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Bottle Rocking

Breaking down the big fest, day by day

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LED WHO? Robert Plant will show the kids a thing or two at this year's BottleRock.
  • LED WHO? Robert Plant will show the kids a thing or two at this year's BottleRock.

It's still two weeks out, and this year's BottleRock festival is nearly sold-out. The excitement over massive headliners like Robert Plant and No Doubt has propelled sales, and three-day passes are already gone.

That means procrastinators have some major decisions to make, like which day to go? Here's a guide to who is performing when and why you should see them.

Friday is typically the least crowded of the three-day fest, mostly because some of us working stiffs are still stuck at the office. If you can make the escape, this year's first day is perfect for indie rock fans, featuring headliner Imagine Dragons, who have been topping charts with a mix of emotional rock and electro back beats since their debut single, "Radioactive," went big in late 2012.

Highlighting Forestville native Ben McKee on bass, the Las Vegas–based group caps off a day of music that also features acts like Cage the Elephant, Vacationer and Foster the People. It's a refreshing core of bands at the height of their powers.

On the other end of the spectrum, Friday's big draw has to be hip-hop legends Public Enemy, and appearances by artists like Pion 2 Zion, Aer and Daniel Bambaata Marley ensure that positive vibes flow throughout the day.

Saturday brings out a mix of old and new acts, with legendary Led Zep frontman Robert Plant performing a set that expounds on his eclectic musical travels. Other acts on Saturday include singer Scott Weiland (formerly of Stone Temple Pilots) with his band the Wildabouts, and New Orleans ensemble the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Alternately, the second day includes a gaggle of up-and-comers, like Arkansas pop group Knox Hamilton, 23-year-old San Francisco multi-instrumentalist Doe Eye and Los Angeles indie band Black English. Saturday's not-to-be-missed set is the Avett Brothers, the beloved family folk band with heartfelt and harmonic melodies that will make you dance and may make you cry.

Sunday is no slouch. It's probably safe to say that No Doubt is the most anticipated act all weekend for anyone who grew up in the '90s, but coming close is Snoop Dogg, another '90s icon, who recently released a new album, Bush.

Otherwise, Sunday is all over the map, from platinum-selling techno outfit Awolnation to Minnesota folk rockers Trampled by Turtles. Sunday's best bet might just be Austin-based songwriter Emily Wolfe, who is rapidly ascending the ranks after an acclaimed appearance at the South by Southwest music fest last spring.

BottleRock Napa Valley music festival takes place Friday, May 29, to Sunday, May 31, at the Napa Valley Exposition, 575 Third St., Napa. $129 and up. bottlerocknapavalley.com.

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