One of the premier rock and roll festivals in America is just around the corner. BottleRock Napa 2019 returns to Napa Valley on Memorial Day Weekend and we’ve got the 4-1-1 on who you need to check out. With headliners Mumford & Sons, Neil Young & Promise of the Real, Pharrell, Santana, and Imagine Dragons, you’ll know where to go when the sun sets. But if you’re looking for some help on who to check out earlier in the day, we got you.
This might in fact be BottleRock Napa’s deepest undercard yet. There’s so much good stuff up and down the lineup, it can be a bit overwhelming. So we highlighted 10 of our favorites! This has grown into one of my favorite festivals to attend because it is so laid back compared to others.
Last year, we spoke with BottleRock Napa’s Dave Graham about how BottleRock Napa has thrived despite the festival bubble seemingly bursting elsewhere. Check it out if you missed it the first time around. Otherwise, find below some bands for your schedule next weekend.
If you want to see the full BottleRock Napa 2019 schedule, you can find it here.
6:30 to 7:30 PM at Firefox Stage
One of the few non-guitar acts on the bill, this synthpop duo does so much for being just two people on stage. Not currently in an album cycle, this is their only show until November. They dropped What Now back in 2017, a fantastic album full of depth. I’ve seen Sylvan Esso at probably a half-dozen or more festivals over the years and they always deliver and always steal the show from the headliners. Vocalist Amelia Meath has immense swagger and vocal skills while Nick Sanborn turns the knobs. They are always good at getting the energy up and they’ll help give you a second wind on the first night of the festival.
4:45 to 5:45 PM at JaM Cellars Stage
Touring in support of her marvelous fourth solo record On the Line, Lewis just wowed me at her LA show this past weekend. She brings these songs to life with a seven-piece band, including a two-person strings section that adds even more depth. Lewis has been soundtracking heartbreak for almost two decades, first as a frontwoman for Rilo Kiley. She’s become one of the queens of indie rock and this album is sure to earn her some love come awards season. Don’t miss your opportunity to see her play these songs live.
1:00 to 1:45 PM at Lagunitas Stage
From the queen of the Valley, Jenny Lewis, to a band called Valley Queen. One of my favorite discoveries in the past couple of years, Valley Queen released their debut album Supergiant last year. It’s so old school rock and roll and singer Natalie Carol has a powerhouse voice. As much as she can rock, she also can turn things down a bit for a proper ballad. This will be a great way to kick off the second day of the festival as their music pairs well with the early-afternoon sunshine. This set will wake you out of your hangover swiftly.
GARY CLARK JR.
4:45 to 5:45 PM at JaM Cellars Stage
I’m sure if you’re attending BottleRock Napa then you’re already aware about Gary Clark Jr. But on the off chance that you’re not familiar, or you haven’t given him a listen in a bit, he put out a new album this year. This Land is a completely different Gary Clark Jr. than you’re used to hearing. Sure, it’s still got some bluesy rock and roll to it. But he also mixes in a ton of different sounds, from punk to reggae to even hip-hop. It culminates in being one of my favorite albums of the year. His guitar playing is so godly that people often forget how great his singing voice is. He can hit notes like he’s Leon Bridges. If you were smart, you picked up tickets to his BottleRock after show on Friday night too.
6:15 to 7:15 at Bai Stage
Another of the handful of non rock and roll acts billed at BottleRock Napa 2019, Marian Hill is also currently not on an album cycle. They’re currently working on new music after putting out last year’s excellent record Unusual. This electropop act has a much different slant to it than most. There’s a jazzy aspect to it thanks to the saxophone of their collaborator Steve Davit. Lead vocalist Samantha Gongol has a ton of unexpected swag and brings a lot of fire to their tunes. Their album last year is one of the few that could be your entire bedroom playlist, as I wrote in my album review.
4:00 to 4:45 PM at Firefox Stage
I consider these guys future kings of alt-rock radio. They blew me away with their 2017 album Don’t You Worry, Honey. It’s a dark electro-rock record that singer Landon Jacobs gets really deep on. It’s sort of like Third Eye Blind in the sense that the music is catchy and upbeat as hell, even though the lyrics themselves are somber. I’ve seen them live a handful of times and they always bring it. Jacobs has a really unique voice and they sound a lot different than most stuff you hear on the radio. They know how to write hooks and their drops in songs always hit hard live.
1:30 to 2:15 PM at Firefox Stage
Led by powerhouse songwriter Lydia Night, this high-energy garage rock band will get you tapping your toe right out the gate. They’ve shuffled their lineup often throughout the few years, but Night has been the constant. She writes the songs and has a wonderful perspective as a teenage feminist. There’s a bit of ’60s doo-wop and surf rock to their sound as well. This is the best recommendation to kick off your Saturday at the festival. Last year’s Attention Seeker EP was a step forward for The Regrettes — hopefully there’s more where that came from.
6:45 to 7:45 PM at Firefox Stage
One of the best young live performers currently out there, you cannot miss her set. Sultana is a Jill-of-all-trades that can play more instruments than you have fingers. She is capable of going off on 10-minute solo tangents that will blow you away. Her debut full-length album Flow State dropped to critical acclaim last year, and the live show eclipses the album in terms of enjoyment. Her voice is just one of many instruments Sultana knows how to use to perfection.
5:15 to 6:15 PM at Firefox Stage
7:30 PM at JaMPad Stage (VIP)
Bishop Briggs delivers insane energy every time she steps on a stage, to the point that you can burn calories just watching her bounce around. She dropped her debut album Church of Scars last year and is taking a victory lap. You’ve certainly heard her songs on the radio, as she’s been an alt-rock staple since first busting out. If you’ve ever been on the fence about her, go see her at BottleRock Napa and then try tell me she didn’t convince you she’s the goods.
GANG OF YOUTHS
2:15 to 3:15 PM at Firefox Stage
I first became aware of Gang of Youths thanks to some well-done pressing from their publicist. About a week out from their sold-out LA gigs at the Moroccan Lounge, I finally caved and gave them a listen. I was blown away by their musicianship and the songwriting of Dave Le’aupepe. There’s a bit of Springsteen in their approach and the live show is fireworks. The below song “What Can I Do If The Fire Goes Out?” is one of my favorite songs of the last couple of years. I must have listened to it a hundred times, and it’s just one of many earworms they’ve written.
Hopefully this helped you figure out your schedule for next weekend’s festival! If you haven’t already, read last year’s interview with festival promoter Dave Graham, who helped us see why BottleRock Napa has grown into one of the most successful festivals in America.