Thousands of people flocked to Napa Valley May 9 to 13 for the first-ever BottleRock Music Festival. BottleRock featured a lineup of more than 80 artists, bands and comedic performers from a variety of genres, including rock, soul/R&B, country, hip-hop, comedy and more. A few of the headliners included The Black Keys, The Zac Brown Band and Kings of Leon. Jim Gaffigan, Demetri Martin and Bill Burr were a few of the comedians who entertained.
What made this festival really stand out was that there were over 30 of Napa’s best chefs serving up culinary creations and over 50 wineries and artisan breweries providing some of the best wine and beer California could offer. Another nice twist – $1 of every beverage sold supported the BACCHUS Fund, (Bands, Artists, Comedians, and Communities Helping Us Serve) which benefits more than 20 non-profit partners.
The Entrance to BottleRock Festival at The Napa Valley Expo
I was only able to attend one day of the festival, but I have to say that it was unlike any music festival I have ever attended. The first thing I noticed upon entering was how friendly every one of the vendors and workers were. The Napa Valley Expo is no small venue and it took a while to find my way around. Everyone was in high spirits, cracking jokes and happy to help and answer questions. Perhaps it was the excitement that such a festival will bring top talent to an area that otherwise doesn’t get it.
The Whole Foods Market Garden
The food was incredible. I’d never been to Napa Valley and here was a chance to sample from multiple restaurants all in one place. Lucky me! Obviously the food wasn’t free, or very cheap, so I couldn’t indulge as much as I would have liked to. Still, I was able to try a delicious pulled pork sandwich from The Q Restaurant and Bar and a delightful fungi pizza from Tra Vigne and amazing barbecued oysters from Nick’s Cove.
Delicious barbecued oysters from Nick’s Cove
For dessert an authentic strawberry shortcake from Fume Bistro. All of the food was divine and I found myself wishing I could come back for one more day and try more of the delicious food.
Scrumptious strawberry shortcake from Fume Bistro
The next thing that made BottleRock stand out was the plethora of drink options. Surrounding the stages were wine tasting tents, many of which were decked out with couches and chairs, bars and stools. It was a wine tasters paradise. The stand out for me was Caridean Vineyards. Gaelic for “Friendship,” it came as no surprise how friendly the Caridean staff was (and generous with their pours!). They even had a photo booth complete with silly costumes and accessories. Try their 2011 Rose. It was fruity, crisp and delightful!
Wine tasting tent for Caridean Vineyards
Despite all the fabulous wine and this being Napa, I have to admit that my favorite drink of the day was the BottleRock IPA. It had the perfect amount of hop to refresh a hot day. Since it was so important to stay hydrated, and no doubt so people would be able to keep drinking, there were much-appreciated free water filling stations around the festival grounds. Well – to be precise – they were spigots that came out of the ground, but it was cold and refreshing and free so no one was complaining!
A tasty BottleRock IPA
Of course the best part of the festival was the entertainment. After all the food and wine tasting I was able to relax and be amazed by the powerful soulful voice of Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes. I was also able to catch some comedy by the fantastic Demetri Martin.
Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes (Photo Courtesy of Paige Parsons and BottleRock Napa Valley)
The finale of the night was seeing Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney of The Black Keys kill it. I was nowhere near the front of the stage and was completely blown away. I’m pretty sure I’m not even cool enough to listen to them. That’s how good they were.
The Black Keys (Photos Courtesy of Jerome Brunet and BottleRock Napa Valley)
The only problem with festivals is trying to get everyone back to their cars, and BottleRock was no exception. Parking was easily five miles away so the shuttles were necessary. I left before the last song and was able to get back on the bus fairly quickly, but most of the crowd waited for an encore that never came and I wouldn’t be surprised if people were waiting until the early morning hours, and probably not happy about it.
Overall, the BottleRock music festival was a blast. My only regret was only attending one day. There wasn’t enough time to enjoy everything, but it was a great way to experience the great food and wine and see outstanding musical and comedic talent.
BottleRock will officially be returning in 2014 – if this first year’s success is any indication, get your tickets early! Tickets for next year are already on pre-sale at http://bottlerocknapavalley.com/tickets.
The crowd at BottleRock Festival (Photo courtesy of Paige Parsons and BottleRock Napa Valley)
Liesl Jackson is a writer/actress/comedian/pet sitter living in the heart of Hollywood. She loves the arts, animals, volunteering, traveling, and attempting to learn the acoustic guitar. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on twitter @SillyLiesl and follow The Pacific Punch @ThePacificPunch.