Set List Bonus: BottleRock Napa Valley
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By Mylea Gacutan
As I cruised up the 101 North on May 30, I watched the fog slowly engulf the Golden Gate Bridge in my rearview mirror. It was finally here: the second annual BottleRock Napa Valley music festival in the heart of California's Wine Country.
I arrived at the gates and immediately blended in with the jovial crowd — a mix of teenagers, hipsters, families, and grandparents all amped up for a three-day weekend of wine and music. BottleRock's lineup was expertly booked, showcasing local up-and-coming artists such as the Soft White Sixties and artists who have helped shape the unique identity of Bay Area music, including Third Eye Blind. Headliners spanned seasoned veterans from the Cure and Heart to contemporary country star Eric Church and rap icons OutKast and LL Cool J with DJ Z-Trip.
I began day one surveying the collection of winemakers and vintners serving some of Napa Valley's finest. Each vendor was knowledgeable and friendly, sharing their bottling process and the complexities of each wine. The festival also featured dozens of Northern California restaurants, including Morimoto Napa, Drewski's Hot Rod Kitchen, Sunrise Deli, and Three Twins Ice Cream. And if that wasn't enough to strike your fancy, there were two beer gardens complete with Bay Area selections from Lagunitas Brewing Company, Anchor Steam Beer, Napa Point Brewing Company, and Napa Smith Brewery.
With a glass of cabernet sauvignon from Miner in hand, I anxiously awaited Sublime With Rome. Strapped with his Fender guitar, Rome Ramirez jammed through songs that gave the audience an air of nostalgia while they swayed in the Napa Valley breeze. I'm sure the classic sounds of "Santeria," "April 29, 1992 (Miami)" and "What I Got" took some in the audience back to their innocent teenage years.
From the moment I arrived at the parking lot to shuttle to the festival, I knew day two was going to be filled with electricity. Much larger crowds mobbed to the shuttles wearing vintage T-shirts from Third Eye Blind to De La Soul. By the time I arrived at the festival grounds I got myself a plate of ribs and took a seat for Robert Earl Keen's set. The Texas singer/songwriter's drawl proved to be a perfect accompaniment to my barbecue lunch. Paying tribute to Bay Area music, Keen performed a cover of the Grateful Dead's "New Speedway Boogie." With more and more people arriving throughout the day, I made the trek to the Miner Family Winery Stage to catch De La Soul. The group incorporated positive messages into their set, from the importance of family and education to their views on the influx of social media.
My personal favorite performance of the weekend was undoubtedly OutKast. The duo graced the stage with their iconic fashion sense, with André 3000 donning a white wig and black jacket that read "I've never had f@cebook, twitt@r, or inst@gram." Their set was as smooth as Atlanta grits as they opened with "B.O.B.," and transitioned into "Gasoline Dreams." The crowd went crazy when they began to play "Rosa Parks." Scanning the audience, I noticed many people were singing along to every word, likely reminiscing about when they picked up their copy of Aquemini in 1998. OutKast took the audience on a roller-coaster ride through their catalog, slowing it down for "Aquemini" and "Spottieottiedopaliscious," only to get the crowd singing along again to "Ms. Jackson." With André 3000's Southern twang and Big Boi's velvet rhymes coming together in classic fashion, OutKast's 20th anniversary tour stop in Napa left me wanting more.
The BottleRock festival was the experience of a lifetime. As a Northern California native I may be biased, but I can't think of anything better than perfect weather, great food, exquisite local wines, craft beers, and a lineup strong enough to stand up against any festival.
(Mylea Gacutan is the Chapter Assistant for The Recording Academy San Francisco Chapter.)