BottleRock Napa Valley 2017 Festival Journal, Day 3

by Stacy Scales on June 4, 2017

The Foo Fighters intended to play until they could play no more (Photo credit: BottleRock Napa Valley / Latitude 38 Entertainment)

Where had the time gone? Somehow it was already Sunday, and Day 1 and Day 2 were already behind us!

Sunday promised to have the best weather of all, as well as some acts I’d been really looking forward to. Because I’d missed The Helmets last year – but heard them from my house and was impressed enough to text a friend who was already there, asking who they were I knew in advance that I had to make it there early this year to see them in action.

Within minutes of my arrival at the JaM Cellars Stage, I watched in awe as three young boys (all but one of them are 12, the oldest is 13) crushed a set of original songs and covers (including Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog”). The band is made up of Bastian Evans on guitar, Kai Neukermans on drums, Bryan Ferretti on guitar and lead vocals, and Tye Trujillo absolutely destroying the bass guitar (perhaps in part due to the fact that his dad, Robert Trujillo, is the bassist for Metallica). Original songs included “Thrash Doom,” “Iron Ide,” and “Rising Machine.” I was struck by how comfortable these little guys were on stage none of them seemed remotely shy or plagued by any ounce of stage fright. They are definitely a band to keep your eyes (and ears!) out for: I predict great things for them. Seriously, this band is really good. Don’t believe me? You should give them a listen.

The Helmets’ Bastian Evans and Bryan Ferretti at BottleRock Napa Valley 2017 (Photo credit: BottleRock Napa Valley / Latitude 38 Entertainment)

Tye Trujillo: all of 12 years old and already making the bass guitar his bitch (Photo credit: BottleRock Napa Valley / Latitude 38 Entertainment)

The plan at this point in my day was to firmly plant myself as close to the JaM Cellars Stage as possible during the next act so that I would be there for Gavin DeGraw later in the afternoon. I didn’t recognize Cobi by name at first, so when he appeared on stage, I had zero expectations – good or bad. To my delight, he was fantastic, and didn’t have to serve as a “placeholder” of any kind. I genuinely enjoyed his set, which included “Back to the Earth” dedicated to Chris Cornell and Greg Allman – and “Cosmopolitan Man,” and one I realized I already knew: “Dont You Cry for Me.”

Cobi was a very pleasant surprise (Photo credit: BottleRock Napa Valley / Latitude 38 Entertainment)

Mr. DeGraw was next, and not only was I pleased with my distance from the stage, but so were my brother and sister-in-law (a huge DeGraw fan). His entire setlist can be found here. Before he began “Soldier,” DeGraw explained that it was “dedicated to the person in your life you can rely on, that you know you can call when you’re in the middle of nowhere, who will pick you up, let you sleep on their coach, let you eat their food… this is dedicated to all the soldiers, and for the soldiers in each and every one of our lives.” Similarly, he dedicated “Brother” to “all the brothers out there,” which was fun, given that I was seeing him with my own brother. I’ve seen him play several times now, and every time I do, he reaffirms how much I enjoy his music. It’s especially fun to have him playing right here in my town. Suffice it to say DeGraw was an overall highlight of the weekend.

Gavin DeGraw knows how to have a good time (Photo credit: BottleRock Napa Valley / Latitude 38 Entertainment)

As I headed across the Expo to catch part of The Strumbellas‘ set – I missed “We Don’t Know,” but was there with plenty of time to catch the glorious “Spirits” over on the Samsung Stage, I passed Everlast on the Williams-Sonoma Culinary Stage with the brothers Voltaggio as they were about to embark on the adventure of creating whiskey cocktails – something I would have enjoyed having more time to witness.

Michael and Bryan Voltaggio grace BottleRock Napa Valley’s culinary stage (Photo credit: BottleRock Napa Valley / Latitude 38 Entertainment)

After The Strumbellas, I made my way back to the JaM Cellars Stage for Live, whose set included 90s hits I hadn’t heard in years (and had missed). They gave us “I Alone,” a cover of Audioslave’s “I Am the Highway,” and one of the best moments of crowd participation (singalong-style) I heard all weekend, which happened during the powerful “Lightning Crashes.” Back in the late 2000s, the band’s announced a “hiatus” that became permanent until the band revved back up in 2011 with a new front man at the helm. Lucky for me (and anyone else who loved the band in its original form), Ed Kowalczyk announced a return to Live late last year, so it was his voice we were treated to this weekend.

