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Start of Something Big

BottleRock descends upon the tiny town of Napa



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It certainly has locals talking, too. Because 35,000 people is nearly half the population of the city—and because there's only a handful of roads in and out of town and fairgrounds parking is scarce to nonexistent—some critics of the festival suggest the possibility for disaster.

"People talk about all these logistical issues and everything," says Vogt, "and I keep coming back to the basic point that it's as great a lineup as anyone has seen, I think, in a long time. People will figure out how to park and get here when there's great music."

Meyers likes to say that the idea for the festival came to him when he was in utero at Altamont—he was born in August 1970—and, in fact, he and Vogt thought about using Altamont's original location, Sears Point Raceway (now Sonoma Raceway) for BottleRock. Vogt and Meyers also bandied around the idea of a South-by-Southwest–type setup, with concerts at multiple venues around town nightly. But after talks with other promoters, it was decided that the Napa Valley Expo had the type of infrastructure perfect for a festival—power, toilets, buildings, big open fields. And, Vogt notes, the Napa Valley itself provided an alluring reason for a lot of bands to say yes.

FUNNY GIRL BottleRock also features 16 comedians, including Kristen Schaal (pictured), Tig Notaro, Rob Delaney, Jim Gaffigan and others.
  • FUNNY GIRL BottleRock also features 16 comedians, including Kristen Schaal (pictured), Tig Notaro, Rob Delaney, Jim Gaffigan and others.

"We just thought it would be a historic opportunity for the Napa Valley to come together," says Vogt, "to kick off something of this size, and of this transformational sort of nature."

The festival is transformational for Napa from an economic standpoint, as well. Hotel rooms normally going for $329 are going for $799, Meyers says, and "if we average 30,000 people a day, I'm sure there'll be a calculation coming in around $30 million of economic impact."

Today, while the large wooden guitars made by Napa artist Richard Von Saal are going in at the Expo, and while around the corner, artists Tim Kopra and Paul Slack construct a triangular sculpture for the VIP area, Vogt says he's thinking only of preparations for executing everything properly. But Meyers allows a little bit of wistful nostalgia for when the last bands load out and BottleRock is over.

"It is really, really gratifying that so many friends and family have participated. So knowing me, I'll feel a little bit like summer vacation's over, 'cause everybody's gonna disappear," he says.

Don't rule out a 2014 BottleRock, however.

"We'll get back together," Meyers promises. "We're planning for next year, definitely."

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