sun as well. Leaving the festival was relatively uncomplicated. There were plenty of volunteers directing the masses to the shuttle locations, and five shuttles filled and left at one time, so there wasn’t much of a wait. Upon arriving at the, ahem, parking lot, it was a different story. I hope everyone loaded their car’s location into Google Maps as a “favorite location,” because with no lights whatsoever and no volunteers directing the crowd, finding your car out of 10,000 in five separate lots would be tough. I parked at the back of a lot, and was really hoping I remembered correctly which one because it’s a 15-minute walk back to the dropoff point, and who knows how long from there to the other lots. I was right, and left with little delay.
One more point is the sound. It was excellent, but could have been a little louder on the main stage, especially for the Black Keys. Maybe this was a city ordinance thing, but it’s a rock show. Give it some gas!
The full lineup for Bottle Rock Napa Valley has been announced. It includes The Black Keys, Alabama Shakes, Zac Brown Band, Furthur featuring Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, Kings of Leon, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Primus, The Flaming Lips, Jane’s Addiction, Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite, The Shins, Bad Religion, Iron and Wine, Dirty Projectors, Dwight Yoakam, Edward Sharpe, Mavis Staples, Best Coast, Sharon Van Etten, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Cake, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Carolina Chocolate Drops, The Wallflowers, Blues Traveler, Brandi Carlile, Donovan Frankenreiter, Grouplove and many, many more.
The festival runs May 9-12 at the Napa Expo, with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis kicking off the festivities on Wednesday, May 8. The Macklemore show is free to 3- and 4-day pass holders, and individual tickets for the show, at $29, will go on sale “at a later date.”
Confirmed acts for Thursday, May 9 include Furthur, the Black Crowes, Primus, ALO, Violent Femmes and Cafe Tacuba.
Confirmed acts for Friday, May 10 include the Black Keys, Alabama Shakes, Flaming Lips, Dirty Projectors, Andrew Bird, the Shins, Blues Traveler, Tristan Prettyman, Vintage Trouble, Flagship, Justin Townes Earle. and Allah-Las.
Confirmed acts for Saturday, May 11 include Kings of Leon, Jane’s Addiction, Bad Religion, Ben Harper, Edward Sharpe, Dwight Yoakam, Iron & Wine, Best Coast, Sharon Van Etten, Tift Merritt, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Allen Stone, Donovan Frankenreiter, and RNDM.
Confirmed acts for Sunday, May 12 include the Zac Brown Band, Train, Michael Franti, the Wallflowers, Rodrigo y Gabriela,Cake, Grouplove, Brandi Carlile, Rogue Wave, Mavis Staples, Charlie Musselwhite, and Erin O’Hara.
Ticket pre-sales start Sunday, Feb. 3, at 10am, on the festival’s own site. Prices are as follows:
Three-Day Pass (Fri.-Sun.): $299.
Four-Day Pass (Thurs.–Sun.): $399.
VIP Reserve Passes (includes VIP parking, viewing area, VIP afterparties): $599.
The first 700 Napa County locals to join the “Highway 29″ club will get $70 off, with
details to be announced Feb. 2 full details just announced: if you are a Napa County resident and pledge to walk, bike, skateboard, carpool or take public transportation to the festival, you will get a presale code for the $70 discount. The pledge also involves letting people from out of town crash at your house, and to “display kindness in the face of frustration and patience in dealing with the inevitable hiccups of a first-year festival.” (UPDATE: After just an hour of signups, all of those 700 locals-only presale codes are completely spoken for.)
In honor of the Superbowl, 49er fans can use the code “GOLDRUSH” to get $49 off.
As of yet,
no individual day tickets are announced, but based on what I know about festival ticket sales in general, I can predict that there will likely come a time when individual day tickets become available. UPDATE: Single-day tickets go on sale on Wednesday, Feb. 20. Individual day tickets are $129.
A full comedy lineup is expected to be announced in mid-February, and food, beer and wine will naturally be part of the festival as well.
The excellent lineup is a massive coup: Bottle Rock is being put on not by Live Nation, Another Planet or Goldenvoice but by two Napa locals, Gabe Meyers and Bob Vogt, who had a hand in the resurrection and reopening of the Uptown Theatre. Needless to say, it’s a huge deal for Napa.
More details here as they come in.
Bottle Rock Napa Lineup: Black Keys, Alabama Shakes, Macklemore, Flaming Lips, Ben Harper, Shins, Bad Religion, Jane’s Addiction, Furthur, Many More (UPDATED)
The lineup for the totally crazy Bottle Rock Napa Valley music festival running May 8-12 has been announced, and boy, is it nuts. Can we just say it right now: Best North Bay Festival Lineup Ever?
The Black Keys
The Flaming Lips
Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite
Iron and Wine
Rodrigo y Gabriela
Michael Franti & Spearhead
By my count, that’s about seven bands that are huge headliners in their own right, plus a lot of festival heavy-hitters. Not to mention: there are over 40 bands scheduled to descend on the Napa Valley for the festival, with a complete lineup and full info promised for this Friday.