Ed Kowalczyk returns to perform with Live (Photo credit: BottleRock Napa Valley / Latitude 38 Entertainment)

After Live, I decided to make a “quick” run to Food Truck Alley, where I encountered the other snack so good that I have to pause to tell you about it  at Drewski’s Hot Rod KitchenIf ever you spot their truck, I highly encourage you to ask for an order of “totchos” – tater tot nachos with pulled pork (or shredded beef), aioli, spicy BBQ sauce, housemade nacho cheese sauce, jalapenos, green onions and bacon.  Just trust me: you likely won’t finish a whole order alone, but either way, you’ll thank me.  Totchos in hand, back in front of the JaM Cellars Stage, I was once again able to relax and stay put on the grass, where I would be for the rest of the night.

Next up was Band of Horses, whose set had such a perfect, mellow vibe for a breezy holiday weekend. I don’t know many of their songs, but the few I do know I was really looking forward to hearing (“St. Augustine” and the beautiful “No One’s Gonna Love You”). Both were all I wanted them to be when experienced live, and then as the sun began to descend behind the horizon, it was about time to rock out one last time with Foo Fighters.

Band of Horses and Napa weather are a match made in heaven (Photo credit: BottleRock Napa Valley / Latitude 38 Entertainment)

Before I get into Foo’s set, let me just say how excited this town has been in the weeks and months leading up to this. When it was announced that they would headline this year, rumors started to circulate that Dave Grohl had told BottleRock powers-that-be that if they made it to year five, the band would come back and play the festival. Here we are, celebrating BRNV’s fifth year, and good to his word, they were ready to bring it! I didn’t know when they started, but early on Grohl admitted that the band hadn’t performed in two years (with the exception of a very secret show at The Blue Note in downtown Napa just days prior). It was hard to believe, given how good they sounded. On the other hand, it made Grohl’s boundless energy make sense, as he hadn’t had the surge of fan love and crowd electricity in quite some time.

Dave Grohl is all energy, and a class act to boot (Photo credit: BottleRock Napa Valley / Latitude 38 Entertainment)

Highlights from the beginning of Foo’s set included “All My Life,” “Times Like These,” and “Learn to Fly. At this point, Grohl announced that he figured “we’ll play until everybody leaves,” jokingly adding, “that’s like another twelve minutes?” Whether or not Grohl knew how strict BottleRock is about the 10:00 pm curfew for its Napa neighbors, I can’t say, but this was the first of several mentions Grohl made to the fact that the band essentially intended to keep the ride going till the wheels fell off.

Interestingly, while Grohl was making his initial claim that they would play till they could play no more, the sound went out for at least a full minute. (Maybe two?) We couldn’t help but wonder whether or not this was BottleRock making a point about the curfew, and how long they would allow the band to play, and who was in charge? (From my personal experience I already knew that they weren’t afraid to cut a band’s power, having experienced it with bands like The Cure and Heart in the past.)

The set continued with “The Pretender,” “Big Me” and “My Hero” before Grohl proclaimed, “Goddammit, I miss this shit! I got the best fucking job in the world!” Then came a teaser of a Queen cover (“Another One Bites the Dust”), “These Days,” a little “867-5309/Jenny,” “Skin & Bones,” and “Monkey Wrench” before Grohl’s next mention that “usually we don’t do encores we just play until they kick us off! We have too many fucking songs; I don’t want a fucking clock!” Grohl then invited the crowd to join him in singing “Best of You,” after which he asked them to sing “Happy Birthday” to his wife, Jordyn, who he said was “in my dressing room drinking all my fucking booze!”

Grohl may have been purposely ignoring the clock, but I wasn’t. I knew the time left for Foo Fighters to wrap their set was coming close to its end, and I wanted one more song, and one in particular. Grohl thanked the dissipating crowd for making it the “best way to come back,” promising “we’ll be doing a lot more of this, after this” before finally beginning “Everlong.” As was expected by the locals, halfway through the song, the proverbial clock chimed 10:00 pm and Grohl’s microphone was cut immediately. I admit, I thought maybe they’d let them finish the song; I hoped it, even. But no. In response, Grohl simply continued to sing without power as thousands of fans finished the song with him amidst great cheering.

And just like that, it was all over, again. Thankfully, BottleRock is good about softening the blow of the festival’s end each year by announcing the following year’s dates. So I’ll be ready to do it all over again next Memorial Day weekend! In the meantime, it’s all love for BottleRock Napa Valley!

BottleRock: it’s all love (Photo credit: BottleRock Napa Valley / Latitude 38 Entertainment)

Stacy Scales

California native. Therapist. Word nerd. Music lover. Linguaphile. Amateur foodie. Basketball junkie. Travel enthusiast.

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