BottleRock 2016 Diary – Day One

BottleRock 2016 was the first multi-day music festival I’ve ever attended, so suffice to say I was pretty stoked at how awesome the weekend was. I enjoyed three days of wonderful music and got to check a couple artists/bands off my bucket list! I’ll be posting a “diary” of each day about the bands I checked out. Here are my thoughts on day one. Enjoy!

My friend and I arrived to BottleRock at about 4 p.m. on Friday. Houndmouth was playing on the Midway stage as I switched my shoes and took in the mass surrounding of stages, various booths and located where the water fill stations were.

After getting our fill of water, we headed over to the Midway stage to watch the first few songs from Cold War Kids. I really enjoyed them and would have stayed to watch more, buuuuut Gordon Ramsay was about to be introduced on the Culinary stage, so we headed over to see him interact with the crowd for a little bit, before snaking our way through the large crowd at the Jam Cellars stage where I was beyond excited to see one of my longtime favorites–Lenny Kravitz!

Simply put, I love Lenny Kravitz. I’m such a fan of his music, so I was just thrilled at the opportunity to be standing amongst fellow music lovers singing along to some of my very favorite songs.

I’ve read criticism of his set for being a straight-forward performance of his hits, but I wasn’t mad at that at all. Granted, I love his 2014 release, Strut, and wouldn’t have minded a few tracks from it, but in a festival setting, the hits work. People know them, people sing along. No harm, no foul. In fact, due to a finicky amp, we were treated to an impromptu performance of “Again,” which about made me melt into the grass I was standing on.

I was extremely happy with his overall set, which is all that really matters.

Next up: the one and only Stevie Wonder!

Stevie Wonder actually played Outside Lands a few years back & I wanted to go, but life sometimes doesn’t work out. But I told myself that the next time he’s even remotely playing near the Bay Area, I was going and thus was my reason for wanting to attend BottleRock this year.

If there was a performer that had captured the attention of thousands of humans that evening, it was Stevie Wonder. I was pretty beside myself when he took the stage. Like, I knew it was happening, but in the moment, I was ready to burst into confetti out of sheer  joy.

I was introduced to Stevie Wonder’s music at a very young age. My dad once guest dj’d on KARA and dedicated “Isn’t She Lovely?” to me when I was like five or six.

Anyways, like a dream, Stevie Wonder walked onto the stage proclaiming his love for the audience and by getting a tad political, which hey man, he had thousands of people’s attention, I can’t think of a better way to spread the message of love and community.

He rolled through his own batch of hits, the crowd rightly freaking out over “Sir Duke,” “Higher Ground,” “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” and of course, “Superstition.” I loved all of those, plus “Master Blaster,” “My Cherie Amour,” and “Overjoyed,” which I absolutely was. It was a moment in time that I will never possibly forget. Granted, his 20-minute or so DJ set was unexpected, but looking back, it was just a celebration of music, which is what festivals like this is all about. I feel absolutely blessed to have been able to witness the genius of Stevie Wonder in person, so day one was a huge success!

However, after the show is the afterparty!

Once getting out of BottleRock parking, my friend and I headed to the Napa Opera House, where Nothing But Thieves was already on stage. Since we got there a wee bit late, we only caught their final few songs, but they were tremendous! Definitely would like to see them live again.

As it turned from late Friday night to early Saturday, one of my very favorite alternative rock bands, Atlas Genius, took the stage. As soon as they launched into “Stockholm,” (a personal favorite) off of their sophomore album, Inanimate Objects, the room was rockin’!

I like that the band’s set features a solid combination of both new tracks and songs from When It Was Now. Being that Inanimate Objects was one of my top albums last year, hearing the new material live is quite the treat! Additionally, they had a couple of A+ covers, including Drake’s “Hotline Bling,” which was mashed up with “Centred On You” and The Weeknd’s “The Hills,” which included guest performer Skylar Grey!

All in all, my first day of BottleRock 2016 was amazing (I don’t think I wound up falling asleep until after 5 a.m….#wired) and the weekend was only just getting started!

Stay tuned for the next installment of my BottleRock 2016 Diary!

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Kirsten Coachman

Kirsten Coachman is a Writer, Editor, and Arts & Entertainment Journalist from the SF Bay Area. When not listening to music or cheering on the San Jose Sharks, she's probably at the movies. Follow her on Twitter: @KirsCoachman

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