BottleRock 2024: A Symphony of Music, Wine, and Culinary Delights

Article Contributed by Gabriel David Barkin | Published on Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Pearl Jam, My Morning Jacket, and over 25 other acts rocked Napa Valley at the annual BottleRock festival on Saturday, May 25. The music was magnificent, the weather cooperated well enough, and concert attendees rounded out their experience – and perhaps their bellies – with a wide variety of muscats, chardonnays, and provincial farm-to-table cuisine. (This report only covers Saturday. Other headliners during the three-day weekend festival included Stevie Nicks and Megan Thee Stallion on Friday; Ed Sheeran and Queens of the Stone Age on Sunday.)

BottleRock Napa Valley

BottleRock Napa Valley | Napa, CA

BottleRock Napa Valley is one of NorCal's largest annual music festivals. For the past decade (only skipping 2020 due to COVID), BottleRock has presented a wide variety of rock, rap, pop, country, indie, funk, and Latin music performers. The festival organizers also do a damn good job showcasing the local flavors of this world-famous wine region, both literally and figuratively. About 20 local vineyards serve dozens of wines and other fermented spirits, including a selection of taste flights for novices and connoisseurs. The food selection includes perhaps more Michelin-starred restaurants than any festival in America.

Laura Kimpton’s selfie-magnet LOVE sculpture

30-foot bouquet of golden poppies

The ambiance is decidedly NorCal. A few Burning Man-ish art pieces are scattered around the grounds, including Laura Kimpton’s selfie-magnet LOVE sculpture. Tall cedars dot the landscape inside the fence lines, competing for airspace with installations of a 30-foot bouquet of golden poppies and a windmill. Oak-covered golden hills in the distance complete the scene.

BottleRock Napa Valley | Napa, CA

BottleRock Napa Valley | Napa, CA

The festival has nine venues, including the main stage in front of a large field ringed by VIP bleachers and food stands. There are three increasingly smaller stages (one of them shaded by a big pavilion) and two dance music scenes, an indoor club, and a Silent Disco experience. VIP ticket holders have access to a “private” stage. The popular Culinary Stage hosts cooking demos and pairs celebrity chefs with celebrity musicians, actors, and the occasional Stephen Curry.

Celisse | BottleRock Napa Valley

Music festival lovers know it’s impossible to see and do everything at events like this. Your humble reporter didn’t make it over to see T-Pain or Kali Uchis (okay, I admit, I never heard of her, but she did headline the second-biggest stage). I never even made it to all the smaller stages on this visit. And I arrived too late to see Celisse, catching only the last two minutes of her set. If I’d done more homework, I would have known not to miss a moment of her performance! That’s what festivals are like. Decisions, sacrifices, new discoveries.

BottleRock Napa Valley | Napa, CA

That being said, my report here focuses on three acts, with some notes at the end about some of the other performances of the day.


Pearl Jam is in the midst of a world tour that is nearing the end of its U.S. leg. They're featuring half or more of their new album Dark Matter (only their second album in the past 10 years) in the set list each night.

Pearl Jam | BottleRock Napa Valley

For two hours on the main stage at BottleRock, Pearl Jam alternated between new songs, a string of hits that have cemented their status as one of America’s most successful rock bands, and a few surprises. Fans who follow such things love that each night on tour is a completely different Pearl Jam show. Unexpected touches keep the old songs fresh – for instance, on Saturday, the band veered into a mini-cover of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)” at the end of “Daughter.” To top it off, singer Eddie Vedder freshened up the lyric with his own take on the classic refrain: “Preacher, leave our kids alone. Religion, leave women’s rights alone.”

Eddie Vedder | Pearl Jam

Vedder also gave a nod to the locals, saying Napa Valley residents were “lucky bastards” to get to live here. Later, during “Wishlist,” he extemporaneously added to the song’s list of wishes: “Drink red wine at noon o’clock – sounds a lot like BottleRock.” After that song, he told the audience he had one more wish to share: “What we’re really waiting for is a chance to vote for Steph Curry for president.”

