“Does anyone here know why people drink wine for Shabbat?”, Kosha Dillz asked the audience on Friday before unveiling a giant loaf of Challah and throwing bread into the crowd. “It is so you can relax for the weekend, and all of you can participate in it today,” he said.
That’s how Day 1 festivalgoers observed “Shabbottlerock” — BottleRock’s first-ever Shabbat service by Brooklyn-based rapper and street performer Kosha Dillz at the Williams Sonoma Culinary Stage, where celebrity chefs and musical artists put on cooking demonstrations all weekend.
After a much-delayed comeback last September, the BottleRock music festival returned to Napa Valley Expo over Memorial Day weekend, bringing in thousands of music fans from Napa, Bay Area and beyond.
Around sunset on Friday, some fans broke into tears while the crowds roared almost as loudly as the music that played on the Jam Cellars and Verizon Stages by the headliners, San Francisco metal band Metallica and Norwegian house music producer Kygo.
The headliners for Day 2 on Saturday were indie pop duo Twenty One Pilots, hip-hop supergroup Mount Westmore and Southern rockers The Black Crowes, for whom the fans gathered at the Jam Cellars Stage two hours before the performance to get the best view. Pop star Pink and country singer Luke Combs took over the big stages for Day 3 on Sunday.
“I died my hair pink to see Twenty One Pilots perform [at BottleRock],” said a festivalgoer, who identified himself as a “Napkin”— a term used to refer to a Napa resident. “I hope my phone camera can get them from here,” he said as he stood right behind the barricade that separated the VIP attendees from general admission.
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“Is this the VIPs here?”, Tyler Joseph of Twenty One Pilots asked pointing toward one side of the audience, and the crowd cheered. “Is this the non-VIPs?”, he asked pointing toward the other side, and that crowd cheered even louder. “I’m surprised you guys didn’t break out into a fight,” he said with a chuckle.
With about 40 food stalls, the festival brought some of the best — and some of the priciest — cuisines of Napa.
“This is definitely the most expensive festival, food and drink-wise,” said Sarah Battenburg, a Lincoln resident who was at the festival on Day 2 with her mother. She bought a grilled cheese sandwich, tater tots and a cocktail, while waiting for North Carolina indie rock band Rainbow Kitten Surprise to perform. “You would expect the food to be cheaper at a concert, but it is different here. I spent $26 on my grilled cheese and tater tots, but it tasted so good that it felt worth every bite,” Battenburg added.
Festival artists such as Fantastic Negrito, Mandy Lee of MisterWives and Madame Gandhi took the opportunity to speak about gun violence and abortion. Oakland-based blues singer-songwriter Fantastic Negrito, who lost his brother to gun violence when he was 14, shared that the issue was particularly personal to him.
“Regulate guns and not human bodies,” said electronic music artist Kiran Gandhi, known by stage name Madame Gandhi. “A lot of men have asked, ‘If the future is female, then what about men?’ We need you, men,” she said, before performing her 2016 number “The Future Is Female.” “Just the way that when they say, ‘Black lives matters,’ you cannot say that all lives matter. Not all lives are disproportionately incarcerated in this country.”