80.3 F

Davis, California

Monday, May 20, 2024

Bottlerock: where music, food, booze live in harmony

Music festival takes place in Napa

Located in the heart of wine country, this up-and-coming music festival is appropriately themed and centered all around wine. Though sponsored by Jam Cellars, there was a wide selection of other wine labels to choose from and, in addition to wine, a plethora of beer and spirit options too. “The Beer Bend” beer garden hosted a list of various IPAs, Hop Valley, Lagunitas and more. Others around the festival included Ketel One, Hendrick’s and Milagro Tequila.

With bellies full of booze, there was a full Culinary Garden of food to select from, including tacos from La Calenda and gourmet pizza and giant buckets of buttermilk fried chicken from Ad Hoc. Other, more elevated options, included sushi, vegan cheese boards and the most aromatic paella my nose has ever had the pleasure of smelling. I could have spent a quarter’s tuition on all they had to offer.

The age range varied from an older crowd to the age range of other music festivals like Coachella, but there were also a fair number of families — think Neil Young crowd mixed with kiddos jamming to Pharrell’s “Happy” and every age in between. I even spotted a couple of babies in Bjorns.

Some of my best memories from the festival came from people-watching in the crowd: a circle of middle-aged women sipped glasses of cab and passed around a joint while shaking their hips to “Insane in the Brain” at Cypress Hill and a thirty-something year old man danced and twirled his mother to Mumford and Sons. The vibe was refreshingly mature, no pushing or shoving in large crowds — in fact quite the opposite. I often found myself conversing and dancing with the people next to me, exchanging smiles and good energy.

While it wasn’t possible to see all of the performances from the stand up lineup this year, I did my best, and the following were my favorites.

Logic was one of the few hip-hop artists on this year’s line up, differing from the mostly indie, alternative, rock vibes, but his performance was easily one of my tops.

“Look to your left, and look to your right, tonight, these people are your family,” he said.

Logic proclaimed that his goal in creating music is to spread peace, love and positivity, something that may not come across from the chorus of his song “Killing Spree” — “A**, titties, pu***, money, weed” — but if you listen closely beyond the vulgar lyrics, he uses the song to speak against anti-Muslim rhetoric and call attention to the way our generation lives life through the lens of our phones.

A wildly talented spitter, I’ve never seen anyone’s mouth move so fast. Between songs Logic stirred up the crowd with chants, unifying a crowd that was largely outside of his key demographic, but you’d never know looking in. He closed with “1-800-273-8255,” leaving with a smile that created big craters in his cheeks.

Logic wasn’t the only performance to spread peace, love and positivity. Pharrell ended Saturday night on a happy note. Strutting a “ye must be born again” hoodie, Pharrell moved and grooved with his cohort of talented back-up dancers. He may be better known as a producer, a mastermind behind songs by The Carters, Ariana Grande, Ed Sheeran, etc., but his own voice sure rocked the crowd.

After playing big hits like “Lemon” and “Happy,” the stage went quiet and the words “FREEDOM is the right to choose” graced the screens behind him. He spoke about abortion rights and the current political climate threatening Roe v Wade. He called out to all the women in the crowd, saying “thank you for standing together,” and then he sang his hit song “Freedom” twice.

The three brother trio AJR, a lesser-known indie-pop band known for songs such as “Sober Up,” “I’m Ready” and “Weak”, made a splash. AJR, which stands for Adam, Jack and Ryan, had the crowd smiling and swaying to their feel-good jams. A highlight of the set was when the brothers simulated a mixing session, layering the beats and talking the audience through their creative process.

The brothers live together in Chelsea, writing and producing out of their converted living room studio. Jack, the lead singer, wore a fur hat, striped board shorts and some beat-up Adidas and flailed his limbs as he sang, jumping around the stage like a rag doll. He was so entranced in their music and performance, it seemed he was never standing fully upright, tripping over himself gracefully.

Between songs, the brothers engaged in banter. At one point, they called on the audience to donate a new hat for keyboard player Ryan and Jack pointed to an audience member to pass up an American flag cowboy hat. Ryan put the hat on and said I feel like “a Jewish guy who goes to NASCAR for the first time and is like, ‘yea, I fit in.’”

Mumford and Sons took the cake on Sunday night, closing out the festival. They had the large, drunk crowd singing, swaying and jumping to their upbeat folk rock hits. The West London group played both old and new hits, ranging from “Little Lion Man” to “Believe” to “Guiding Light” and, the song that everyone was waiting for, “I Will Wait.” I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers, all belting the lyrics as loud as our hoarse, out-of-tune voices could go. Overwhelmed with joy, I left the festival smiling, hungry for next year.

Written By: Grace Simmons — arts@theaggie.org


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