Bottlerock Festival preview

Photo courtesy of Rockcellar Magazine.

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Summer is here, and the festival season is upon us.

April’s Coachella is over and done, but that festival is old news, anyway. From Friday, May 30 through Sunday, June 1, Nor Cal music lovers will have a chance to experience the next big name in summer concerts, Bottlerock.

Held at the Napa County Fairgrounds, just an hour and a half north of Skyline College, Bottlerock is the perfect way to celebrate the end of classes. This year marks Bottlerock’s triumphant second event. After last year’s inaugural festival left the organizers in a financial mess, they are not taking any chances this year. The lineup is packed with more than 60 performers that range from ’70s rockers like Heart, to current cult favorites TV On the Radio.

With Bottlerock being held in the heart of wine country, a region also known for its Michelin-starred restaurants and tasty craft beers, the concessions are a far cry from hot dogs and Bud Light. Twenty one renowned local vineyards will be represented, and their vintners will be on hand to chat, as well. Aside from booths serving up the best of Napa’s culinary scene, chefs will also be mingling. Bottlerock will feature a roundup of Bay Area food trucks.

All this might seem a little overwhelming. The best option for food and beverage is to simply try a little of everything, but with so much music crammed into just three days, attendees will have to pick and choose.

Here is a quick guide to the must-see artists this year:

Best in show: Outkast

Napa may not be known for its hip-hop scene, but Bottlerock has stacked the lineup with heavyweights De La Soul, Matisyahu, and Outkast.

Matisyahu is famous for his live show’s blend of soul, rapid-fire verses, and masterful beat-boxing, and De La Soul is on the short list of artists that made hip-hop the legitimate cultural movement that it is today.

The star of this show, however, is Outkast. ‘Kast famously rehearsed their early shows while running laps around the block so that they could throw as much energy into their performances as possible and never stutter or drop a rhyme. The effort paid off. When Andre and Big Boy get started, it’s full throttle until someone turns the houselights up. If you see no other artists at Bottlerock, make sure you see Outkast.

Next best thing: Robert DeLong

Already a minor youTube sensation for his song “Global Concepts,” DeLong blends pop, hip-hop, and electronica in a style reminiscent of LCD Soundsystem. Given that the late, great LCD Soundsystem was one of the most feverishly engaging live shows of the last 20 years, DeLong is the one to watch this year.

If you don’t know him yet, you will, and if you want an artist that will make you get up and dance, he will.

Best 80’s throwback: The Cure

The Cure were emo before emo was cool.

Their style is reminiscent of a punk band doing jazz ballads, they looked like Tim Burton characters before Tim Burton was anybody, and they are the grand masters of shoe gazing.

The Cure are set to headline, and they have a catalogue full of potential sing-alongs that will get the crowd amped before a likely encore featuring the full eight minute version of “Pictures of You” that will send the crowd home worn out, weepy, and ready for that post-concert hookup.

Best 90’s throwback: Third Eye Blind

Bottlerock is heavy on the ’90s throwbacks, but while Sublime and Weezer were arguably bigger bands in their time, this version of Sublime is a sad shell of the original, and looking back on Weezer reveals a band more ironically lovable than talented and prolific.

Third Eye Blind quietly produced albums that landed 4 or 5 hit singles each, defining the alternative genre before alternative just meant white people music.

Hailing from San Francisco, their songs are often vignettes of, and odes to the City. In the shadow of Jack Kerouac, they riff on drugs, love, and the other accouterments of misspent youth like modern beat poets.

Best sunset make-out session: Noah Gundersen

If it looks like you’re watching Tim Lincecum singing acoustic folk rock, you may have stumbled into Gundersen’s set.

Straightforward man-and-his-guitar singer/songwriter music can get overlooked at big festivals, but if you need a break from dancing, or you want to set a romantic mood for your date, Gundersen is your man. The latter will be especially true if he brings along his sister, Abby, for duet harmonies. Just try to pretend they’re not siblings.

Best altered state show: The Black Angels

Some things never go out of style, and The Black Angels brand of psychedelic rock is one of those things, they just happen to be doing it better than anyone else out there right now.

The Black Angels are not exactly new on the scene, but you won’t be hearing them on the radio any time soon, either.

You don’t need to be intoxicated to appreciate their buzz-saw guitar riffs and wailing vocals, but it couldn’t hurt.