Review | Photos | Day 5 | BottleRock | Napa

Images by: Sterling Munksgard & Joe Russo
Words by: Eric Podolsky

BottleRock Festival :: Day 5 :: 05.12.13 :: Napa Valley Expo :: Napa, CA

Full review below photo gallery!

By the fifth and final day of BottleRock Napa Valley, the audience had settled into a nice groove. Having familiarized themselves with the setup and flow of this first annual festival's grounds, the crowd was able to enjoy this hot Mother's Day Sunday in the sort of carefree, drifting way that a festival should be enjoyed. This is a testament to how well thought-out and well-run this event was, as first year festivals can tend to be logistical nightmares. And though the crowd definitely ran older than your typical Cali festival audience, this made for an eclectic atmosphere where music lovers young and old grooved the day away in a sunny, happy co-existence.

The eclectic lineup had something for everyone, from the indie-pop of Grouplove and Rogue Wave, to 90's FM hitmakers Cake, the Wallflowers, and , to the country hit- makers Kacey Musgraves and The Zac Brown Band. Yes, it was hipsters, hippies and cowboys all hanging together, getting down in the sun. This unique something-for-everyone approach must have worked, as the festival has already announced dates for next year.

Sunday Highlights:

Mavis Staples – 4:00-5:00 PM – Miner Family Winery Stage

Having been in the music business for 63 (!) years now, Mavis Staples is no stranger to getting a crowd working. And though we were all expecting a good time, few expected such energy and power from a woman of 73. Backed by a rocking band with a decidedly rootsy T-Bone Walker vibe and three backup sigers, Mavis was in truly high spirits as she belted her way through infectious Staple Singers hits like “I Like The Things About Me” and “Let's Do It Again,” which featured the most perfect sunny day groove anyone could have asked for. There were too many highlights to count, including a funky take on P-Funk's “Can You Get To That,” a Levon Helm tribute with “The Weight,” and “You Are Not Alone,” a surprisingly great new song that Jeff Tweedy wrote for Mavis. But the set achieved best-of-the-day status with the closer sing-along of “I'll Take You There,” which got everyone involved and dancing harder than few other acts could.

The Wallflowers – 6:15-7:15 PM – Citi Bank Stage

I have to admit I found myself much more excited than I expected to be for this set once Jakob Dylanand Co. opened with a rootsy take on Marvin Gaye - via - The Band's “Dont Do It.” Make no mistake, this is a tight, killer band. (Who knew that Jack Irons was their drummer?) Their sound is just as satisfyingly rockin', rootsy, and catchy as it was in 1997, and they did a great job spacing out their obvious radio hits with well-selected covers and lesser-known originals. “The Letter” was a fun piano-ticklin' rework of a classic oldie, and the fantastic original “I've Been Delivered” had Dylan doing his best Springsteen-esque raspe. The soaring B3 organwork of Rami Jaffee added the heart to the music's duel-guitar attack, and gave new life to the tunes we all knew, like “6th Avenue Heartache” and the eternally great “One Headlight,” which will never get old for me. After Dylan showed his soul with a deep take on David Bowie's“Heroes,” we all sang along with “The Difference” to close, and left this set surprisingly and supremely satisfied on many different levels.

Rodrigo Y Gabriela – 8:15-9:30 PM - Miner Family Winery Stage

There's nothing like a good dose of flamenco-metal to usher in the night. Having heard many things about this virtuoso duo from Mexico, I was excited to check out what all the fuss was about. And right from the opening chords of Slayer's “Raining Blood,” it was clear that I wasn't going to be catching any of the Zac Brown Band tonight. As Gabriela Quintero held down the lightning-fast rhythm guitar parts and percussion (by slapping the guitar body), it gave Rodrigo Sanchez ample room to shred plenty of Spanish-tinged metal riffs in complex, rhythmically-challenging song structures. With Marshall amps powering their acoustic guitars, the duo's fully instrumental set was a heavy, blazing dose of amplified virtuosity that was almost too much to absorb all at once. Pacing the stage back and forth, the two would occasionally lock eyes in intricate duels that were so tight and dialed- in, it sounded like they shared a brain. The set flew by in a happy blur of riffs and staccato power chords, and though I wasn't familiar with their originals, there was definitely a part of Metallica's “Orion” stuck in there somewhere. An awe-inspiring set, and a great way to end the festival.

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[Published on: 5/17/13]

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