TV on the Radio plays the second of three new songs Friday at the BottleRock Napa Valley festival in Napa.
After a day of hits and misses, the first day of the 2014 installment of BottleRock Napa Valley came to a close with a decided hit thanks to British alternative rockers The Cure (right).
Robert Smith and company dominated for 2.5 hours on the main stage Friday at the Napa Valley Exposition, surging through a sea of hits including “Lovesong,” “Just Like Heaven” and “Friday I’m in Love.”
But The Cure proved their mettle in the songs that went beyond the singles, such as “From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea,” as guitarist Reeves Gabrels’ fretwork elevated the song to new heights.
The band played until it was forced to stop. After “Close to Me,” when the clock struck the 10 p.m. noise curfew, the band attempted to go into “Why Can’t I Be You?” but the sound was significantly squelched. Although Smith looked offstage and objected, the band relented in the middle of the song. (See the complete The Cure setlist below.)
TV on the Radio introduced new material during a 90-minute stand on the main stage that took a while to find its groove. The band proved most convincing when co-lead singer Tunde Adebimpe roamed freely, flailing his left arm with gusto and working to rile up the crowd. “Repetition” and “Wolf Like Me” proved helpful in this regard, as did 2013 nonalbum single “Mercy,” but others teetered on losing the band’s audience.
Also shining on day one was Moon Taxi, a Nashville rock quintet which brought a revved up set to BottleRock. Although it delivered its own material with verve and intensity, the group’s most surprising move was unleashing a cover of Rage Against the Machine’s “Know Your Enemy” that pulled no punches.
In mid afternoon, on the Miner Family Winery Stage was, fittingly, a Los Angeles folk rock group named Miner. Formed in 2012 as a husband-and-wife duo and expanded to a full band, the group played nuggets from February’s debut album, Into the Morning, including opening with a stirring “Golden Ocean.”
Matching Moon Taxi’s intensity was Delta Rae (left), a North Carolina folk rock group that includes three siblings, one of whom, Brittany Hölljes, is a Cal-Berkeley graduate. The five-year-old band worked through material from its debut slab, Carry the Fire, with help from Sublime With Rome’s dual-row wall of bass speakers, giving the group an unexpected oomph. It balanced its folksy numbers with uptempo rock, like its blistering rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain.”
Power pop rockers Gin Blossoms played cuts from throughout its career, spanning from its post-reunion record No Chocolate Cake to its debut, Dusted, which turns 25 in November. Singer Robin Wilson worked hard to engage the crowd, walking into the photo pit and emergency walkways to sing with fans before returning to the stage to deliver hits such as “Found Out About You” and “Til I Hear it From You.”
Kentucky-born cellist Ben Sollee took one of the early slots on the main stage, accompanied on most songs by a drummer. His set included “Prettiest Tree on the Mountain,” which he claimed he wrote after moving back to Kentucky after a breakup in California. Sollee joked that it took the BottleRock organizers both "balls and class" to book a cellist as a main stage act.
Reggae rapper and alternative rocker Matisyahu delivered a mellow set that leaned more on his recent rock efforts. Inexplicably, two women painted on one side of the stage as he sang. As the performance progressed, the painting took shape, with one side closely resembling the now-clean shaven singer in a style similar to his Live at Stubb’s cover while the other side showed a flock of birds flying.
Starting the day on the Sprint Stage was Chicago rockers Empires, which tried to find its footing with a new audience. Vocalist Sean Van Vleet said the visit to Napa marked new territory for the band, which has a new record due later this summer.
Return Sunday morning for coverage of day two, including highlights from OutKast and Weezer.The Cure setlist, with help from Setlist.fm
01. Shake Dog Shake
02. Fascination Street
04. The End of the World
06. Sleep When I'm Dead
08. In Between Days
09. Just Like Heaven
11. Before Three
12. From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea
13. Pictures of You
16. Never Enough
17. Wrong Number
18. The Caterpillar
19. The Walk
20. Mint Car
21. Friday I'm in Love
22. Doing the Unstuck
25. The Hungry Ghost
26. One Hundred Years
27. Give Me It
28. A Forest
29. The Lovecats
30. Hot Hot Hot
31. Let's Go to Bed
33. Close to Me
34. Why Can't I Be You? [incomplete]