11 great under-the-radar acts at BottleRock

BottleRock, BottleRock Napa, BottleRock Napa Valley

Courtesy: BottleRock Napa Valley

How do you follow a line-up headlined by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stevie Wonder and Florence and the Machine? If you’re the producers of BottleRock Napa Valley, you fill the void with Tom Petty and Foo Fighters, top it off with big names like Maroon 5Macklemore, Modest Mouse and The Roots, bring back Warren G and House of Pain, and then pepper the rest of the lineup with heaps of up-and-coming artists ready for the spotlight.

BottleRock Napa Valley
11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.,
May 26, 27, 28
Napa Expo

Even though the festival boasts some impressive names, the undercard is also filled with dozens of other artists who deserve your attention. For those who don’t know where to spend the first half of each day at BottleRock, RIFF has compiled a list of some of the most interesting acts possibly hidden in the fine print.


1. SWMRS — Sunday, 2:30 to 3:15 p.m. — Samsung Stage

Do you still like pop-punk in 2017, but miss the days of The Undertones, Screeching Weasel, Green Day, The Exploding Hearts or even Joyce Manor before they minimized their most interesting influences? SWMRS defends pop-punk with its simple yet effective blend of catchy choruses, dynamic songwriting and sharp guitar playing.


2. Pell – Saturday, 1:50 to 2:30 p.m. — Miner Family Winery Stage

Pell combines the easily identifiable and iconic Southern hip-hop sound along with modern trap production and flow with his own unique twist. A common criticism of both trap and Southern hip-hop is that it’s too simple, but Pell’s compositions are a plethora of production details strung together naturally.

3. Warren G — Friday, 8:45 to 9:45 p.m. – Lagunitas Stage

Often overshadowed by his stepbrother Dr. Dre, Warren G has also been a pioneer of the g-funk. Come regulate and see a living legend who influenced the hip-hop we listen to today.


4. Day Wave — Friday, 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. — Lagunitas Stage

Day Wave combine a dreamy production style with an alternative poppy songwriting structure, all wrapped in synths and jangly guitars. The end result is a diverse mix of influences that blend smoothly into one cohesive sound.


5. The Devil Makes Three — Saturday, 3:45 to 4:45 p.m. — Samsung Stage

Ever since the band’s 2002 self-titled debut, The Devil Makes Three has been garnering a cult following by staying close to the roots of country, but also by combining a lot of different, yet similar, sounds. The modern sound of alt-country is just as prominent as the old-time, bluegrass and ragtime.


6. AlunaGeorge — Saturday, 7 to 8 p.m. — Miner Family Winery Stage

AlunaGeorge is the duo of singer Aluna Francis and programmer George Reid. At first, AlunaGeorge may come off as generic electropop with contemporary R&B-styled vocals, but the production often fuses off-kilter techniques such as glitch pop, future garage and U.K. bass.


7. The Staves — Friday, 4:30 to 5:15 p.m. — Miner Family Stage

The Staves are a folk group who are just as influenced by their contemporaries as they are with current indie folk. They manage to capture a certain catchiness while using English folk music and close harmony.


8. The Naked and Famous — Sunday, 6:45 to 8 p.m. — Samsung Stage

Though best-known for one song, The Naked and Famous have an incredibly consistent discography that constantly evolves. Whether it’s melody-driven alternative-dance or more ethereal and atmospheric dream pop, the band’s songbook will draw you in long before “Young Blood.”


9. Con Brio — Sunday, 5:45 to 6:45 p.m. — Miner Family Winery Stage

Compared to everyone from Sly and the Family Stone to Prince to James Brown, this local funk band is sure to make you dance. “Not necessarily that we’re a cheap party band that’s just trying to get everybody laid,” guitarist Benjamin Andrews told RIFF earlier this year. “Well, I do want everybody to get laid—but there’s a general sense of positivity and a communal vibe that we try to spread around.”


10. HIRIE — Sunday, 2:05 to 2:55 p.m. — Miner Family Winery Stage

Born in the Philippines (her father worked at the United Nations), and raised in Hawaii, Hirie writes reggae songs with a ska tinge, not unlike Gwen Stefani. She and her band, also called HIRIE are one of the earlier acts on Sunday and a reason to roll out of bed on the festival’s final day.

While in Hawaii, Hirie fell in love with reggae music, and took to the culture naturally. On the radio, and in conversation, she would hear the exclamation “irie.” The popular reggae term is derived from a Jamaican patois, and it encompasses warmth and positivity—it’s a greeting, an affectionate term of approval, and a mindset. In these painfully complex times, we could all use some irie in our lives.


11. Judah & the Lion — Sunday, 2 to 2:45 p.m. — JaM Cellars Stage

Besides having that one song on the radio where they play a banjo after singing about playing a song with banjo (“Take It All Back”), this genre-bending Americana band throws in some hip-hop percussion, poppy synths, twang and everything in between. Their second album is actually titled Folk Hop N Roll. But if you want to dance, sing or sway, you now know where to be on Sunday at 2 p.m.

— Michael Massaro and Roman Gokhman


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