Imagine Dragons delivered a fan-pleasing performance at BottleRock — even if it was a little bittersweet, as they reprised their tribute to the late Ben E. King by singing “Stand By Me,” which they first debuted at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards.
BottleRock 2015: Photos From the Festival!
Meanwhile, Cage the Elephant and Foster the People played back-to-back on the main stage, and they offered up very different shows and very different frontmen. While Cage lead singer Matthew Shultz chatted with the crowd between every song (“I’ve heard that when you’re a parent, you’re not supposed to pick a favorite child — I’m kind of like that with audiences, but today I’ve chosen a favorite side,” he quipped) and even sloppily launched himself on top of the audience more than once. Meanwhile, Mark Foster only spoke once or twice and just sang the songs as you know them — which is to say, he sang them perfectly while his band didn’t miss a note. Both sets had their merits, but it was easier to notice the entertainment value of Cage’s set and the perfectionism of Foster’s set seeing them side-by-side.
Here’s what else you missed on day one of the festival in Napa Valley:
The band literally lights up the stage with intense effects. In addition to “Stand By Me,” the group covers Alphaville‘s “Forever Young” and trots out their mega hits, including “It’s Time,” “Demons,” “Radioactive,” and ” I Bet My Life.”
Dragons lead singer Dan Reynolds credits his state of mind to his child. “There are days I feel like I’d like to be home with my 2-year-old daughter,” he says, but admitted that she taught him how to feel. “This is everything tonight.”
And when it comes being healthy when they are on tour, bassist Ben McKee explains: “We have the most health conscious rider,” as he showed of his cooking skills on the culinary stage.
To introduce his song “Stay Human,” Franti asks the crowd, to roaring cheers: “Do we have any freaky people here tonight?”
From the side of the stage, dozens of beach balls are released into the crowd and continue to bounce around for the remainder of the show.
“America is a beautiful idea,” Franti says, sitting in the crowd with his guitar. “It’s not just a country; it’s a belief system.”
Franti borrows a fan’s selfie stick and proceeds to shoot an epic minute-long video of himself and the crowd.
A close-up on the big screen reveals what we should have known all along: Franti is wearing no shoes.
Franti spends a lot of time in the crowd during his BottleRock set, but his longest trek lasts about 10 minutes. He ventures well past the midway point of the crowd, and the big-screen cameras even lose him for a while, settling for crowd and band shots instead. While in the crowd, he puts a fan’s Golden State Warriors on his head, to rabid applause, then takes a San Francisco Giants hat and puts it on top of that. He’s nothing if not a crowd-pleaser.
Flavor Flav likes to go against the grain. Every member of Public Enemy wore at least one piece of camouflage — save for Flavor, who donned a full Alan Anderson Brooklyn Nets uniform.
Oh and if you were wondering who the group is cheering for the in the upcoming NBA finals, it’s the Warriors. Or at least that’s what they said at the festival, located a short distance from Oakland. And a long distance from Cleveland.
When Los Lobos — best known for their 1987 No. 1 hit remake of “La Bamba” for the movie of the same name — decided to go full Español with “Chuco’s Cumbia” after a string of English-language songs, they had the entire crowd bailando.
They introduced another Ritchie Valens cover — “Come On, Let’s Go,” also from the La Bamba soundtrack — by joking, “This is for the youngsters out there.”
The Tejano rockers paid tribute to late blues legend B.B. King, who died on May 14, by playing their uncharacteristically bluesy song “Someday.”
Foster the People’s set contained such little between-song banter that it was startling when Mark Foster all of a sudden introduced “Fire Escape” by saying: “I wrote this song about fire safety.”
The crowd expected Foster the People to end the set with their biggest hit — “Pumped Up Kicks,” which topped the Alternative Songs chart back in 2011 and peaked at No. 3 on the Hot 100 — but instead they went with the more upbeat (and equally whistle-y) “Don’t Stop.”
Flavor Flav on the Culinary Stage
Just last week, Public Enemy’s Flavor Flav was arrested in Las Vegas on six charges, including DUI and marijuana possession, so it wasn’t guaranteed that he would make it to BottleRock. Not only did he get there, but when we arrived to his 5:30 p.m. Culinary Stage appearance with Top Chef alum Michael Voltaggio, he had already gotten started around 5:22.
As Flav made his famous fried chicken (he once owned a string of fried-chicken restaurants), the floor was opened to questions. One fan who’s clearly still mourning the loss of VH1’s Flavor of Love asked for a kiss, and Flav obliged.
“Let’s start a party and stuff,” Cage frontman Matthew Shultz told the crowd, before sticking to his word by doing his best Mick Jagger strut all over the stage and ending the set with a shirtless crowd-surfing session. “Sometimes we have to put away our cell phones,” he told the crowd as he floated across their hands. “Life doesn’t happen in a little square box.”
The Australian singer/songwriter transported the BottleRock crowd back to the ’90s, with her Hole-meets-Sheryl Crowe songs. She was the first artist of the day to attempt a smoke machine, but there’s something about smoke floating through 2 p.m. daylight that just doesn’t work. “This is our last song,” she reluctantly said at the end of her set. “I was trying to drag it out…”
The singer announces her new album will be out on Tuesday, before launching into “Ace of Hearts” during her vocally stunning set.
“Thanks for having me, this is beautiful,” Zella screams to the crowd. “How about a a round of applause for beautiful Mother Nature, for letting us be here.”
The seven-member group stops by the press tent, answering questions to a lackluster room full of journalists. Fun fact: Most of the band went to school together at some point in their lives. Later on, they impress on the second biggest stage at the fest.