Northern California’s land of wine and culinary excellence got taken to the next level this Memorial Day Weekend. The three day BottleRock festival – headlined by Florence + The Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Stevie Wonder – brought over 40,000 attendees to Napa’s picturesque space.
In it’s 4th annual year, the festival has grown significantly since its infancy but manages to maintain lots of its original quirky local flavor. BottleRock’s lineup, which featured a diverse list of well-known musical acts, drew fans in quickly and its 120,000 tickets sold out weeks in advance.
It’s almost tough to bill BottleRock as a music festival – because in reality it’s so much more. On the culinary stage we witnessed celebrities Cheech and Chong making cocktails and “smoked” scallops; Iron Chef Morimoto slice and dice his way through a 130+ pound tuna; and notorious chef Gordon Ramsey swooning over Napa’s local ingredients and fresh foods.
The BottleRock experience lives on outside of the festival grounds, too. Many popular downtown restaurants in Napa were open early for special brunches with mouth-watering menus and delicious drinks. If you were lucky enough to find yourself at the right spot, you could even catch an intimate after-show with one of the festivals artists!
Now, on to our favorite acts:
Stevie Wonder: This guy still has “it” in spades. The legendary performer dazzled the crowd for over and hour and a half, performing favorites like “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours,” “If You Really Love Me,” “Living for the City,” “I Wish,” from the album “Songs in the Key of Life,” and “Superstition.”
Aside from a bit of an awkward tribute to recently passed musicians Prince, Natalie Cole and David Bowie, Wonder appeared ageless in his ability to keep everyone on the edge of their seat, beholding his musical gifts. Lucky, too, for everyone in attendance: Stevie isn’t touring right now, so they caught the legend in a rare right-from-the-studio mode.
Lenny Kravitz: Lenny never ceases to impress. His repertoire continues to grow in ability and depth, this time including a impressive jazzy horn section. A strong touch of brass really brought his rock-fueled sound to a new level.
Despite a small technical hiccup that shortened his act a bit, Lenny rocked and swooned the crowd with his classic high-energy performance all the way until the festival’s closing time.
Florence + The Machine: The British rockers brought Napa’s wine country a unique touch on Saturday afternoon. Singer Florence Welch whimsically spun around stage in a shimmering green dress, captivating the crowd.
The band rocked through their hits like “Dog Days Are Over” and “Shake it Out,” before playing an awesome rendition of Neil Young’s classic “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” during Saturday’s sunset. It was a musical moment to behold.
Red Hot Chili Peppers: The Chili Peppers brought the 2016 BottleRock Napa Valley to a close on Sunday night, delighting a capacity crowd of 40,000 fans with their headlining set.
The act, formed in Los Angeles in 1983, drew a epic cheer from the crowd when it took the stage just after 8 p.m. before jamming to its traditional opener, “Can’t Stop.” And put to rest concerns of many attendees about the health of Anthony Kiedis – a situation that had caused them to cancel a few recent shows.
Overall, BottleRock and its 75 acts on four stages was exactly what any attendee could have hoped for. We here at FestPop love nothing more than great people, great food, and a great festival experience. See you next year at BottleRock Napa Valley festival, May 26 – 28, 2017!