After a rebuilding year in 2014, the BottleRock Napa Valley festival returns this weekend for its third installment.
Founding organizers hosted an ambitious but financially perilous first edition in 2013 that resulted in more than $9 million in debt. A new set of organizers, Latitude 38 Entertainment, swooped in late in 2013 to help resolve some of the debt as well as keep the Napa-based event alive.
That financially tumultuous past looks behind BottleRock as it enters its third year. Robert Plant, No Doubt and Imagine Dragons (right) headline a lineup of more than 70 artists for the festival’s third go-around, which takes place Friday through Sunday at the Napa Valley Expo.
Los Angeles pop rockers Imagine Dragons, whose “Radioactive” is one of the most-streamed songs in the history of streaming music service Spotify, top the bill for Friday. Also scheduled to appear are Foster the People, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Los Lobos, Public Enemy and Cage the Elephant.
Saturday’s headliner is Plant, a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer as the former lead singer of English hard rock legends Led Zeppelin. Other performers that day include Passion Pit, The Avett Brothers, Capital Cities and Young the Giant.
No Doubt, the Anaheim-based pop, rock and ska quartet, closes the festival Sunday, along with Gipsy Kings, Snoop Dogg, Awolnation, Chris Robinson Brotherhood and American Authors.
The Avett Brothers are no strangers to BottleRock, stepping in as headliners during the 2013 festival after Furthur, a Grateful Dead offshoot with Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, was unable to appear.
Among Friday’s performers is Cave Creek, Arizona-based rock/country group Ryan Sims Band, which closes the City Winery Stage at 7:15 p.m. Friday. The band’s singer and namesake (left) said that although they’re not as well-known as the other acts playing at that hour – hip-hop giants Public Enemy and Latin rockers Los Lobos – that he’s not intimidated.
“Honestly, we’re so different from those guys,” said Sims, who was a 2011 finalist on the “X Factor” TV show. “We understand we’re an emerging artist and people haven’t really heard a lot from us at this point. We’re bringing in our original material and we’re going to play some fun covers, too.”
Sims, whose self-titled debut album was released in January 2014, said the band concocted a 12-minute medley of Lynyrd Skynyrd songs to showcase its musicianship at BottleRock.
“We’re used to playing three- and four-hour shows every night, real off the cuff, feel the crowd out, see where the night takes us,” Sims said. “We’re proud to be on such a lineup.”
For this year’s festival, Latitude 38 had the longest period in the event’s history to sculpt a lineup. The group “literally began plans” for this year’s festival the day after the 2014 event concluded, according to its website. The first year’s five-night, four-day event came together across several months while L38 members had an approximate 40-day window last year.
Perhaps the biggest change festivalgoers will see this year comes in parking. Due to the redevelopment of the Napa Pipe area on the city’s southern end, busing fans across town is no longer a viable option. Parking passes are available via the festival’s website, which also recommends regional bus and shuttle services as well as carpooling, ride-sharing and bicycling.
Once inside the grounds, fans may notice three buildings were removed, according to the Bay Bridged, a move which also allows L38 to increase its possible maximum daily attendance from 30,000 to 40,000. Three-day general admission passes to the festival are sold out, but some single-day, VIP and “platinum” price points are still available.
Returning are the flavors of Napa and Northern California that make the region as well as the festival distinct. Among them this year are dishes from La Toque, Redd and Oenotri restaurants along with wines from Miner Family Winery, Jam Cellars, Silver Oak Cellars and Robert Mondavi Winery.
Also new this year is a culinary stage, which will pair chefs, musicians, vintners and sommeliers for live performances and demonstrations, including a promising mashup of hip-hop legend Snoop Dogg and "Iron Chef" Masaharu Morimoto.
FIVE ACTS TO SEE
- Courtney Barnett – Intel Main Stage, 2:45 p.m. Friday: Australian indie rocker known for fiery live shows comes in riding “Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit,” one of the year’s best albums to date.
- Xavier Rudd and the United Nations – Miner Family Stage, 5:45 p.m. Friday: Expect this Australian mutligenre musician to play reggae, roots rock, folk and the didgeridoo.
- Napa Crossroads Live – Miner Family Stage, 4:15 p.m. Saturday: Former Ambrosia singer David Pack leads an amalgamation of adult-oriented rock talent, including former members of Chicago, Kansas and Survivor.
- People Under the Stairs – Intel Main Stage, 1:30 p.m. Sunday: Los Angeles hip-hop duo “The P” has built a reputation as a stellar live act.
- Trampled by Turtles – Jam Cellars Stage, 5:15 p.m. Sunday: Bluegrass act from Minnesota will bring the fiddling goodness – and possibly Pixies covers.
Imagine Dragons photo courtesy Paradigm Talent Agency.
Ryan Sims photo courtesy RyanSimsMusic.com