As the opening bookend to the Bay Area’s summer music festival season, the avid weekend warrior would do well to think of BottleRock as a warm-up. The three-day celebration is packed with some of the biggest names in pop, as well as plenty of amazing, lesser-known acts—not to mention the culinary celebrities, beer, wine and food.
Fitting all of that food and music into three days is a daunting proposition. However, compared to the logistical nightmare of crisscrossing Golden Gate Park for three days in an attempt to catch all the best headliners and indie darlings at Outside Lands, the Napa festival is a breeze.
Nonetheless, just as it’s important for families to have emergency plans, it is advisable to head into BottleRock armed with a lay of the land, a list of must see performances and appearances, and sunblock.
Getting a list started is easy. No-brainers include Stevie Wonder, Florence + The Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Lumineers and Death Cab for Cutie. On the Culinary Stage there are some pretty obvious choices as well: Gordon Ramsay of Hell’s Kitchen and Masterchef; comedy duo and masters of the munchies, Cheech and Chong; and Masaharu Morimoto of Iron Chef.
But what about all these other names on the bill? The ones that don’t immediately call to mind platinum-selling records or uber-popular Food Network shows? Don’t sweat it. That’s where we come in. Here are our picks for five can’t-miss performances and foodie presentations at BottleRock 2016.
Some of rap’s greatest artists rose to prominence in the early ’90s. Even grandma is familiar with the biggest names from hip-hop’s golden age: Biggie, Pac, Nas. The Pharcyde isn’t as much of a household name, even though most will recognize the L.A. group’s biggest hits. With their loopy, loping boom-bap beats, gymnastic flows and penchant for absurdist observation, this SoCal quartet is responsible for the iconic “Passin’ Me By” and uproarious “Ya Mama” from Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde and Latin-jazz flavored “Runnin’” from Labcabincalifornia. They haven’t dropped a proper album since 2004’s Humboldt beginnings, but that’s fine. After all, anyone attending a music festival in wine country ought to know, some things only get better with age.
Since graduating from Stanford University, Kristine Flaherty—better known as K.Flay—has forged a career as a rapper and producer. Born in Chicago, she moved out to California to study at The Farm. After that she moved Brooklyn for a time and was briefly signed to RCA Records. These days her base of operations is Oakland and she’s no longer on the major label (she left after refusing to squeeze herself into a more easily marketable mold, as execs there suggested). Nevertheless, she self-released the full-length, Life as a Dog, in 2014, which has earned her favorable press. Flaherty just dropped a new single, “FML,” an ode to split personalities.
This high energy garage rock duo sound a bit like The White Stripes—except both members are blonde women who hail from L.A. instead of Detroit. You can almost hear the Southern California sunshine glittering between the dusty, overdriven guitar stabs and tambourine shakes on their latest, blistering single, “Royal Jelly.”
Tre Cool & Mike Dirnt
The East Bay’s pop-punk success story, Green Day, won’t be playing this year’s BottleRock. However, the band’s drummer and bassist—Tré Cool and Mike Dirnt—will be taking to the culinary stage. The pair surely have learned some interesting food hacks over their years spent living in and out of tour buses. And Dirnt is himself a restaurateur. He is part owner of Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café in Oakland.
The young BottleRock festival is only a few years old, but it has already established certain traditions, such as inviting professional football stars to participate in its live food presentations. This year, 49er faithful will receive a special treat, as Dwight “The Catch” Clark will take to the Culinary Stage.