NAPA — This year’s installment of BottleRock Napa Valley needed to restore faith in the brand after last year’s inaugural campaign fell into a financial maelstrom.
In addition to gripes from Napans about noise volume and traffic, debt for the music and food festival’s 2013 first installment ballooned to more than $9 million to creditors, leading to new promoters to take over the festival in January.
An estimated 20,000 attended Friday’s events with 30,000 expected Saturday, many of whom were excited to see Atlanta hip-hop duo OutKast perform one of its first shows in more than a decade.
No sign pointed greater to the rebuilding than Friday’s closing, when the festival pulled the plug on legendary British rockers The Cure as they started “Why Can’t I Be You?” as the clock struck 10 p.m.
“That was by design,” said Dave Graham, chief executive officer of Latitude 38 Entertainment, the new promoters. “We were clear with the headliners that 10 p.m. was a hard stop. . . . If you end early, perhaps people will stop by downtown and that’s what happened. People told us businesses were jampacked.”
It also spoke to the noise complaints from Napa citizens, some of whom have backyards that back up to the festival grounds at the Napa Valley Exposition.
Graham said the biggest complaint he heard from concertgoers was one beyond his control – the breeze that rolled in as the sun set and The Cure played a scorching set, the same wind that helps make Napa favorable for winemaking.
Joining more than 60 artists were dozens of wine and food vendors offering their wares, including Red Stitch Wine owner and former San Francisco Giants shortstop Rich Aurilia.
Aurilia said he made the switch from baseball to wine easily.
“You basically have to look at every year as a separate year,” Aurilia said.
Because of the rebuilding, the new promoters had approximately 40 days to book talent for this year’s three-day festival.
While the festival was able to pull in big names to top the bill, many others filling the lineup card were artists whose greatest success came in the 1990s, with some artists championing hits that verged on being two decades old.
On Saturday afternoon, popular rock bands from the Bay Area in the late 1990s took opposing stages, with San Francisco’s Third Eye Blind at the helm on the main stage while San Jose’s Smash Mouth took the Miner Family Winery Stage. Each blasted through a set of hits from before the turn of the millennium.
Lesser known acts also had an opportunity to shine. Los Angeles indie folk rockers Miner and Kentucky rock quintet Moon Taxi stood out as surprise favorites Friday. On the festival’s smallest stage on Saturday, San Francisco’s The Soft White Sixties played an energetic set of blues rock while Brookyln-based Matt & Kim brought confetti and balloons along with their vivacious indie pop.
Today’s lineup includes country singer Eric Church, hip-hop legend LL Cool J, pop singers Barenaked Ladies, piano rockers The Fray and indie rockers Deerhunter. For more information, visit BottleRockNapaValley.com.
To read more of Nick DeCicco’s blogs, visit http://dailyrepublic.typepad.com/forthoseabouttorock. Follow him on Twitter @ndeciccodr.