BottleRock Napa Valley: May 30-June 1

largeRead our full coverage of BottleRock Napa 2013 HERE

In 1994 on Rancid’s “Salvation”, a then 29 year old Tim Armstrong wrote about driving over into Contra Costa county to pick up Salvation Army donations from the rich people in neighborhoods like Blackhawk. I’m almost 35 now, have loved punk rock since I first heard it, but figured out long ago that most wealthy people aren’t evil creeps, and living in a nice neighborhood doesn’t make you a sellout.

An hour or so north of Mt. Diablo and the subtly well off neighborhoods of Blackhawk and Diablo, you can find another nice part of California where the rich people hang out – Napa Valley. Only, the longer I live in California and the more I get to know my new state, the less likely I am to see things in terms of rich and poor. California is, in my opinion, a remarkably blended place, and one thing that always brings folks together is music, libations, foodstuffs, and good natured human contact.

If you are in Norther California May 30th – June 1st, and are craving afore mentioned good things in life, check out BottleRock Napa Valley. While the festival is facing the same struggles any second year festival with big dreams will face, once again, the promoters have managed to pull together a lineup that will have something to offer for all but the most unpleasant, bitter, skinny-pants wearing hipsters that can’t stand sharing a moment with anyone other than their sadness.

And there’s even a few acts that would pass for indie, if that matters.

Leading off, there’s The Cure. I’m curious to see if Robert Smith has mellowed over the years. Some of the best songs The Cure ever wrote weren’t black-hearted laments, but rather almost manic tunes about happiness such as “Friday I’m In Love” or “Just Like Heaven”. If anything can make ol’ Robert smile, it’ll be thousands of happy Californians singing along to beloved songs from their teenage years while tipping back cups of the best wine Napa has to offer.

Remember that time when Andre from Outkast got on stage at the Grammy’s and said “The South got somethin’ to say!”? Neither do most of the people in Napa Valley. But expect foot stomping beats, and yes, perhaps even some shaking of imaginary instant photographs when Outkast takes the stage.

Weezer is sure to be a crowd pleaser, along with beloved 70’s and 80’s legends Heart. Say what you want about them, Third Eye Blind had some of the best pop music of the mid 90’s, and considering the lead singer left behind his drug addled antics and now lives in the little town of Bolinas and owns an organic farm and spends a hefty amount of time and money promoting local artists, I’m curious to see how the years have treated the band.

If you’re in to dudes with big biceps that lick their lips a lot, LL Cool J will be performing. Sorry. I’m more of a De La Soul guy. Coincidentally, they are also gracing the stage.

Cracker, which I still believe to be THE most underrated band of the 90’s, will be playing their greatest hits. If “This is Cracker soul” doesn’t get you moving, you can always head over to see Matisyahu, Deer Hunger, Ben Sollee (actually, do go listen to Ben Sollee), Ed Kowalczyk, or if you haven’t been in a Home Depot lately and heard them on the PA system, Gin Blossoms.

Which, were actually a favorite band of mine in the early 90s

I digress.

The list goes on, with many lesser known acts bound to bring surprises, breakout performances, and a chance for you to freshen up your summer playlist.

Bring sunblock. Drink some water. Book your hotel now. Hurry up and buy a ticket.

And if you tire of the festival, head up to Santa Rosa to the Russian River Brewery for some Pliny the Elder, or up into the hills to Robert Foster Observatory to spend the evening looking at the stars through some of the nicest semi-professional astronomy gear in the United States

Napa’s a lot of fun, and a lot of the rich people you are bound to meet have cool stories. California’s also not all doom and gloom and drought and collapsing businesses. Come visit, spend a few dollars on wine, mingle with the locals, and hopefully we’ll see you back here next year. – Jordan Pritchard