Matt Cameron | Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam | Napa, CA

Pearl Jam’s lineup has been steady for the past 26 years. Relative newcomer Matt Cameron has sat behind the drum kit since 1998, backing founding members Vedder on vocals and guitar, Mike McCready on lead guitar, Stone Gossard on rhythm (and occasional lead) guitar, and Jeff Ament on bass. Touring members Boom Gaspar (keys) and Josh Klinghoffer (also a former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist) round out the sound when a bigger kick is needed.

Mike McCready | Pearl Jam

Jeff Ament | Pearl Jam

There may not be any other American rock band that can kick ass and take names as well as Pearl Jam.

Pearl Jam | Napa, CA

The new album might not win them any new fans, but it’s sure to please Pearl Jam acolytes, particularly those whose proclivities lean toward the louder, thrashier side of the ledger. “React, Respond” and “Wreckage,” two of the new ones in Saturday’s set list, may never earn the familiarity of “Why Go” or “Even Flow” (both of which were also in the lineup that night), but the audience pumped fists and played air guitar during McCready’s guitar solos on the newbies nonetheless.

Stone Gossard | Pearl Jam

Likewise, “Waiting for Stevie,” one of the most melodic songs on Dark Matter, may never earn the radio replays of “Black” or “Daughter,” the biggest singalongs of the night. Still, Vedder’s voice on “Stevie” has never been better, his range never more dynamic.

Eddie Vedder | Pearl Jam

The lyrics on Dark Matter occasionally suggest Vedder’s confidence and maturity, perhaps a shift from earlier, darker songwriting subjects. In “Wreckage,” he declares that, “I no longer give a fuck who is wrong and who's right.” But he also waxes nostalgic. In “Scared of Fear,” he recalls that, “We used to laugh, we used to sing, we used to dance, we had our own scene.” Uh, hey buddy, look at this crowd of 60,000 people. You’ve still got your own scene!

Pearl Jam | Napa, CA

Vedder talked between songs, introducing some of the new ones and occasionally bantering with front-row rail riders who waited hours for their favorite band. Toward the end of the show, he tossed tambourines to a few lucky folks.

Mike McCready | Pearl Jam

McCready built his energy during the show, delivering increasingly mind-blowing solos. During “Even Flow,” he played the entire jam holding his guitar up behind his head, walking about nonchalantly like he was just watering his lawn or some other mundane task. McCready long ago earned accolades as one of grunge’s premier lead guitarists, and anyone who didn’t already know that got schooled on Saturday night.

Eddie Vedder | Pearl Jam

After 90 minutes, the band left Vedder on stage for a solo version of his Eddie Cochran cover “Last Kiss,” which he dedicated to his wife. (A bit odd, considering the subject matter of the lyrics, but it is a love song, so there ya go.) Next, he introduced actor Bradley Cooper, and the two dueted on “Maybe It's Time,” a song Jason Isbell wrote for Cooper to croon in his movie “A Star is Born.” Cooper and Vedder share baritones, and they meshed well together.

Pearl Jam | BottleRock Napa Valley

Finally, the band came back for a few more rockers, closing with their anthemic first-album hit “Alive” before a raucous cover of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.” Gossard got to solo on that one, proving he’s no slouch sideman.

Pearl Jam fans at BottleRock Napa Valley

Pearl Jam – a force to be reckoned with, a band still in its prime after more than three decades.


A few hours earlier, My Morning Jacket (MMJ) owned a late-afternoon spot on the main stage. The Kentucky countryish jam band has come a long way from when I first saw them opening a three-act show in a San Francisco club over two decades ago. Those young kids barely looked up from their instruments to lock eyes with the audience during their short set, and Jim James hadn't yet become a powerhouse Energizer Bunny frontman.

