BottleRock Festival 2023 Day One at Napa Valley Expo in Napa Valley, CA

The iconic California music festival, BottleRock, returned to wine country for it’s tenth anniversary, delivering its customary musical heavyweight lineup. BottleRock Napa Valley kicked off day one of its three-day run with an A-List lineup that included Post Malone, The Smashing Pumpkins, Thievery Corporation, Sgt. Splendor, Kenny Hoopla, Starcrawler, Beach Weather, Killer Mike, Billy Strings, and Airborne Toxic Event.

One of the first acts of the day to take the Truly stage was Sgt. Splendor, who delivered a soulful mix with a dynamic flow between funk and blues set that showcased their impressive musical range.

Friday afternoon also showcased a performance by Thievery Corporation, the eclectic electronic music duo known for their lush soundscapes, made their appearance on the Jam Cellars main stage. Thievery Corporation’s interchangeable singers made for a unique sound and genre-hopping world music tour. 

 The early afternoon is always Truly stage hangout time. Starcrawler, a Los Angeles-based rock band, brought the energy up a notch with their raucous performance. The most unpredictable and most fascinating Arrow DeWilde singer of the Los Angeles band Starcrawler brings a real energy kick with her mix of furious punk rock and catchy glam pop. The young quintet is one of the must-see acts on tour. If your tastes run to Iggy Pop and Courtney Love, this is one band and singer you can’t take your eyes off for fear you will miss something Arrow and cohorts will get up to on stage.   

Beach Weather from “Beach Weather, USA” made their Truly stage debut as well as playing an acoustic set at the VIP village stage, an intimate setting where attendees purchasing VIP entry can sit, order a drink, relax, and see short acoustic sets from their favorite artists. Beach Weather played two great sets. Performing their brand of pop rock in an acoustic setting and then plugging in and blowing away fans on the Truly stage.

If you’re looking for the latest up-and-coming, the intimate Truly stage always brings youth, surprise, and energy, and never disappoints. Ohio native Kenny Hoopla made an afternoon appearance on the Truly stage with a high-octane performance, bringing his brand of indie rock to the stage that had the crowd of young fans jumping and singing along. 

Up on the main Jam Cellars stage, things began to heat up for the headliners with Billy String taking the stage. The Bluegrass virtuosos took the stage and set it on fire with their non-stop stringed attack. Billy’s virtuosic guitar playing, soulful vocals, and the band’s mesmerizing performance of bluegrass and jam band music had the crowd in awe. 

Up on the Verizon stage, Killer Mike of Run The Jewels brought his “spiritual” hip-hop set to the stage. The Atlanta-based rapper and social activist brought a gospel-inspired hip-hop set to the stage. Nonetheless, the music, while not RTJ, carried a slightly different message, but came with the same weight and had his crowd fired up.  

Also appearing on the Verizon stage was Los Angeles’ Airborne Toxic Event. They brought their alt-rock sound to a very enthusiastic crowd. Airborne Toxic Event put on a powerful and emotional performance. The band played a mix of songs from their latest album, Hollywood Park, as well as their older hits. Mike Jollette kept the energy level high throughout the entire set with his passionate vocals and engaging stage presence.

As evening arrived, it was time for the dual headliners on the Jam Cellars and Verizon stages. BottleRock always brings the heavyweight heat for its headliners. This year was no exception with The Smashing Pumpkins on the Verizon stage, and Post Malone taking the Jam Cellars stage. The Smashing Pumpkins rocked the huge, tightly packed Napa crowd and crushed BottleRock and Napa Valley. The band played a set that spanned their entire career, from their early days as a college rock band to their more recent work as a more mature and sophisticated band. Billy Corgan’s vocals are still as powerful as ever, and the band is as tightly knit and as loud as you would want your arena rock to be. The crowd was singing, shouting, and pumping their fists to the chorus of anthems like “Bullet with Butterfly Wings.” The energy in the air was absolutely electric. It was a truly memorable performance and a perfect way to end the first night of BottleRock 2023.

 But wait there’s more! We did mention there were dual headliners. Making his appearance on the Jam Cellars main stage was none other than the hip-hop/pop hit maker Post Malone. Looking svelt and as healthy as we’ve seen him… well as healthy as you can look while smoking a cigarette, Post Malone made a mad entrance to a delayed/extended intro of his banger “Wow,” immediately bringing the massive crowd to a full-throated sing-along. The wildly successful entrance was followed by introducing himself by his birth name, Austin Richard Post, adding that he was there to “sing some sh*tty songs” and have a good time. Post Malone was also in a celebratory mood as it was his daughter’s first birthday. What followed was a high-energy show with Post Malone performing his biggest bangers and crowd-pleasers.

Day one of BottleRock 2023 ended on a high note setting the bar high for the rest of the weekend.

Website  Facebook  Twitter

About George Ortiz 67 Articles
George is Southern California and Big Sky, Montana-based photographer. He grew up in Los Angeles and began shooting professionally in the mid 80s. His words and photos have appeared in local & national publications.