Concert Review: Bottlerock Festival, Napa CA

If you’ve been reading my stuff for a while, you may have noticed the vast majority of concert reviews come from nightclubs and theaters, not arenas and coliseum events.  I’ll make exceptions occasionally, but big events are really not my thing. However, today was one of those exceptions and we traveled north to Napa for Day 2 of the annual Bottle Rock Festival. The festival is a 3 day affair – if you’re a glutton for punishment and have a LOT of extra dough lying around you can make a long weekend of it and watch an absurd amount of bands play.

Sensory overload is the best way to describe the day. There were SO. MANY. PEOPLE. It was rather overwhelming. That being said, we did see a lot of good musicians ply their trade, and though it was crowded as anything I’ve ever witnessed, the patrons and staff were pretty well behaved. Lines moved quickly, no scuffles broke out (that we witnessed, anyway) and all in all it was a really fun day.

East Forest was the first act we caught. Very electro. Spacey, background music is how I’d describe it. Not exactly suited for a live show, especially outdoors, at noon no less. But hey, it was background music for us while we got ourselves oriented to the venue and figured out where we needed to be and when.

Paris Jackson was not someone we planned to watch, but we happened upon her set while we were getting some food and libations, and I was SHOCKED by how good she was. I expected the daughter of the “King of Pop”, would be nothing but fluff, but to my surprise she and her band were rocking, with Paris herself digging in on guitar as well as vocals. It was a pleasant surprise and I’ll definitely be looking into her discography.

Lupe Fiasco was the next set we saw. He was high energy and had a great vibe. He was funny, and had a lot of audience interaction, and he really poured it out for us, delivering a great set to an enthusiastic croud. It was a groovy good time, for sure. Would recommend his show if you have the opportunity.

Lupe Fiasco

Next in the agenda was Dogstar, the whole reason we went to this festival. Yes, Im highly biased. Regular readers may recall that the the guitarist/vocalist of Dogstar, Bret Domrose, is my best friend going back decades. I was the drummer in his first several bands and we cut our teeth together on the Bay Area club circuit back in the 80’s and 90’s before his career took off. This was the first-time Dogstar played to a big audience is a VERY long time, and you could tell they were having a good time with it. The crowd reaction was solid, but a little slow to respond at first. By the mid point of the set they had really picked up steam and finished really strong. It was a great set and I couldn’t be happier for those guys, hitting it again after a decade’s long hiatus.

Bret Domrose
Some other guy on bass… Looks familiar.

Cautious Clay was the next artist we checked out. I didn’t know but one song from him prior to today, but he have us an impressive set too. His band was slamming, and he himself busted out the sax and guitar (a LEFTY no less!) which I had no idea he played. He definitely earned my respect with his performance today!

Cautious Clay

Tove Lo was the last act for us for the day. She was playful and sexy and obviously having a great time. Her band was solid and the performance was strong, but it was also very “programmed”, using backing tracks and loops and whatnot, that kinda takes away from the magic of live music. But I’ll give her props for her set. She’s clearly a professional and the set was flawless, if not electric with the musicians stepping out and adding some spice to the original compositions. I don’t think I’d go out of my way to see her again, but I wouldn’t be purposely late if she was opening for another show I was going to either.

Tove Lo

The main headlining acts were Duran Duran and Lizzo, both playing different stages with overlapping times. The four of us were going to split up to see our preferred artists, but in the end we were all kinda wiped out after Tove Lo, and we decided to call it a day and head home.

All in all it was a great day. Expensive as all get out, but still a great day. Beautiful weather, great food and drink, fantastic music from a wide variety of artists. Who could ask for more on a May Saturday?

Thanks for stopping by!

Road Trip!/Concert Review: Dogstar at Gold Diggers, Los Angeles.

Tonight was a rare and once in a lifetime event. We were cordially invited to the “record release party” celebrating Dogstar’s new – yet to be named – album.

Dogstar, back in action!

Full Disclosure: Bret Domrose, the guitarist and vocalist for Dogstar is my best friend. He and I came up together, learning the ropes of playing live shows, song writing and being serious, professional musicians. In fact, the very first band Bret was ever in – The Laters, circa 1984 – had me as the drummer. He and I went on to form several bands afterwards, culminating in a record deal with an indie label that went bankrupt just prior to our record’s release, and from there our lives took very divergent paths.

Bret, doin’ his thing!

There is a good chance if you’ve heard of Dogstar at all, it’s because of their infinitely famous bassist, Keanu Reeves. It is true that they got a lot of breaks that most bands wouldn’t have received if it weren’t for Keanu, but bottom line, Dogstar is a great band with a lot of really fantastic songs.

Tonight they played their first live show in DECADES, playing their recently recorded album, in its entirety. And let me tell you, it’s going to be a great album if this gig was any indication!

There is evident growth in the songwriting, and Bret’s guitar work has never been better. Keanu is a solid bassist and really held things down with his playing. Drummer Rob did something I’ve never, and I do mean NEVER seen, playing a harmonica solo while playing drums!

It was a great set, the band was in good spirits, the sound was great, the energy high and the crowd was all smiles!

It was an awesome night. We were able to see a bunch of old friends that we haven’t seen in ages and I was able to introduce our daughter to Keanu finally after hearing about him practically her entire life. (When she was only 2 years old, I went on tour with Dogstar so she’s heard the stories about my times with Keanu and Uncle Bret many times over the years!)

Our kid in the foreground, Mr. Reeves in the background…

It was so good to see Bret on stage again, and I’m really proud of the work he’s put in and the really stellar songs that came out of the project. He’s an extremely talented guy and I feel lucky to call him a friend.

The Boring Old Man and Bret Domrose.

Thanks for a great night guys. I can’t wait to get my hands on the new record!

Thanks for stopping by!


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