My Morning Jacket | BottleRock Napa Valley

That was then. This is now.

My Morning Jacket | BottleRock Napa Valley

MMJ settled into their current lineup twenty years ago. Vocalist/guitarist Jim James, bassist Tom Blankenship, drummer Patrick Hallahan, guitarist Carl Broemel, and keyboardist Bo Koster long ago moved beyond their stage shyness and learned to work the crowd like seasoned pros. Hallahan began Saturday’s set with his sticks held high like he was leading a parade, commanding attention before he even pounded his first beats. Blankenship and Broemel were often on the move during the all-too-short hourlong performance, strutting to the front of the stage or toward the back to play eye to eye with Hallahan.

Jim James | My Morning Jacket

Tom Blankenship | My Morning Jacket

Patrick Hallahan | My Morning Jacket

Carl Broemel | My Morning Jacket

Bo Koster | My Morning Jacket

James is a prototypical frontman, a wild-haired ball of confidence and bravado. Whether clutching the mic or accompanying the music on guitar, he is as engaging to watch as he is to hear. Make no mistake though, it’s the music that drives this tour bus.

My Morning Jacket | Napa, CA

Both James and Broemel are talented enough to hog the spotlight as the sole lead guitarist in any band. The two trade off on leads from song to song, each earning “wooooos” from the large crowd. Even so, it’s James's voice that makes MMJ something special. He has a unique vocal quality, an alto range with timbre unlike any other singer I can think of. Maybe a hint of James Taylor, but also a big dose of – something I can’t put my finger on. Hence, unique.

Jim James | My Morning Jacket

Saturday’s set included both “Touch Me I'm Going to Scream, Pt. 1” (a mid-tempo rocker) and “Touch Me I'm Going to Scream, Pt. 2” (also mid-tempo, but more haunting and moodier). A cover of George Harrison’s “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)” gave James a chance to earn some points with newcomers unfamiliar with MMJ’s arcane catalog.

My Morning Jacket | BottleRock Napa Valley

The quintet closed their set with their most well-known song, “Wordless Chorus.” Members of the USC marching band accompanied MMJ on stage for this one. The audacity of singing “We are the innovators, they are the imitators” may be too much for some, but MMJ is indeed hard to define, hard to compare. It’s likely they earned some new fans who were waiting for Pearl Jam.

My Morning Jacket | BottleRock Napa Valley

Jim James | BottleRock Napa Valley

MMJ is on tour this summer. In addition to the usual lineup of festivals and amphitheaters, MMJ will play a "special" four-night run at San Francisco's Fillmore Auditorium this week. Watch this space for a report from one of those shows.


BottleRock Napa Valley | Napa, CA

Part of the vino-comestible experience at BottleRock is the action on the Culinary Stage. Saturday's guest chefs included BBQ king Rodney Scott cooking up some pig with T-Pain, and a fun, comedic intermingling of drag queen Bianca Del Rio with actors and life partners Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka. (Del Rio said she was, “A virgin … BottleRocker.”)

Steph Curry, Bradley Cooper, and José Andrés | Napa, CA

The biggest crowd of the day (and probably the whole weekend) at the Culinary Stage was another unlikely trio. Restaurateur and World Central Kitchen benefactor José Andrés welcomed guests NBA all-star Stephen Curry and actor Bradley Cooper for 30 minutes of silliness. At least 5,000 people packed the tiny lawn in front of the stage, and a scrum of over 40 photographers moshed in the pit. For the record, there were some people behind them who seemed to be preparing foods, but there was no actual culinary demonstration whatsoever.

José Andrés | Napa, CA

The “set” began with Andrés asking for a moment of silence for World Kitchen volunteers recently killed in Gaza. A serious moment of solace and contemplation was followed by an eruption of cheers for Curry when he swaggered on stage.

What followed might be best described as “Steph Curry throws things to the audience.”

