Saturday, May 11, 2013

Bottle Rock Uncorked -- A Review of the New Music Festival

This weekend marks the inaugural Bottle Rock Music Festival in Napa -- 5 days of music in the wine country.  Long-time readers know that I am a music festival junkie.  This is my latest adventure -- and I write this Saturday morning as my wife and I prepare for today's festivities.

The verdict?

Bottle Rock delivers where it matters most.  The music.  Unlike Coachella -- which I recently experienced yet again and which was dominated by electronic dance music (EDM) -- Bottle Rock is down and dirty, pure, simple rock and roll.  The line-up is impressive.

Friday night's headliner was The Black Keys -- an unbelievably powerful onslaught of crunchy, bluesy guitar, punctuated by frantic drum beats.  I've seen the Keys before (at Outside Lands a couple years back and at Coachella one year ago), but not like this.  They have earned their stripes as headliners.  And, they are the real deal. THIS is rock and roll.  The Shins -- a favorite of mine -- warmed up the main stage before.  Sounded much better than when I saw them both at Coachella and Outside Lands a few years back.  Vocals stronger.  The band tighter.  But, still, the band pales in comparison to the Keys.  The Keys ARE rock and roll right now (which was proven again Saturday night by the anemic set put in by headliner Kings of Leon).  Edward Sharpe, on the other hand, was magnetic, despite the apparent flu (or being significantly under the influence).  That seemingly 50-piece band is good time flower-child rock and roll.  Perfect for the Napa setting.

The night before?  A band that is very very different.  The Avett Brothers.  Countrified folk and pop -- all fused together -- in a mix of beautiful melodies and meaningful lyrics.  These guys too are the real deal.  The crowd was taken away, me included.  A memorable set.

3 music stages at Bottle Rock -- with music running from noon at 10:30 every night.  When my wife and I first arrived Thursday early afternoon, crowds were thin.  Thought this first-time music festival could be a bust (for the promoters, that is).  But, it isn't.  Crowds were massive yesterday -- and no doubt will be the same today.  The promoters will be just fine.  As they should be.  They have delivered a great world-class festival.  No major hiccups -- which is saying a lot when there is no precedent.  Excellent food choices.  Enough bathrooms.

Despite some kinks (ticket snafus at the gates, a somewhat-pathetic VIP area -- c'mon guys invest in it!) -- and despite a somewhat dumpy venue that I did not expect in the heart of wine country (this is no grassy Coachella polo field) -- Bottle Rock works.  Bottle Rock delivers.  Bottle Rock undoubtedly will be back next year.  Bottle Rock likely is a music festival that is here to stay -- deservedly so.  Wine tasting by day.  Music by night.

And, the weather wants Bottle Rock to succeed as well.  Gorgeous weather in Napa this weekend.  In the 80s in the day.  All sun, all the time.

Enough writing.  I have some music to hear ...

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