BottleRock Napa, Metallica turn out to be a great couple

Fans have gone over 27 months between BottleRock Napa Valley festivals.

When they finally returned to the festival site in September, it was for the first time since May 2019. For many music lovers, it felt even longer than that, as the pandemic-fueled pause in performances in live and large gatherings continued again and again.

Thankfully, fans didn’t have to wait long for the 2022 edition, which was moved back to its usual Memorial Day weekend location and therefore arrived just over eight months after the 2021 event.

To say fans like this shorter wait better is a gross understatement. Judging by the number of happy faces, sunny chants, and fist bumps/hugs seen on the first day (Friday May 27) of the sold-out three-day festival, these fans absolutely loved being back at the site of Napa Valley Expo so soon.

The only thing that seemed to outnumber the smiling faces was the overwhelming amount of black Metallica t-shirts in the crowd.

Yes, the best-selling Bay Area band of all time was the biggest selling point of day one. Yet there were plenty of other good reasons to show up as well, including Scottish synth-pop band Chvrches, South Carolina country-blues-soul rocker Marcus King, Oakland blues-R&B talent Fantastic Negrito, the Norwegian DJ-producer Kygo and Los Angeles. hard rock band Dorothy.

NAPA, CALIFORNIA – May 27 – Fantastic Negrito performs on the JaM Cellars stage during day one of the BottleRock Napa Valley Music Festival. (Chris Riley/Times-Herald)

Day one was definitely our pick for the most appealing day of the festival, largely because it marked Metallica’s debut at the festival, but also because we really wanted to see Dorothy, King and Japanese psychedelic rock band Kikagaku. Moyo. We also liked how Day One’s Bill was a bit more hard rock oriented, with Greta Van Fleet, the Alive and Bastardane adding even more to the headbanging mix.

Still, we can also understand how some people would prefer Day 2 with Twenty One Pilots and Mount Westmore – featuring hip-hop legends Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, E-40 and Too $hort – headlining.

And the closer Day 3 is the most star-studded of the trio, with Pink, Luke Combs and Pitbull ready to wave to the crowd.

But those who think of BottleRock solely in terms of music are missing several elements from the overall equation. It’s also about taking advantage of all of Wine Country’s food and drink options, which are – to put it mildly – ​​quite plentiful at the festival.

The best place to have fun is the increasingly popular Williams Sonoma Culinary Stage, which pairs sports and music stars with celebrity chefs. It’s hosted by Liam “Foodie Chap” Mayclem and features celebrity attendees such as San Francisco 49er George Kittle, Oakland A legend Rickey Henderson, Day 3 Main Stage headliner Pink, and country artist incredibly popular Luke Combs in 2022.

Day one got off to a good start as Dorothy – the hard rock band fronted by formidable vocalist Dorothy Martin – kicked off the festivities on the main stage at JaM Cellars at noon.

“OK, BottleRock – you’re about to have a great (expletive) day!” Martin said to the crowd.

NAPA, CALIFORNIA - May 27 - Dorothy Martin performs on the Jam Cellars stage during day one of the BottleRock Napa Valley Music Festival.  (Chris Riley/Times-Herald)
NAPA, CALIFORNIA – May 27 – Dorothy Martin performs on the JaM Cellars stage during day one of the BottleRock Napa Valley Music Festival. (Chris Riley/Times-Herald)

Another distinct highlight was Marcus King, who lived up to the massive hype (and then some) by delivering one incredible country-blues-soul-rock number after another.

His voice was stellar, while his guitar worked even better and he faced a phenomenal band. Along with presenting material from his own Grammy-nominated catalog, King also gave the crowd great covers of Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over” and Heart’s “Barracuda,” featuring the sensational guest vocalist. Hannah Wicklund attending Ann Wilson’s high-flying party on the latest.

For the uninitiated, please waste no time boarding the Marcus King train – as it is already crowded and it will only get bigger.

NAPA, CALIFORNIA - May 27 - Crowds wave to fans as Marcus King performs on the Jam Cellars stage on day one of the BottleRock Napa Valley Music Festival.  (Chris Riley/Times-Herald)
NAPA, CALIFORNIA – May 27 – Crowds wave to fans as Marcus King performs on the JaM Cellars stage on day one of the BottleRock Napa Valley Music Festival. (Chris Riley/Times-Herald)

Metallica closed the day triumphantly with an approximately 2-hour set filled with classics such as “Seek and Destroy”, “Fade to Black”, “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “Sad but True”.

“Metallica is extremely grateful to be here after 41 years,” singer-guitarist James Hetfield told the crowd, which seemed to be split about evenly between Metallica concert veterans and newbies. “We don’t take that for granted.”

The quartet – Hetfield, lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, bassist Robert Trujillo and drummer Lars Ulrich – closed the epic main set with a thunderous version of “Master of Puppets”, only to return for a three-song encore that followed. is finished with “Enter Sandman.”

BottleRock Napa Valley continues through Sunday, May 29. Visit bottlerocknapavalley.com for more details.

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