Guide to BottleRock
Discover hot new music, the best bites to try, and how to make the most of this three-day music festival in Napa.
You go to Napa for its world-class wine and food. Pair that with top musicians, and you have BottleRock Napa Valley. If you haven’t been, an unforgettable weekend in a gorgeous setting awaits just an hour north of here. Here are the details on the up-and-coming bands to catch, the best bites and sips, and how to make May 27–29 your best BottleRock yet.
One to watch: Check out Icelandic band Kaleo, a four-man band reminiscent of Bon Iver that blends rock, folk, blues, and country. Kaleo broke out at the
2012 Iceland Airwaves Music Festival.
2:15 p.m., Midway stage.
English import: Fans of Muse and Arcade Fire will dig British indie pop rock band Nothing But Thieves, which hit it big with its first full-length album released in February and a sold-out tour. 6:30 p.m., Lagunitas stage.
Biggest hit: Stevie Wonder, one of the most highly awarded solo male artists (he has 25 Grammys under his belt), headlines day one. Make sure to stay until the end, as Wonder usually closes with his classic “Superstition.” 8:15 p.m., Jam Cellars stage.
One to watch: North Whales’ natives The Joy Formidable released a new album, Hitch, in March. Fans of ’90s alt-rock will love this three-person group named a “band to watch” by Rolling Stone. 3 p.m., Midway stage.
Reggae royalty: Settle down for a little bit of beachside chill and reggae with Ziggy Marley. His seventh solo album drops May 20, and Marley will be heading straight to Napa from Coachella. 6 p.m., Midway stage.
Biggest hit: Hear the haunting and powerful vocals of Grammy-nominated Florence and the Machine, as the band makes a stop in the middle of a world tour promoting its newest album, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. 8:15 p.m., Jam Cellars stage.
One to watch: No one in this band is old enough to drink (the oldest is 12), but that hasn’t stopped California natives The Helmets from booking a wine-centric gig. Skateboarders by day, rock stars by night, these preteens are the next big thing in punk rock. 12:15 p.m., Jam Cellars stage.
Soul food: The Suffers, a 10-piece group from Texas, brought Gulf Coast Soul to Jimmy Kimmel while promoting its self-titled album. 4:45 p.m., Lagunitas stage.
Biggest hit: Rock legends the Red Hot Chili Peppers are recording a new LP—the first in five years—cowritten with Danger Mouse, so here’s to hoping we’ll get a sneak peek at some new tunes. 8:15 p.m., Jam Cellars stage.
Q&A: Michael Franti
We got the lowdown from Oakland musician and repeat BottleRock performer Michael Franti about what sets this festival apart.
Q: Why did you sign on to perform at BottleRock?
A: My family and I love the festival. It has become a Northern California institution. It makes sense. Wine, music, Napa—it’s a no-brainer.
Q: Who do you want to see perform while you’re there?
A: Stevie Wonder. His songs have been such a big part of my life. For me, he’s up there with The Beatles and Bob Marley.
Q: Any tips for a newbie?
A: I’m always looking for new music: I’ve come across some of the most amazing artists at BottleRock and become a fan. It’s really the smaller stages where you find the sexiest sounds.
Q: Plus, you’ll be back on the culinary stage, right?
A: Yes. Last year I was up there with Wavy Gravy and a chef from Italy who didn’t speak any English. We ended up just singing songs, and I coined a phrase that’s going to be a song on my next album.
Q: What’s the phrase?
A: They asked what my favorite type of wine is, and I told them, “My favorite wine is tequila.” So that’s the song title.
Michael Franti and Spearhead perform Friday at 4:15 p.m., Jam Cellars stage. michaelfranti.com.
BottleRock wouldn’t be complete without wine from top vintners and food from Wine Country restaurants, some with Michelin-starred chefs. Here are a few pairings to try. (And catch the live cooking demos with celebrity guests on the culinary stage.)
Ca’ Momi, Napa
Best bite: The Norcina: a wood-fired pizza with house-made pork sausage, wild mushrooms, and smoked mozzarella di bufala.
Sip this: 2014 Jam Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa’s Jam Cellars.
Best bite: The menchi katsu–style burger with tartar sauce, Otafuku sauce, Asian slaw, and house-made kimchee.
Sip this: 2013 Fel Pinot Noir Anderson Valley from Yountville’s Cliff Lede Vineyards.
Mustards Grill, Napa
Best bite: Smoked New York steak sandwich with onion jam, watercress sauce, and house-made potato chips.
Sip this: 2013 Hall Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from St. Helena’s Hall Wines.
Need to buy or sell tickets? Bottle Rock has a buy or exchange platform through Lyte. uselyte.com/bottlerocknapavalley.
Skip the parking nightmare, and take a bus from the Rockridge BART station in Oakland ($47). Or fill up your car with four or more, and be entered to win a VIP ticket upgrade when you arrive. bottlerocknapavalley.com/transportation.
Web Extra: Sweet Spots to Stay
A few Wine Country resorts are offering over-the-top packages with private transportation for BottleRockers. Just north of Napa on Highway 29, Yountville’s Bardessono is offering a three-night package (starting at $10,479) in the King Steam Spa suite with platinum passes to BottleRock. Auberge du Soleil is offering its Mercedes-Benz Rock and Ride Weekend (starting at $11,405), which includes breakfast daily, BottleRock Cocktails, a four-night stay, and complimentary test-drives of the new Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Plus, Oakland’s Michael Franti kicks off the festival with a private concert and dinner ($1,000) at Auberge on Thursday night, limited to 150 guests with proceeds benefiting Franti’s Do It For The Love Foundation. Meadowood Napa Valley’s “Ultimate Platinum Experience” ($12,750 per couple) includes lodging, two platinum passes to the festival, a couples spa treatment, and a daily in-room breakfast. bardessono.com, aubergedusoleil.com, meadowood.com.