BottleRock Napa Valley Music Festival took place at the Napa Expo during Memorial Day weekend, May 27 – 29, 2016. I attended Saturday on behalf of The Young Folks and experienced music, food and good vibes all around. Having been my first BottleRock experience, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m definitely familiar with Outside Lands Music Festival but this was a whole new ballpark for me. For starters, Outside Lands is without a doubt twenty degrees cooler…
The day started off with a minor hitch: Parking. NOT ideal for people driving out of town to catch a day or two. Since the festival is located in downtown Napa, I get why so many homeowners are just over it. Having music booming throughout every hour of the day or even traffic coming from every direction isn’t something I’d be OK with! My friend and I walked a good mile before actually getting to the entrance. Just a tip for anyone planning on attending next year: take a Lyft or Uber.
Actually entering the venue wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Granted, we were there early in the morning and all the stragglers come in later in the afternoon. The whole venue was a playground for about two hours before it was jam-packed with long lines and bodies sitting down underneath any space with shade. The Napa Expo was a lot smaller than I expected it to be but at least it was manageable to get from point a to point b a lot faster than compared to Outside Lands where you have to trek at least 40 minutes prior to an artist getting on stage.
After catching Panic is Perfect on the main stage, I went to check out the often talked about Williams-Sonoma Culinary Stage. Last year, Snoop Dogg had an epic guest appearance. I attended the Oodles and Noodles panel hosted by Bay Area TV host Liam Mayclem featuring chef Curtis DiFede and pop rock band R5 who taught the audience how to make udon noodles. Ahem, my favorite. The coolest part about it would have to be the drum kit made solely out of pots and pans courtesy of Williams-Sonoma. It was a cooking lesson IRL that I certainly do not remember how to do but enjoyed watching.
Speaking of food, one of the best parts about festivals has to be the food, right? I grabbed myself a salmon handroll from Takoba Sushi and paella from Gerard’s Paella. As with every concert, it was all a bit overpriced but otherwise, tasted magnificent. Can’t forget to mention Napa is home of the most famous wineries in the world. World class wine? Food? Music? Who could argue with this?
What I can argue about is the absolute need for a misting room. It was way too hot beyond words and it was very rare or too crowded to find a place to cool off. The BottleRock staff provided a refill station but there has got to be more than that for festival goers who just need a place to cool off. I do commend them for having a solid place for the press to relax and take part in press conferences.
Moving into the night, Bay Area fans were desperately finding areas to watch the Golden State Warriors play a pivotal game against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the NBA semi-finals. However, security closed off the only place it was possible to watch. That left hundreds of fans outside a building asking for constant updates or anxiously refreshing phone screens. In case you haven’t heard already, Warriors won that game so cue the “Waaaarrriooors” cheer throughout the venue whether you were at the Bud Light building or not. You’d think the BottleRock staff would plaster televisions any place they can knowing the Warriors were in one of the biggest games of season. Guess not.
To end the night after catching a good chunk of Florence + The Machine, I headed to the epic silent disco area which is getting more and more popular in festivals every year. Artists come over and DJ for a bit throughout the day to help a handful of people jam out with headphones on. If you aren’t participating in the silent disco, it’s a hilarious sight to see from the outside. A lot of madness goes on from conga lines to beach ball fights to choreographed dancing. You gotta experience it at least once.
BottleRock Napa Valley Music Festival 2016 had its ups and downs but nothing too horrible to turn me away from attending another year. Plus, this was only its fourth year running the show so you can only expect much more improvements along the way. With an impressive music lineup from the past four years, I have high hopes for next year’s performers. Cheers, BottleRock. Looking forward to seeing you again on May 26 – 28, 2017.