BY STEPHEN LANGSAM
NAPA VALLEY, CALIF. – Back to its regularly scheduled weekend over Memorial Day, BottleRock Napa Valley rocked the Napa Valley Expo from the sounds of great artists including Metallica, Pink, Luke Combs, Mount Westmore featuring E-40, Too $hort, Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube just to name a few. But this festival is more than just a three day concert. It’s a blend of all things that make Napa great; food, wine, beer, art and people!
Relaxing on the COVID-19 standards that saw most festival goers wear a mask last year, the festival seemed like a transportation device back to 2019, few festival goers were wearing masks, but the staff on hand were covered to provide safety for the festival goers.
The Napa Valley Expo once again proved to be the perfect landing pad for the launch into summer. The green grass, (not just in thew newly formed “Garden” cannabis exposition area, the smells of bbq, and cheers of fans made this weekend special.
Friday kicked off at noon with Kosha Dillz performing, you might remember he put on a great show at the Jam Cellars Jam Pad last year just before the Foo Fighters went on. This year he started off the festival performing on the Truly Stage. His energy was infectious, and he decided to perform a few more times over the weekend in The Club as well at an after hours show with Iration.
The music continued Friday with Bay Area artist Fantastic Negrito, Marcus King, Spoon, Greta Van Fleet and Metallica on the main stage for those looking to rock out. The Verizon stage, Allianz Stage and Truly stages mixed up the music with hip hop act SAINt JHN, EDM artist KYGO, reggae bands Skip Marley and Iration. Metallica rocked out heavy for over two hours and showed why they were chosen to headline the opening night.
Saturday the gates opened at The Napa Valley Youth Symphony stretched their lungs playing festive tunes to get everyone in the mood for a fantastic day. The eclectic mix of music on Saturday continued with Marc E. Bassy, Greensky Bluegrass, Bahamas, Silvers Pickups, The Black Crowes and Noah Kahan before Twenty One Pilots and Mount Westmore took over the Jam Cellars Stage and Verizon Stage respectively to finish off the night.
To cap off the weekend, Sunday brought some more fire power in terms of big acts. Pitbull put on the largest dance party I’ve ever seen. Other great acts from Sunday included festival newcomer BLU DeTiger, festival veterans Michael Franti & Spearhead, and Vance Joy. Only one scratch came over the whole weekend and it was from Sunday, with BLEACHERS, who cancelled last minute due to a COVID-19 case in the band. But it all came down the headliners P!NK and Luke Combs. Girl power was front and center with P!NK’s set on the Jam Cellars stage. She danced, sang, and even flew threw the air doing her acrobatics, she’s a true rockstar.
The William Sonoma Culinary stage provided a fun look what makes this festival so special. Acclaimed chefs, rockstars, sports superstars and local television talent graced the stage. Marcus Samuelson, Michael Mina, The Voltaggio Brothers, Aaron Sanchez, Matt Horn, Roy Choi, teamed up with the likes of San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle, former KTVU Sports Anchor Mark Ibanez, bay area Rappers Too $hort, E-40, Hall of Famer and former Oakland Athletics superstar Rickey Henderson, Twenty One Pilots, P!NK, Luke Combs to name a few of the acts, to create fun dishes that ended up being passed out to lucky fans who showed up early to the stage.
The Garden which was new this year was a fun showcase for a few cannabis brands to get out and show their products off. While you couldn’t purchase any cannabis inside of the festival gates you could get a “one time” pass to head over to their stands across from the third street entrance to pick up you goodies and bring them back in to enjoy – or to take home. The vibe from the vendors on hand from Select, Alien Labs, Connected Cannabis Co. and Left Coast Extracts were very similar – happy to be part of the inaugural group to share the Garden with at BottleRock and excited to gain a new customer base while informing guests of their brands mission.
The food this year was once again a highlight for me, and many other festival goers as the variety continues to grow. With so many different dishes on deck including sushi, bbq, hawaiian ramen, pizza, burgers and dogs, tacos, nachos, mac and cheese — these were just a few of things that were available. Sean Knight of Mustards was busy over the weekend serving up fantastic dishes in the Culinary Garden. “Our team has been really busy this weekend. But we’ve got this down to a science now, nine years in we sort of know exactly what we need to bring so we don’t run out of food.” Mustards debuted a fun seafood stand where they served up Crab Cakes, Lobster Rolls, Old Bay fries and Truffle fries for the first time. “I think this was a nice treat for us, and for the festival to have this on hand,” said Knight.
While not all the vendors were festival goer facing in the Culinary Garden, like local Napa eatery Zuzu, they still had plenty of fun cooking for the VIP guests and artists behind the scenes. “We’ve been doing this for quite some time and it’s amazing how much we’ve grown, and the festival has grown,” said Zuzu founder Mick. “We put together paella for the artists and VIPs and they come back the next year looking for us again, it’s truly fun.” The sweets were also a nice treat with ice cream and cupcakes being passed around almost as much as the wine and beer. Pilars Ice Creamery was once again a hit, with lines for her ice cream as long as any. “It was a great weekend overall, we were really busy and our stand was a hit,” said Pilar. “We can’t wait for next year to see what the lineup is and be involved in the festival.”