The festival runs May 8-12 primarily at the Napa Valley Expo, which will have four stages. Other shows are at various venues around town, including the Uptown Theatre. Food, wine, craft beer, comedy, and afterparties throughout downtown are all part of the deal.
I’ll say it again: This is nuts.
VIP and group tickets go on sale here on Feb. 3; public tickets go on sale on Feb. 10. We’ll update here as more info. comes in.
UPDATE, Jan. 30: According to the festival’s Facebook page, three-day passes are $299, four-day passes are $399 and VIP Reserve passes for $599. Locals get a discounted rate with three-day passes at $229, four-day passes at $329, and VIP for $529.)
UPDATE II, Jan. 31: The Black Crowes have this festival listed on their official website tour dates. Also, little birdies are chirping that Macklemore is playing a kickoff show for the festival , and judging by the festival’s first-ever tweet, that’s probably very likely. There’s also a “leaked” lineup going around that is almost certifiably fake.
UPDATE III, Feb. 1: Lots of news this morning.
Added to the festival: Jane’s Addiction, Kings of Leon, Furthur featuring Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, Primus, Zac Brown Band, Dwight Yoakam, and Cafe Tacuba.
Ticket prices are as listed above. As of yet, there are no single-day tickets announced. Napa Valley locals, artist fan club members, community partners and “Friends of the 49ers” will be able to buy 3- and 4-day passes starting Feb. 3. Passes go on sale to the general public on Feb. 10.
The Macklemore show is Wednesday, May 8, and is free for all three- and four-day passholders. Individual tickets will be sold to this show as well at $29, available Feb. 10.
Headliners by Day:
Wednesday, May 8: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
Thursday, May 9: Furthur, the Black Crowes, Primus
Friday, May 10: Black Keys, Alabama Shakes, the Shins
Saturday, May 11: Jane’s Addiction, Bad Religion, Ben Harper, Edward Sharpe
Sunday, May 12: Zac Brown Band, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Cake
The incredible thing is that this festival is not being put on by Live Nation, Goldenvoice, or even Another Planet. It’s being put on by two Napa locals, Gabe Meyers and Bob Vogt, who had a hand in the resurrection and reopening of the Uptown Theatre.
I’ll say it yet again: This is nuts.
The Black Keys – Attack & Release (Nonesuch): I’d always written off these guys as a retro act, because for years that’s essentially what they were. But for this completely excellent album, they’ve dropped all ties to Cream and sound off with fresh sonic fabric: there’s organ, flute, tambourine, piano, bass clarinet, and the whole thing has an incredibly warm, organic quality to it that their last album lacked. The songs are great, Marc Ribot and Ralph Carney are on it, Danger Mouse doesn’t cheese it up too hard and the whole thing’s a slam dunk. If this is the new white boy blues, sign me up.
Nick Cave – Dig, Lazarus, Dig! (Anti-): Homeboy is on a roll. I loved Abbatoir Blues, didn’t care for Grinderman, but this is back on track. “Moonland” has that great brooding quality, and there’s a few litanies with spoken-sung lyrics, as in “We Call Upon the Author.” Not too many people can pull off the sermon thing the way Nick Cave does, and he gets downright Dylanesque on the 8-minute closing cut, “More News From Nowhere.”
Boredoms – Super Roots 9 (Thrill Jockey): Other than Seadrum / House of Sun, there’s been no existing recording of the Boredoms that comes close to capturing the band’s mind-blowing live shows. Until now. This live set, from 2004, has the three-drummer setup with Yamatsuka Eye on electronics and—get this—a 24-piece choir. If you’ve been longing for more of the drum-based pounding that the Boredoms plunged headlong into at the turn of the millennium, pick this up.
Man Man – Rabbit Habits (Anti-): This will inevitably get compared to Tom Waits, but that’s not fair to either Waits nor Man Man. Sure, there’s circus elements, gravelly vocals, and stompy bluesy tracks (“Big Trouble”), but on the whole this is just a really quirky, creative record. Yes, the guitarist has obviously been studying his Ribot (“Easy Eats or Dirty Doctor Galapagos”) and the vocalist goes into those high squeaks that Waits nails so well (“Top Drawer”) but I don’t think Waits fans will find a lot here to embrace. It’s more of a Sleepytime Gorilla Museum thing.
Mountain Goats – Tallahassee (4AD): The victory of this day is beyond instant human comprehension, my friends. The Mountain Goats’ Tallahassee, after six years, has finally been released on vinyl. Praise almighty, 4AD! This was the second greatest album released in the year 2002 and remains the best Mountain Goats album by far. One of the most mesmerizing opening songs ever—such construction, such poetry—and “No Children” will fuck you up so badly you won’t know what hit you. Get this, get this, get this.