BottleRock 2018 is a music festival similar and one of the leaders in festivals happening this year. It was attended by over 40,000 fans every day, there were headliners like Muse, Snoop Dog and Bruno Mars, it was well organized, efficiently run, with 5 stages, an amazing assortment of food booths and food trucks, a kid’s area, even a silent disco. Some of the differences were the location and size of the venue. Napa is a small northern California town and the location of the festival was at the Napa Valley Expo Fairgrounds.
The festival begins like any other, arriving by car, or Uber, bike or bus, standing in line to get through security, this year with metal detectors. The list of “No’s” to bring with you to this festival were the standard no drinks, no drugs, no weapons, but also included no food and no umbrellas and no chairs! Upon entering the festival there are the mostly young, very energetic, happy, dancing, talking, laughing crowds of friends, posing in front of the wall of wine barrels or the Love Sculpture by Laura Kimpton.
It was incredible that the promoters could pack so much good time into such a seemingly small location. There was a culinary stage featuring famous chefs like Morimoto and Aaron Sanchez, athletes like Shaun White, or rappers like Snoop Dog, all cooking up their favorite recipes live and on the big screen. The food available for purchase at the booths and trucks ranged from pulled pork to pizza, lobster mac & cheese to coconut basil popsicles. The Craft beers and local Napa Valley wines available were endless, and there even was a booth selling mixed drinks, with specialties like a chili lime margarita
First up Trombone Shorty, the New Orleans born trombone and trumpet player, singing a little hip hop with funk. Great way to get in the festival mood with his clean sounds and jazzy beat.
Always a favorite classic of mine, Earth Wind & Fire. Currently, with 9 members, the crowd watching was on their feet with the first blending sound of the brass instruments and the smooth voices of the band. Singing songs like “Sing a song” and “That’s the way of the world”, these still handsome gentlemen in their sparkly suits mesmerized the fans with their dancing and swaying and strutting on stage. A band that never disappoints.
Into the evening of the 1st day brought Incubus to the stage. A rock band from the 90’s, with currently 5 members including 3 from their original high school group. The hauntingly clear and melodic voice of lead singer Brandon Boyd, held the crowds attention, pouring his heart out on the stage, long hair swinging, everyone surging forward. These were all die-hard incubus fans singing the words along with the band to songs like “a kiss to send us off” and “love hurts”.
The next day started off with Michael Franti, an American musician and poet, who is also an outspoken advocate for peace and social justice issues. Michael brought so much passion to his set with songs like “is love enough”, his soulful harmonic music flows through your body like warm water and everyone was on their feet and swaying.
Next up on the main stage was Billy Idol, an iconic British punk rock musician who, though aging with the rest of us, makes everyone forget for that moment that he isn’t still 25, with bleached spike hair, tight leather jeans and black t-shirt, he’s still singing “Rebel Yell” and we are still singing it with him. He yells, he struts, he sings and with fists in the air the crowd can’t help but rock out with him.
The evening ends with the infamous Snoop Dog, dressed in a red leather bomber jacket and red leather pants, with a gold honey bee on his sun glasses and a gold microphone in his hand. Rapping his “I wanna rock” and “we can freak it” while his ladies danced on poles in the background, just being classic Snoop Dog.
I am finally understanding why no chairs are allowed, not only is there no room, no one can stay sitting for long with the huge array of musical choices at this festival, and while the crowds were big, walking around the venue was manageable because of the size of the space. There was something to please every age and most every interest at this year’s BottleRock Festival, looking forward to going again next year!