Review of Brand New Music Festival – BottleRock.
Went yesterday to the first day of this new music festival – BottleRock at Napa Fairgrounds.
T’was quite surprised how well the event was organized for a first time event!
I have no major complaints except you couldn’t bring in your own water (though free water and veggie burgers on-site). But most people need a reason to bitch. The locals complained about traffic, the VIP complained they didn’t get enough for their $$ (probably right about that) and the deadheads complained about no Further (canceled announced two weeks in advance). But, deadheads complain about everything anyway (and Bobby’s voice is now pretty much shot).
Great job fitting three stages into the fairgrounds – all were close, just a couple minute walk away, without the sound bleeding over. Not too large a crowd for any one stage. The sound was surprisingly good for a festival venue. The *sound* is what I pay for, and am often disappointed, not this time.
Perfect weather, well behaved and fun crowd, good time!
The transportation went amazingly smooth. Napa traffic almost always sucks on a regular day – I had expected the worst. However, they implemented a shuttle bus system that worked perfectly. Our ten minute drive there ended at the shuttle parking lot – the old Basalt Quarry/Shipyard. I didn’t even realize this old historical shipyard existed until yesterday, and I’ve been working on rehabbing military bases around SF Bay for the past 10 years. There was NO shuttle bus wait going there and only 8 or 9 minutes for the ride back. No traffic to speak of, incredible.
At least 25 or 30 different wineries selling their best, good supply of food vendors. The main eating area had nice wooden chairs and redwood slab tables!
Thought there would be more artwork, though the event-specific art showed very nicely.
I saw half the set of Moonalice (w/ Pete Sears). They sounded really good. Vocals a little weak but the bass and guitar work was simply outstanding. The song structure better than average, these guys are experienced pros.
Had never seen them before. Vocals were much better than I expected, especially for the genre. They sounded great for their age, though they had a false start on one song and the band wasn’t as tight as I thought they would be given they are a three piece (+vocalist) and have been playing together for 30+ years.
Surprise of the bunch. Had never heard of these guys before and was amazed with their musicianship. All take lead vocals, nice harmony and song structure, positive vibration type music. Love it when I see a new band I’ve never heard and end up loving their set.
Delta Spirit – another nice surprise for a band I’ve never heard before. Really high energy with strong original compositions. Thought vocals were a little weak but they were TIGHT.
Unfortunately I missed almost all of Richard Thompson and missed the entire Violent Femmes set (which I really wanted to catch this band, had never seen before (and I used to play Blister in the Sun). They haven’t played together in seven years until this last month, their set was real short- but comprised their entire first album, in order. Saw one song by Joan Jett and a couple songs by Café Tacuba. They have quite the following. A tight funk/pop/world band. Thought the song structure and vocals a little weak but intense band and crowd energy.
Black Crowes. Wow, they rocked – even better than the last time. Vocals and jams were great, like the new materials also.
The dilemma (a good First-World problem) was that Evett Brothers, Primus and Violent Femmes were all playing at the same time! Tough to complain when the festival has three great acts playing simultaneously.
So, caught about a third of Evett Brothers and two thirds Primus. Love the Evett brothers sound, VERY talented musicians, though would seem better to catch them at a festival like Strawberry or Millpond rather than on a large stage. They had the opportunity to expand their songs past the three minute mark but stayed in their comfort zone for whatever reason.
Though, point in fact, Primus stole the event. Forgot how good these guys shred. Had never seen their long show before and they KILLED IT. Wow, their instrument mastery nears obsessive compulsiveness insanity. Probably helped they were playing to their home crowd.
As it turns out, (best bassist alive today) Les Claypool’s grandfather passed away 5am that day. Primus character/cartoon Tommy the Cat was based on his grandfather, ‘Papa’. So Les gave a great heartfelt eulogy and then played Papa’s favorite song – the Battle of New Orleans. Even though this was a smash hit in 1959 most the crowd probably didn’t know the song. But, I learned this song on a school bus trip as a kid and STILL remembered 2/3rd s of the lyrics. Les played so fast he sang each verse and chorus three times and still had a sing along the last verse. Had NEVER seen a band cover this tune before...neat!
Can’t believe I’ve been going to live shows for 30 years now. Hardly go anymore since today I don’t like crowds and hassle and especially since access to streaming music is such a great deal nowadaze. But, glad I took the plunge back in the live festival music pool. The complainers are just complainers (and probably don’t have much experience going to shows).
Overall great event, seven bands we saw (and missed several more) provided a great deal for the money, easy commute, sweet music – and all only 10 miles away!
Yep, going back today (lots of newer bands on the ticket I have wanted to see i.e. Shins, Alabama Shakes, Black Keys etc.)!