BottleRock photos and recap: Tom Petty and 5 other acts we loved on Saturday
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers perform at BottleRock Napa Valley in Napa on May 28, 2017.
NAPA — Tom Petty may have largely stuck to the hits at BottleRock Napa Valley Saturday, but the sheer quantity of those familiar songs spoke volumes about Petty’s amazing songbook.
After opening with the first cut off Petty’s self-titled debut album with the Heartbreakers, “”Rockin’ Around (With You),” He kicked into a stretch of classics: “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” “You Don’t Know How It Feels,” “You Got Lucky,” “I Won’t Back Down,” “Free Fallin’,” “Walls (Circus),” “Don’t Come Around Here No More” and “It’s Good to be King.” The stretch of cannon material was interrupted only by “Forgotten Man,” a track off Petty’s newest album, 2014’s Hypnotic Eye.
The middle of Petty’s two-hour-long set featured a run of songs from Petty’s 1994 solo album Wildflowers, including the title track, which struck a chord among fans and prompted a singalong, and “Learning to Fly.” The band performed the latter as a beautiful, stripped-down piano ballad, with the audience holding down the chorus. The latter end of the set included even more hits like “Yer So Bad,” from 1989’s Full Moon Fever, “Refugee” from 1980’s Damn the Torpedoes, “Runnin’ Down A Dream,” and “American Girl.”
Playing beneath a matrix of glove-shaped LED blues that were suspended from cables and shifted around to create different shapes and even a rolling wave, Petty kept the hits coming for the entirety of his set.
City of the Sun — This New York instrumental trio, which got its start by busking in the subway, gets lumped into the post-rock genre, but on Saturday, they showed that comparisons to Explosions in the Sky are incorrect. The band blended in jazz Latin influence for something wholly different and hypnotic, which made us forget the songs had no lyrics.
Judah and the Lion — Here’s another band with unjustified comparisons. Just because the Nashville band, known for break-out single “Take It All Back,” has a banjo player, it doesn’t make it another Mumford and Sons. If anything, compare Judah and the Lion to the Beastie Boys. Frontman Judah Akers played the part of Tasmanian Devil, spinning, running around, interacting with the first few rows of fans and running down the aisle splitting the main stage floor. But his bandmates, Brian Macdonald, Nate Zuercher and Spencer Cross, didn’t let him have all the fun. On one song, the four broke out into an in-line rump-shaking dance routine set to a hip hop beat and AutoTuned vocals. On another, all four pulled their shirts over their heads, revealing a lot of pasty skin, and kept on performing. But their performance was not just a fun show. It was a technically skilled musical demonstration.
Prinze George — If Stevie Nicks led the xx, you’d get the same sound dynamic as this Maryland trio. Singer Naomi Almquist was all cool, with effortless delivery, while drummer Isabelle De Leon provided a firm structure and guitarist-producer Kenny Grimm the texture. The two women wore white hospital-like gowns, smiled wide and danced like they had just broken out of an asylum.
Mavis Staples — OK, so we only saw the R&B, blues and Motown icon perform just three songs. But they were three terrific songs. Her set was delayed by more than 20 minutes, cutting its length. But Staples was undeterred. Her buttery voice was so rich on this night that it could have been cut by a knife.
AlunaGeorge — Singer Aluna Frances turned the Miner Family Winery Stage into her personal dance club. She twirled across the stage, her long braids trailing behind. Songs blended from one into another. Many in the crowd joined along.