Launching a new music festival certainly isn’t inventing or even reinventing the wheel these days, but if you can add a few unique tweaks to the standard offerings, Kinga Philipps thinks it might just catch on.
Enter BottleRock. Inaugural year: 2013. Location: Napa Valley, California.
First and foremost, a good lineup is a must or else you’re letting kids swing at an empty piñata. Held May 9 -12, BottleRock brought out the quality candy with a solid blend of desirable bands and nearly-household-names that fit the NorCal location spot on. Alabama Shakes, The Shins, The Black Keys, Vintage Trouble, Edward Sharpe, Allen Stone, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Cake …and the acts didn’t disappoint. Yea, the sound could have been a bit better, but grace given to first time organization efforts gets them off the hook.
Logistics worked out better than how most suspected Napa would handle the estimated 35,000 daily attendees. Buses shuttled enthusiastic then exhausted festival-goers to and from the parking lots with considerable efficiency. Shade and breathing room, worth their weight in gold at these events, were a pleasant surprise. The event featured three main stages: two spacious ones and a third smaller one that presented a bit of crowd-induced claustrophobia.
The setting, the Bay Area vibe and the gourmet culinary offerings were the real standouts. Lobster rolls, pork belly tacos, grass fed beef burgers topped with egg and organic offerings aplenty didn’t lead the palate astray. Wine flowed like water, and water flowed like wine from special filtered taps.
Puffy down jackets, adventure sandals and a demographic roughly 15 to 20 years older than at comparable festivals were constant location reminders. Hipsters rubbed elbows with Berkeley kids and professors, while folks a parent’s age, whatever that means to you, indulged in medicinal herbs from their lawn chairs. God bless the visual cornucopia of personal expression.
Hula Hoops and risqué fashion statements were less frequent than one becomes used to at these types of events, but the abundance of vast and varied fanny packs made up for any lack of high-wasted denim shorts.
Seasoned festival goers know that spending more than one day at an outdoor festival from start to finish can break the body down faster than back-to-back triathlons, so most people turned up in mid-afternoon when the better knows acts hit the stages. In the down time it was all about location, location, location. Beautiful surroundings, wineries at a stones throw and some of the best food in Cali tied the bow on an already pretty package. If you build it they will come, but if you do a good job, they will come back. Well done, BottleRock. We will be back.