by Stephen Langsman
BottleRock skipped a year, and moved weekends this year in anticipation of the COVID-19 pandemic being over and provided a welcomed escape for music and food lovers alike who have been stuck inside for the past year and a half.
The festival that blends together the best local eateries, wineries, breweries and top musical acts from across the world did not disappoint last weekend as the festival gates opened just before noon on Friday at the Napa Valley Fairgrounds. New this year was several art installations including a few huge daisies, and a couple of windmills between the culinary stage and the Jam Cellars stage.
The festival was slated to go live with headliner Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac on Friday night, but she cancelled due the pandemic, but all was okay when Chris Stapleton stepped in. However, just hours before his set, and with the festival already underway he too cancelled, due to a none COVID related illness. The festival promoters stepped in swiftly, and created an amazing Friday night headliner when they got the Highwomen to step in. This was partly an easy call as Maren Morris, and Brandi Carlisle were already slated to play on the Jam Cellars stage leading up to the Friday night finale. The Highwomen played only their second live concert, and it was fantastic. Rivaling them Friday night was G-Eazy, a bay area local rapper who reps the Bay Area in most of songs also put on a thrilling show as he brought out a few of his favorite features, and talked about his new album release THESE THINGS HAPPEN TOO. Other acts such as Lawrence, Muna, Chromeo and Finneas also had the festival moving to the sweet sounds of music before the night was over.
The rest of the weekend happened without too much of a change as Saturday led into Guns N’ Roses and Miley Cyrus handling the closing duties on the largest two stages respectively. Before they finished things off Portugal the Man, Run the Jewels, Young the Giant, and local heros Hobo Johnson and the Lovemarkers rocked out.
Last but not least Sunday was closed out with none other than previous headliners in the Foo Fighters, and front man Dave Grohl joked on stage about playing the songs you want to hear before we close because last time they cut us short. Grohl also performed earlier in the day on the Jam Cellars Pad as part of the “Channukah Stories” and on Saturday night he helped Guns N’ Roses play Paradise City.
Once again the William Sonoma Culinary Stage brought a fun twist, and what the festival is really all about, intertwining the live music and food. This year local BBQ master Matt Horn put together some awesome bbq with rap legend Warren G and Zach Carothers of Portugal the Man. Former San Francisco Giants fan favorite and World Series champion Hunter Pence hit the stage with Chef Ming Tsai to make MINGS BINGS, which included a whole lot of tequilla, and Ayesha Curry teamed up with G-Eazy to play beer pong, and facetimed Golden State Warriors superstar, and Ayesha’s husband Stephen Curry. Another local favorite Guy Fieri teamed up with the Voltaggio Brothers to host a bunch of first responders.
The food was on point this year as it has been every year since the festival started. The festival goers were greeted once they entered the culinary garden to many different choices of delights including chicken sliders from Q R&B, Cod Tacos from Mustards, Dumplings from Bling Bling Dumplings, Chicken and Waffles from Jax White Mule and Diner, and pizza from Filippis Pizza Grotto. There were also plenty of sweet treats including Johnnys Doughnuts which had a line all weekend, Kara’s Cupcakes, Buchon Baker and my personal favorite ice cream cookie sandwiches from Mariposa Ice Creamery, which hit the spot with the weekend heat. “This weekend was awesome, we sold out of a few flavors, and everyone seems to be enjoying what we have to offer,” said Pilar Bernard of Mariposa Ice Creamery.
But BottleRock itself lends its name in part to the region it resides in, the Napa Valley and rich history of wine making. The wine was flowing plentiful, and a new addition was the carafe which allowed the wine drinkers at the festival to grab a whole bottle if they wanted of their favorite vino. A few of my favorites were the Miner Family Sauvigon Blanc and Caymus Cabernet Sauvigon.
Next year BottleRock returns to its normal weekend over Memorial Day at the and will once again be the perfect kick off to summer. I can’t wait to see the lineups for next year, both on the stages and for food and wine. Make sure to be on the lookout for tickets as they always seem to go quicker and quicker every year.