I should start this post off right away by admitting a few things: first of all, if you’ve seen any of my previous work on this site, you’ll already know, but I’m by far the most “mainstream” music listening on the Spinning Platters staff. Many of the bands my cohorts write about are those I’ve never heard of, while I’m running around checking out John Mayer, Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, and Pink. Also, and perhaps more importantly, I’m a huge novice when it comes to music festivals. I’ve been to a good handful of the one-day sort of radio station assembled festivals, and several consecutive years of Warped Tour. But bigger, multi-day festivals? I’ve only been to one so far: BottleRock Napa Valley 2013.
Quite frankly, last year’s BRNV blew my mind. While I’m a Napa Valley native, I’ve spent years of my life in SoCal, and there’s always been such a stark contrast between the small town life I enjoy here, just distanced enough from the Bay, and life in the sort of cities than can handle epic festivals like this. But I never really did get over how impressively BottleRock all came together: the forces behind it clearly knew what they were doing. In addition to an unbelievable lineup and the blessing of near-perfect late spring weather, I felt transported to another world, though the endless selections of food and drink I associate with the Valley reminded me exactly where I was at any given moment. I don’t know what culinary options avail themselves to my friends who frequent other festivals, but this is one time you’re sure to not go hungry, much less unsatisfied: our food choices are simply out of this world, and of course there are libations aplenty, too. There’s really no better way to enjoy a festival, and I frankly pity any festival that might fall short in this department (should it exist).
Despite all the controversy of last year’s financial messiness, the constant “will they or won’t they?” pull it off again, BottleRock’s name was eventually purchased from last year’s promoters by new investor group Latitude 38. As the event draws nigh, there are several things to get excited about, as well as a few pointers I’d like to share with you. First of all, of course, a few highlights from the exciting lineup: THE CURE, Outkast, and Eric Church headline a list that includes other exciting acts like Weezer, Sublime with Rome, The Fray, LL Cool J, Heart, Barenaked Ladies, Gin Blossoms, and many, many more. While I’m sad to see that this year doesn’t include comedy acts, there will still be plenty of acts to fill each day. (While a detailed daily schedule has not yet been published, at least that I’m aware of, last year’s BRNV iPhone app made itself incredibly useful for knowing exactly which band would be playing on which stage, and planning your day accordingly. I’m still holding out hope that it may resurface for use during this year’s festival, though it’s still unclear whether or not I’ll get my wish.)
As for food and drink, there’s a veritable plethora of options. I literally can’t imagine someone being disappointed on this front. A few favorites to try: Tarla, Mark’s the Spot Truck, La Condesa, Villa Corona, and Fume Bistro are local places I regularly enjoy patronizing, so I’ll be happy to hit them up when the need arises at the Expo. Also, when it gets hot, as it’s likely to do, Mariposa Ice Cream is fantastic, and last year’s Whole Foods tent sold fresh coconut water that was, hands-down, the most delicious and refreshing thing you could find on the grounds. Not a coconut lover? Try a glass of wine from the likes of Miner Family Winery, Schramsberg Vineyards, Flora Springs, Del Dotto, or Cakebread Cellars (to name a few). Of course, for those of you that aren’t interested in wine, there’s plenty of beer and cocktails, too… You get the idea – I doubt it’s possible to try everything at this festival – but it’d be fun to make an effort!
While I’m not sure that this year’s festival will have similar water bottle refill stations as last year’s did, I do know that stainless steel and plastic refillable bottles will be allowed, but glass ones won’t. Oh, and this is the ONE place that lines were insane last year, so if there are refill stations again, be prepared to wait in line, but be grateful not to have to pay exorbitant fees to fill up the landfills, right? If you are a bottled water drinker, you can bring one (per person) with you, as long as it’s sealed. You can’t bring in other outside food or drink (no big surprise there), but you should plan on bringing a blanket to lounge on, a point and shoot camera to capture your memories, and plenty of sunscreen. Two last things I think you should know about: while some locals want to piss and moan about the festival making traffic unbearable, I don’t think it did. Plan on there being some traffic around town during the festival, but then plan on getting on with your life. As for parking, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I anticipated, especially if you get there first thing during the day when the gates open. It wasn’t terribly hard to find street parking in the blocks around the Expo, and even on Soscol near First Street. Though perhaps this year there will be lots nearby that charge, there was a big lot next to the old movie theatre that sits on Soscol & Pearl that was free parking last year, and was a perfect place to grab a spot & just hoof it the few blocks to the Expo. Hopefully that’ll prove true this year, too – good luck!