If one weekend were to capture California’s wine country and its world-class entertainment, BottleRock Napa Valley 2016 would stand at the forefront. Now in the festival’s fourth year, more than 120,000 music, food and wine enthusiasts gathered this past Memorial Day weekend at the Napa Valley Expo.
The sold-out event brought music fans of all ages together to celebrate the spirit of timeless artistry as internationally-acclaimed Stevie Wonder, Florence + The Machine and Red Hot Chili Peppers each respectively headlined one of the festival’s three nights.
Wonder closed out Friday’s festivities with an unexpected portion of his set under the moniker, “DJ Chick Chick Boom,” during which he played the songs of late artists, such as Prince, David Bowie and Natalie Cole, among others.
Saturday concluded with a stellar performance by Florence + The Machine, while Red Hot Chili Peppers closed the weekend on Sunday with the live debut of their latest single, “The Getaway.”
Celebrated as “the first taste of summer,” the three-day festival was also in great culinary spirit as celebrity chefs, personalities and musical guests, such as Gordon Ramsay, Adam Richman, Dwight Clark, Vernon Davis, Grouplove and Foo Fighter’s Taylor Hawkins demonstrated the region’s ability to satisfy a diverse appetite for entertainment.
More than 70 musical acts throughout the weekend included: a classic Lenny Kravitz, a crowd pleasing The White Panda, hip-hop legends The Pharcyde, up-and-coming Alina Baraz, the ever-evolving Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, and a special pre-teen band, The Helmets, which were joined onstage by bassist Tye’s father Robert Trujillo of Metallica.
Beyond the Napa Valley-based wine garden and craft beer garden, more than a dozen artists representing the Northern California music scene were carefully crafted into the music lineup, including: Michael Franti and Spearhead, La Misa Negra, Heartwatch, The Deadlies, Royal Jelly Jive and Fantastic Negrito.
In a brief interview, Fantastic Negrito explained California-culture’s influence on his artistry and the way it has permeated into his own musical persona.
“I would be in East Oakland and you would hear, ‘Negrito, negrito,’ all the time in the Mexican songs and so it was in my consciousness,” he said. “When I discovered black roots music, which I ignored my whole life, I discovered geniuses like Skip James, Charley Patton and Robert Johnson. I told myself I would call myself Fantastic Negrito, so that every time someone asked me about Fantastic Negrito I could say those names, so that people would understand the genius of that music and that music came from an extremely profound struggle and it’s really shaped pop culture and world culture.”
As artists like Fantastic Negrito continue to grow through the roots that have come before them, so will BottleRock continue to demonstrate its ability to stand as a world-class stage of diverse entertainment, while staying true to its local roots of culinary and musical talents.
Having officially announced the dates for next year’s festival set for May 26-28, BottleRock Napa Valley is looking at an optimistic future.
Photos by Walter Aguilar and Cesar Alexander