BottleRock 2024: one unforgettable weekend

by Gavin Meichelbock

Another year, another amazing BottleRock festival. Although the three day event has given its encore performance this past Memorial Day weekend, the musical and culinary artistry that was on display will have attendees clamoring for more until BottleRock 2025. The Napa stage not only promised big name headliners such as Stevie Nicks and Ed Sheeran, but also delivered on showcasing up and coming artists.

A lot happened during the 30 hours of festivities, so here are the biggest surprises, disappointments and highlights of BottleRock 2024.

Surprise number one has to be the first time BottleRock performers. People probably haven’t heard of Sophia Zamani before this festival but now that they have, they won’t be able to forget her. Her emotional voice is angelic, borderline perfect if there is such a thing. This fact was definitely noticed by the massive audience she was able to draw in to the small JaM Pad Stage. Zamani’s unique California country flair and heartfelt lyrics made all of her songs an emotional experience audiences connected with. She has her first EP coming out summer 2024 that everyone should absolutely listen to.

For anyone who hasn’t heard of Jared Harper, they should change that immediately. His music blends so many different genres from pop to rock to disco to country and he has the voice to carry every single style. Beyond his musical chops, he had the most genuine stage presence at the festival. It was one thing for The Offspring to thank the thousands of fans who showed up to watch them perform, but people would have seen them anyway. But for Harper to take the time between each song to point out his friends and family in the audience and thank the 30 some odd strangers who came to see him, really meant something. Harper has the talent, charisma and aptitude to go far and people shouldn’t be surprised when he becomes a headliner at BottleRock in the future.

While the food scene wasn’t the greatest, there was one definite standout. Danny & Coop’s is a Philly cheesesteak restaurant headed by Oscar nominated actor and guardian of the galaxy, Bradley Cooper as well as Danny DiGiampietro. The latter is also the owner of the best cheesesteak shop in America, Angelo’s. The sandwich was only available on Saturday and the line was immense, but it was worth it. The meat was super high quality, the cheese was uber creamy and at only $17.78, it was the best priced meal at BottleRock. The cherry on top of this beef flavored sundae was getting to watch Copper cooking up the cheesesteaks. Cooper and DiGiampietro are opening a location in New York and everyone in the area should check it out.

Even though the cheesesteak was incredible, the rest of the food was a disappointment. As to be expected, the food was overpriced. Even the stadium dogs sold outside of the festival as everyone was leaving were $10 — whereas the same hot dogs sold outside Arena are about $7. All the food also used bougie ingredient buzzwords such as wagyu, truffle and slow smoked. These words did not necessarily add flavor to the dishes, only dollar signs. There was also not enough variety in the offerings. The food court was a meat mountain of hot dogs, smash burgers and steaks — all of which could be thrown on top of mac’n cheese. Attendees were hard pressed to find a light and healthy dish that was still satisfying.

The musical disappointments were The Kid Laroi, BoyWithUke and The Beaches. The Kid Laroi disappointed audiences by not playing any of his hits. He angered the media by closing the photo pit 10 minutes before his first song. BoyWithUke’s performance started out good as he is a good performer who was fun to watch dance around on stage. However, he hardly sang any of his set as almost all of it was just the studio recording with him sometimes singing over it. But the biggest turn for the worse was when he was talking about how hard his childhood was while flexing his abs. Needless to say, this turned a previously relatable guy into a full on douchebag.

While The Beaches’ guitarist, Leandra Earl, carried their set by hamming up her performance, the lead singer came off as very bland. For the main vocalist of a punk-rock girl band, people would expect a huge stage presence, but she just kind of stood around. Credit where credit is due, she is the bassist of the group, a position not often filled by the lead singer.

With the low points out of the way, it’s now time for the highlights. The Moss absolutely crushed their set. The BottleRockers in attendance would not have expect rockstar energy from this group, but that is what the lead singer, Tyke James, gives every time he performs. He jumped around the stage, into the audience and has the vocals the bring it back for a passionate ballad about heartbreak and then turn it up for a hardcore rock tune. Although the Truly Stage was one of the smaller venues, The Moss made it feel like a headlining concert.

The Offspring had a performance that could only be described as, “Pretty Fly (For A White Guy).” They were not a headliner performance, but the crowd said otherwise. The Verizon stage was mobbed by fans, casual listeners and average festival goers ranging from little kids with braces to parents who haven’t gotten over their punk phase — and good for them. The mosh pit started at the second song and didn’t let up for their hour long set of hit after hit after hit. “Blitzkrieg Bop,” “Why Don’t You Get a Job,” “Self Esteem,” and the most incredible back-to-back encore performance of “The Kids Aren’t Alright” and “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid,” were but a few songs from their set. The Offspring’s crazy performance was phenomenal in its own right and an even better pregame for the unreal closer still to come.

Ed Sheeran is a national treasure who knows how to work a stage. He mixes all of his music live. There are no backing tracks, he instead builds his songs from the ground up later by layer. This level of musicianship in an artist to, be able to arrange their songs on the fly, is rare, to say the least. Sheeran was also always getting the crowd involved by leading different sections of the audience in friendly singing competitions of who could be louder. He also picked an outstanding selection for his set list. He didn’t just play his new upbeat stuff, but also whipped out his slower tracks that every college-aged BottleRocker grew up listening to. The phone flashlights lit up the night and everyone was singling along when he played his first major hit, “The A Team.” There were no better closing songs than “Shape of You” and “Bad Habits” to close out an incredible weekend or unforgettable music, food and so much more.

Even though there was a bit of beef with the food offerings, the music scene at BottleRock 2024 was better than anyone could have ever expected and certainly left people eagerly anticipating next year’s line up.

Featured Image Photographed by Cathryn Kuczynski/BruinLife

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