As the world shows signs of returning to normal it is the little things that stand out the most. The opportunity to see people smile. The ability to high five a stranger. And the chance to stand in groups of thousands and take in your favorite band again.
With the sun shining down on the vineyards of Northern California and onto the stages of the 2022 Edition of the Bottlerock Napa Music Festival it was clear things were almost the way they used to be. As artists spanning the widest range of decades and genres graced the stages the thousands in attendance were experiencing something that seemed almost impossible two years before.
Live music was back and Bottlerock was ready to give the people the best time of their lives.
This was my second chance to check out this one of a kind festival after the incredible experience last year. With my expectations certainly raised I am happy to say I had just as great a time. Bottlerock Napa was three filled days of amazing bands, wines, and times that did not disappoint.
Bottlerock is truly a festival unlike any other and while I was able to attend it a second time I made five discoveries that made this year just as unforgettable as the years past.
#1- Oh, So this is why Metallica is considered one of the best bands of all time?
Every festival I make it a point to be as close as possible for one show. This involves a lot of strategy, clever manoeuvring and angering a large number of people because I am a very tall person.
Metallica was the show this year that I had to be as close as possible to see if the legend of the band would meet the reality. As the band came out to “Hardwired,” it was a warning cry of the rock that was about to commence. What followed was a non-stop roller coaster ride of heavy metal filled with 16 songs spanning their 41 year career.
The energy, intensity, and most surprising joy that came from the stage from the four rockers was exhilarating. “Fuel,” a favourite of my youth, including fire erupting all over the stage. “Fade to Black” saw lead singer James Hetfield playing two different guitars at the same time. But it was “Enter Sandman” that absolutely blew my mind. The opening guitar riff, the banging bass drum of Lars Ulrich, and the chance to scream “We’re off to Never-Neverland,” was something I truly will never forget.
#2 Women ruled the weekend
Bottlerock did an incredible job of including a lineup that was diverse and included equal representation. One thing that there was definitely an overwhelming amount of was women who ROCK.
From P!nk topping the bill (we’ll get to her shortly) to the Friday lineup which saw Misterwives and CHVRCHES go back to back, Bottlerock was a showcase for some of the best that the women of the music world have to offer right now.
Misterwives played one of my favorite sets of the weekend. The New York City group playing its first festival in 5 years was overwhelmed at the audience size and response. The massive positive reaction moved lead singer Mandy Lee to tears and pushed the band to play one of the best sets I have ever seen them play.
Following Misterwives was CHVRCHES – a personal favourite of mine – and lead singer Lauren Mayberry was equal parts mysterious and charming, all the while sounding as incredible as always.
Other powerhouse female-led acts taking to the stage included Delta Goodrem, Rainbow Kitten Surprise, Alessia Cara, Banks, Royal & the Serpent, Fletcher, and Aly & AJ.
#3 No one puts on a show like Twenty One Pilots
Twenty One Pilots is a band I’ve followed avidly since 2013. In 2016 I was able to catch them twice on their U.S Tour and wrote about what makes them a can’t miss act. So as the years have passed and the world has changed I was so interested in what the band could still do with their live act.
Good news! They still got it!
The band served as the headliners Saturday night and played a 90 minute long set filled with surprises, pyro, audience participation, and death-defying stunts as lead singer Tyler Joseph scaled to heights of 50 feet above the crowd to cap off “Car Radio.”
One of the most surprising moments of the set was when the band sat around a campfire and ran through classics like “I Can See Clearly Now,” “Careless Whisper,” “My Girl,” “Kiss From A Rose,” and “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, all while leading into their own hit “House of Gold.”
The blend of reckless abandon and music styles is what makes this band so interesting and popular. Their humility and joy of performing beam from the stage and it is impossible not to be enthralled.
Over 90 minutes the band never stops giving it their everything and you can’t help but leaving their show very impressed.
#4 P!nk soared above my highest expectations
After a three year break from performing, P!nk returned to close BottleRock. She absolutely crushed it, bringing hit after hit with a show that was filled with non-stop entertainment and surprises.
As well as through her deep collection of hits, from “Get This Party Started,” to “Just Give Me a Reason” and “U + Ur Hand” and many more, there were also tributes aplenty, with covers of “River” by Bishop Briggs and “Me and Bobby McGee” and “What’s Up?” by Four Non Blondes.
The most touching moment of all of Sunday was when she brought out her 10-year-old daughter Willow to duet “Cover Me in Sunshine.”
It was a mostly grounded set for her until the encore, returning with “So What” and soaring above the audience in her very well-known acrobatic act. Flying over every inch of the crowd, flipping and singing, giving the audience something they will never forget.
#5 There is simply no other festival quite like BottleRock
BottleRock has mastered its craft at being unlike any other festival. The line-up is a perfect blend of what music is offering today, encompassing so many genres, from metal to pop, rock to country, and even some EDM to boot. This makes for a wonderfully diverse crowd, and the sense that everyone will experience something new, and, even better, is excited to do so.
Surrounded by the gorgeous vineyards of wine country and the incredible climate of Northern California, you feel like you are in place unlike any other. And, of course, that means onsite vendors can offer up some of the greatest wines you have ever tasted, leading to a lot of very happy, relaxed festival goers!
It is hard to explain the vibe of BottleRock but it is as relaxed and enjoyable as any festival I have ever gone to. Appealing to the people who love the finer things in life, like a nice Cabernet, and a fantastically talented music act, it’s also an easy to navigate festival with something exciting around every corner.
BottleRock offered a surprise in 2021, and a warm welcome back in 2022 – I can’t wait to see what 2023 will bring!
Head HERE to learn more about BottleRock Napa Valley.
Headline Photo: James Hetfield of Metallica – Photo by Roth Rind