Photos and words by Rowe
Hosting a major music festival in Napa might seem like an odd locale for the world to convene, but wine and food have gotten on famously over the last several thousand years, so it only makes sense that music up in the warm May hills pairs just as fine.
Sitting on the fairgrounds right in downtown Napa, BottleRock asks a few things of fans that attend: embrace wine and food culture (check), and set aside your manufactured festival style. It’s hard to look cool for all the relevant blogs when you’re in direct sun, dust and surrounded by this much good food, beer and music.
Back in the major metropolitan area that I now call home, my friends call me and my kind “River People;” a term I enjoy. I’m proud of my less-than-refined qualities. But these days I’m a city slicker, so the KOA campground-feel to this festival is kind of refreshing; it feels like home, and I can’t wait to spend three days on these Napa fairgrounds.
Foster the People
After exploring the festival a bit, I finally settled on Foster the People at the Intel Stage. I’ve had great times with Foster the People at festivals in the past, but I have to admit that I don’t exactly have them on regular rotation. Unfortunately their set at BottleRock did nothing to change that for me. If you could possibly judge a band based on enthusiastic reactions of festival bros, the first 15 minutes of Foster the People barely got people moving and definitely didn’t inspire the classic take your shirt off and wave it around move. Did Foster the People turn into a boring band? Are they a boring band? Have they always been a boring band? I think I know how Charles might feel about this, but I’m asking for the people.
“Did he just call it ‘motherfucking Bottle Fest?’”
I’ve seen PE be great, I’ve seen PE be so-so, but whatever Chuck D and Flava Flav bring to BottleRock has to be better than watching Foster the People sleepwalk through an early evening set on the main stage. And I was not let down. In addition to Flava Flav not really caring about the name of the thing, I’ve never seen Public Enemy be better. Chuck D is a Master of Ceremony in the truest and most historic sense. Hyping his DJ, directing the crowd and performing songs that are just as meaningful today as they were nearly 30 years ago. Only now its kinda funny to watch people sip on a nice pinot grig to “Fight the Power.”
Michael Franti & Spearhead
Michael Franti used to talk a lot about revolution and stuff; perhaps a beer belly and some grey hairs will make the fire flicker a bit. I know it has for me. But if you want the path of least resistance to good vibes without having to listen to something stupid like Jack Johnson, Michael Franti & Spearhead are the way to go. Michael Franti, you truly are a son of San Francisco.