Steph Curry throwing a disc to the audience

Steph Curry autographing some sneakers

First, he and Andrés tossed souvenir frisbees into the crowd. Next, they threw bags of potato chips. A fan tossed a pair of shoes laced together for Curry to autograph. He obliged and threw the shoes back. Later, he did the same with a Warriors cap.

Steph Curry with Bradley Cooper throwing some Philly Cheesesteaks to the crowd

Next, Andrés introduced Bradley Cooper, who came on stage with his new business partner Danny DiGiampietro from Philly’s famous cheesesteak spot Angelo’s. They brought with them a big box of foil-wrapped cheesesteaks – which he, Curry, and Andrés began tossing to the crowd. Curry also tried to sink a few sandwiches through a basketball hoop set up on the side of the stage while Cooper egged him on (and Andrés bet against him).

Fans trying to get an autograph from basketball phenom, Steph Curry

It wasn’t all just fun and frolicking. The hoops star was here ostensibly to market his line of bourbon, which he imbibed in copious amounts during the event to demonstrate its quality. Of course, he could have also been celebrating the birth of his fourth child with celebrity chef Ayesha Curry (who has also appeared on this stage at BottleRock). Either way, he was the obvious big draw, despite a smattering of Bradley Cooper fans.

Steph Curry & José Andrés high five at BottleRock Napa Valley

Andrés joked that it was nice Curry could be here instead of, well, still working. (The NBA postseason is Warrior-less.) Curry took it in stride; he seemed to be having the time of his life.


Roger McNamee and Dylan Chambers of Moonalice at BottleRock Napa Valley

Molo, Sears and Sless | Napa, CA

Jason Crosby | BottleRock Napa Valley

Dylan & Lester Chambers | BottleRock Napa Valley

Moonalice | BottleRock Napa Valley

Moonalice has appeared at many (if not all) BottleRock festivals. Benefactor Roger McNamee has assembled a stellar post-COVID lineup that features vocals from Lester Chambers (of the Chambers Brothers) his son Dylan Chambers, and the T Sisters (“sassy sister folk” trio Erika, Chloe, and Rachel Tietjen). An all-star band of Barry Sless (lead guitar), Pete Sears (bass), Jason Crosby (keys), and John Molo (drums) accompany McNamee’s rhythm guitar.

The T Sisters | BottleRock Napa Valley

The T Sisters opened this set with their catchy “Woo Woo.” Lester Chambers always wows the crowd with his own hits (with his brothers) “People Get Ready” and “Time Has Come Today.” Sless and Crosby are among the finest soloists in jambandlandia. Always a fun time with Moonalice!

Celisse | Napa, CA

Celisse was shredding some incredible guitar riffs when I stumbled near her stage. Damn, wish I’d seen that whole thing! She said she was thrilled to finally be able to play a festival stage like this after working so many years to get noticed.

Chris Vos | The Record Company | Napa, CA

The Record Company | BottleRock Napa Valley

The Record Company has a big-little fan base who appreciates their solid, blues-based rock. Hailing from LA, Chris Vos (guitar, lead vocals), Alex Stiff (bass, backing vocals), and Marc Cazorla (drums, backing vocals) know how to fire up the energy and keep it burning.

The Alive | Napa, CA

The Alive | BottleRock Napa Valley

The Alive | BottleRock Napa Valley

Young NorCal performers The Alive have played BottleRock before, opening the main stage a few years ago. They’re still teens, but they’ve got old souls infused with Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin – and gosh, do you think they’ve ever heard Nirvana?!

Holly Humberstone | BottleRock Napa Valley

Holly Humberstone brought some light Britpop to BottleRock. Her singer-songwriter vibe has a touch of T-Swift, that mix of country roots with pop sensibilities.

Silent Disco at BottleRock Napa Valley

Silent Disco is always as fun to watch as it is to join.

See you next year in Napa!

And … that’s a wrap for BottleRock 2024.