Mostly clear

Crowds growing at BottleRock

  • The packed crowd cheers as Alabama Shakes performs on the Willpower Stage during Bottlerock 2013 held in Napa, Friday, May 10, 2013.

As fans poured in for Day 2 of the inaugural BottleRock Napa Valley music festival at the Napa Expo, everybody had their top picks.

Irma Long, 50, drove down from Chico to see Alabama Shakes. "That woman singer (Brittany Howard) rocks — in a genre usually dominated by males."

Catonya Johnson, 23, came up from Oakland to work the festival as a guard for Landmark Security, but she was making sure she would be positioned in "the right place to see the Black Keys."

BottleRock Napa: Day 3


Brothers Lorenzo and Jon Koidis flew in from Toronto to see The Flaming Lips.

And many fans were still talking about the shows from the day before: "The band that surprised us the most was the Black Crowes," said Shawna White, 24, who drove down from Mendocino with her friend Natalie Harpe, 21. "We'd heard of them, but we really had no idea. I think I'm in love with (singer) Chris Robinson."

Inman Family Winery owner Kathleen Inman's top picks for Thursday were Delta Spirit and The Violent Femmes. "At the Violent Femmes, I was pogo-ing like I was 18 again."

The biggest difference between Day 1 and Day 2, aside from more high-profile bands like the Black Keys, was a massive crowd that mushroomed from around 10,000 on Thursday to more than 30,000 on Friday, BottleRock talent buyer Sheila Groves-Tracey said.

Occasionally the sound bled from stage to stage. Early in his set on the Miner Family Winery stage, Justin Townes Earle paused between songs to cock his head and listen to the Dirty Projectors on the nearby Citi stage. "Hey, they're loud — I guess we'll battle."

It was an unfortunate mismatch — Earle's low-key poetic vocals versus the cinematic shimmering guitar and harmonies of the Dirty Projectors.

As crowds began to swell in the late afternoon, two of biggest draws of the day were Alabama Shakes and The Shins. Fronting Alabama Shakes, Brittany Howard's old-soul raspy vocals wavered effortlessly between guttural and soothing. And after kicking it off with "Rifle's Spiral," the Shins' singer James Mercer looked out on the packed grassy field and kept it simple: "Damn, it's beautiful."

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