Best of Bottlerock 2018
Often referred to as “the fancy Coachella,” Napa Valley’s Bottlerock Music Festival was nothing short of exquisite. Like other festivals, it brought a stellar lineup, headliners including but not limited to Bruno Mars, Muse and The Killers. However, its expansive wine tasting garden, full-service spa, and a stage solely featuring celebrity chefs truly encapsulated Napa’s sophisticated culture. These elements drew a crowd that, rather than drinking and smoking their way through the weekend, were happy to sit back and enjoy good music with a glass of wine.
Let’s put it this way — the only person I saw who had a bit too much to drink was a man in his 60s. Yet thrills were not in short supply. Halsey had an asthma attack onstage, Snoop Dogg single-handedly broke the world record for the largest “Gin-and-Juice” cocktail ever created, and Bruno Mars finished the weekend off with actual police and firemen.
So how can you best relive the weekend? Here are some recommendations from the festival's musical and culinary sides.
THE ONE TO KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR: JACOB BANKS
There is really something special about getting your friends hooked on a new band, and this was the case with Jacob Banks. I stumbled upon his show by accident at Coachella a few months back and made a point to see him again this weekend, dragging my friends along. This time around was just as memorable and he gained three new fans in the process. Banks’ smooth voice and seriously powerful sound shouldn’t be missed, and I have a feeling he will gain popularity in the next few years. It won’t take much to get through all his music as Banks only released his EP in 2017 along with a few collaborations (one of which is featured on the Fifty Shades Freed soundtrack), but it’s all definitely worth a listen.
The independent singer from England drew a sizable crowd, but many were happy to sit on blankets and let themselves get enveloped in the booming, blues-y music. I look forward to seeing what Banks has in store.
(R&B / SOUL, LISTEN TO — UNHOLY WAR, CHAINSMOKING, PART TIME LOVE)
THE ONE I’M SORRY I MISSED: THE RECORD COMPANY
Due to the incredibly long and unmoving line to get into the festival on Saturday, I missed all but the last song. I heard from many who were able to catch the whole thing that this was a mistake. Drawing influence from Muddy Waters, The Record Company’s music holds heavy blues elements but is early rock & roll at its roots.
What little I did see was excellent and I was lucky enough to hear a song from their album that comes out next week, but I yearned for more. I’ll be sure to catch them this September during their tour, and I encourage you to look them up — their upbeat rock had the whole crowd dancing until the end.
(ROCK, LISTEN TO — RITA MAE YOUNG, BABY I’M BROKEN, THIS CROOKED CITY)
MY MOM MADE ME GO AND I DON’T REGRET IT:
I went to the festival with my mom on Friday (I know, lame) and she is a die-hard fan. As a member of a younger generation, I’d like to think that I am above this sort of funky, 70’s music.
I was wrong.
The crowd was a mix of all ages, and it was one of the most fun shows of the weekend. I arrived late on Friday so this was my first show of the weekend, and it was an excellent, upbeat way to kick it off. I’d be lying if I said this music was too dated — I was shocked at the number of songs I knew despite my unfamiliarity with the band as a whole. Earth, Wind and Fire has still got it, and the entire audience was on their feet.
(FUNK, POP, LISTEN TO — SEPTEMBER, LET’S GROOVE, SHINING STAR)
THE BEST OF THE CULINARY STAGE: AARON SANCHEZ
As an avid Food Network watcher and Chopped fan, I was delighted to see Sanchez on the culinary lineup. However, I had no idea what was in store. Sanchez came onstage with Cardi B. blaring in the background, bringing on guests from Shakey Graves, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Tank and the Bangas and Laila Ali. Paying homage to his New Orleans roots, Sanchez and his guests prepared a classic crawfish boil. “A crawfish boil is all about community and sharing,” Sanchez stated as he began throwing crawfish into the audience.
The culinary stage itself never disappointed as I was surrounded by people who were just as excited to see a celebrity chef as any rockstar perform.
EAT HERE: THE FARMER'S WIFE
The phrase “fruit sandwich” does not sound too appealing, but do not let it scare you away from The Farmer’s Wife. This Sonoma-based, farm-to-table restaurant was serving up their critically acclaimed sandwiches at their stand, including a stone fruit and wildflower honey melt. It was the perfect mix of sweet and savory, the sourdough and mild cheese complementing the sweet plums and marmalade perfectly. This was, in summation, the dessert grilled cheese of my dreams and solidified my belief that Bottlerock has the best food of any festival. If you find yourself in Sonoma, head over to this restaurant, stat.
All in all, I would declare the weekend a success, complete with plenty of great music, sunshine, and of course, wine. Maybe I'll even go for a massage at the spa next time around.