All Photo’s Courtesy of BottleRock Music Festival

Most tourists that visit Northern California come for the food, the wine, or the “counter-culture”.  But the reality of the situation is that Napa, California is home to one of the biggest and most diverse festivals in the state- BottleRock Music Festival.

As the years pass since the festival’s inception, the headliners have gotten better and the wine has gotten finer. I decided to change my Memorial Day routine and attend this festival to finally understand what all the craze was about.

Below I have highlighted The Reasons why I attended, The Surprises I discovered along the way, and Why I’ll be attending again next year!

The Reason why I went:

The Oldies, but the Goodies–

Earth, Wind, and Fire:
This American band is a classic. They span more musical genres than members of their group.  They range from R&B, to soul, Funk, Rock, and African inspired music.

Sadly, only 3 original members remain from the 1970’s band, but their sound remains unchanged.  They hands down changed the direction of disco music.


Billy Idol:

This Englishman is the definition of a Rock Star!  He first came to fame in the punk rock band-

Generation X and then embarked on his solo career.  His hits, such as “White Wedding” and “Rebel Yell” have gone down in music history and have made their way into popular films, such as The Wedding Singer!

Billy Idol put on a show that only a true 1980’s music lover could appreciate!  Though Billy might be physically older he still has the stage presence of a 20-year-old.


If this song doesn’t bring you back to an angsty high school place then you’re too young to understand why seeing Incubus was monumental. The band originally formed in 1991, but attained commercial success with their 1999 album “Make Yourself”, which had one of their chart-topping songs- Drive.  My 16 year-old-self was singing along to every word!

The Headliners–

The Chainsmokers!

Okay, it’s time for an honest moment– I am not a Chainsmokers fan.  Or at least I thought I wasn’t.  Their name on the flier wasn’t exciting to me and I was a little bit nervous that I would find myself in a sea of teenagers.

But then I saw them LIVE and (OH MY GOD) I’ve fallen in love!

My hesitation stemmed from only hearing their songs on the radio, but when it came down to the live show they not only turned their music into a dance party but also sampled everyone from Deadmau5, The Killers, Snoop Dogg, and Malaa (YES, MALAA!) Oh, and lets not forget about the drum solo with fire?!

🔥🔥 l 📸 @danilolewis

A post shared by Matt McGuire (@mattmcguiredrums) on

The Killers:

These Las Vegas natives have done it once again!  The band opened their set with one of their biggest songs- Mr. Brightside!  It was almost like they were telling the crowd “Hey, we’re here and we NEVER left!”

Brandon Flowers took us on a journey through time- playing songs from 2006’s “Sams Town” to their most recent album, Wonderful Wonderful.  As I sang out every word to every song, I looked around the crowd and saw people smiling from ear-to-ear.  Everyone knew that this set was something special.

Bruno Mars:

This performance was 24K GOLD! The only thing that would have made the crowd happier would have been if he wore a Golden State Warriors jersey.  WARRIORS!  That being said, his showmanship is truly remarkable.  Bruno Mars sells out arenas in minutes and BottleRock Music Festival was able to give their attendees an intimate experience which wouldn’t have been possible anywhere else.



Below are just a few pictures of the specialty cocktails that were served up while at BottleRock.  Besides, these beautiful cocktails there was a 3-store Gin bar, a Milagro Tequila Bar, an Absolute bar, and every type of wine and craft beer you could imagine.

HANDS DOWN– best drink out of them all was the Sun God! Hendrick’s Gin, Lillet Blanc, Fresh Cucumber, Lemon, Soda(Served CARBONATED over ice with sliced cucumber & lavender sprig).  It was incredibly refreshing on the hot summer day and tasted like pure heaven.

The Surprises I discovered along the way:


Yes, you read that correctly. Snoop Dogg was part of a successful Guinness World Record attempt on Day Two of the BottleRock Napa Valley festival. The other members of the team included fellow hip-hop legend Warren G and “Top Chef” winner Michael Voltaggio, who appeared together on the festival’s Williams Sonoma Culinary Stage.  Snoop Dogg set the record by mixing up the biggest cocktail that the people at Guinness had ever seen.  An official from the Guinness organization was on hand to present the certification of achievement to Snoop, Warren, and Voltaggio. The certificate proclaimed, “The largest paradise cocktail was created by Snoop Dogg, Warren G, Michael Voltaggio, Kim Kaechele and Kendall Coleman (All USA) in Napa, California, the USA on 26 May 2018.”

The drink took 180 bottles of Hendricks gin, plus juice donated by Whole Foods. The vessel/glass was 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide!  This was impressive to witness and honestly, I was surprised to have witnessed a record being set!

2. The Friendly Atmosphere

I’ve been lucky enough to experience all types of festivals- Day festivals (Lollapalooza/ Outside Lands), 5-6 camping festivals (Oregon Eclipse), Transformational festivals (Lighting-in-a-Bottle), 100,000 people festivals (Bonnaroo), everything!  All festivals are unique in their atmosphere and the crowds they draw in.  Sometimes, the crowds can make or break a festival and at BottleRock– THEY MADE IT!!

I was pleasantly surprised by the crowd demographic.  The attendees were young kids out with their friends, 30-somethings enjoying music with a side of wine, and families (old and young).  Everyone seemed happy to be there and share the experience together.  At every turn, people wanted to help each other out- whether given directions, taking a photo for you and your friends or just wanting to gush over the sets we had just experienced together– the atmosphere was unlike anything I’d seen.  It was diverse and beautiful.

BIG TIP: For anyone that is interested in attending a music festival for the first time or first-time with a family, I strongly suggest this festival.  The music is top-notch and the crowds/ staff are by far the friendliest.

3. The Music Diversity

The three-day music, wine, food, and craft brew fest, acquired by Live Nation last January, returns in its sixth year with a stellar headliner list that includes Bruno MarsThe Killers, and Muse. Other notable names amongst the 80 acts include IncubusSnoop DoggChainsmokersHalseyThe Head and the HeartEarth, Wind & Fire, and Billy Idol.  Do you see what I mean when I said this festival was diverse?

As you moved from stage to stage, you heard not only different types of music genres but also different languages!  One of my favorite sets from the weekend was from a Colombian artist- Bomba Estéreo.

The Reason why I’ll be back next year:

If you skipped to the end of this review and haven’t already read every-single-reason why BottleRock was AMAZING– Go back to the top and re-read!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *