Wente Vineyards in Livermore doesn’t just do wine well. The winery proved this weekend they know a thing or two about how to throw a music festival. Their "Estate Tasting Room" venue played the perfect host to “Bottle RockIt.” The intimate, day-long festival featured more than 20 bands on 3 different stages and the vast majority are bay area born and bred. The intimate setting gave fans the chance to bust a move with the musicians who they just saw on stage.
While many might think of beer or hard liquor as the beverage of choice for true rockers, fifth generation wine maker Karl Wente says there’s a lot wine and music have in common.
“Wine adds to and enhances music,” Wente said. “Structural, temporal aspects, flavors, harmonies, notes, aromas… the different tastes and styles. It just makes sense to enjoy the two together.”
Wente performed with a band that came from weekly jam sessions he’d have on his front porch.
The passion appropriately named Front Porch has for music is clear along with Wente’s influences in Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, the Avett Brothers and even Zepplin. The whole band really shined when Suzanna Spring sung a rendition of Sheryl Crow’s “Strong Enough." Her voice along with an upbeat electric violin really got the crowd going. Their website reads “good food, good wine, good people, good music” and that’s exactly the vibe they give off.
Dirty Vegas lead singer Steve Smith says Bottle RockIt reminded him of street fairs in Europe. The group who skyrockted to fame in the early '00's with "Days Gone By" helped headline the festival. He says things have changes alot in the world of electronic music since he opened for Moby a decade ago.
"Finally, electronic music has made such an arrival, such a statement, it can't be pushed away," said Smith after his hour long set. He says digital downloads have made a huge difference. Fans at a recent show in Monterey, Mexico knew every word to the new song "Little White Doves" before they could lay their hands on the cd.
"You still need radio, but now you can show up in a country and everyone knows the words before it's even played over the air," says Smith.
South Bay Bands Young Science & Picture Atlantic put on high energy sets. Young Science just looks like they’re having fun.
They played in the Subsonic room, which had a club-vibe. On a sunny afternoon, It felt awkward to walk into the room which was pitch black except for some funky strobe lights reflecting off man-made fog and the hundreds of wine barrels lining the room. Young Science quickly set the scene by making everyone want to dance.
Picture Atlantic will mess with your mind. They look really young- like the former Santa Clara High school students should be getting their homework done. However, my jaw dropped once they got going. They have a mature, layered sound.
It's primarily rock but with unique vocals. Lead singer Nik Bartunek makes some pretty silly faces and movements when he sings, but you can tell he takes his sound seriously with "Invest in Quality Music" scrawled across his guitar.
San Francisco also has a strong showing. City transplant, AB & the Sea is a like a modern day beach boys. Their song "In the Sunshine" is enough to make anyone want to run out to the beach. During "Baby You," they actually invited people to mashed potato.
The Hundred Days also really brought something to the stage. It may just be the skinny ties, but they've got a "Killers" vibe. It's a very polished, almost british rock. Their videos online don't do them justice. They put on an excellent live show.
Doin' it Well: Get in on Bottle Rockit next year. a $20 ticket is like a backstage pass. I can't tell you how many times I was watching one band rocking out on stage only to see members of another getting their dance on in the audience.
Food and drinks were also reasonable... You'll easily be tempted to buy an entire bottle of wine instead of just the glass. Water and soda were cheap too.
There is no public transit option, so make sure to designate a driver ahead of time, but parking is convenient and free. I predict big things for this show. The musicians had nothing but positive things to say about the staff and organizers, which means they'll attract more big names.
P.S. Two words. Wine Slushies...