BottleRock Napa, Metallica prove to a great pairing

Fans went more than 27 months between BottleRock Napa Valley festivals.

When they finally returned to the festival site in September it was for the first time since May 2019. For many music lovers, it felt even longer than that as the pandemic-fueled pause in live performances and large gatherings just stretched on and on.

Fortunately, fans didn’t have to wait long at all for the 2022 edition, which was moved back to its regular Memorial Day weekend spot and thus came just a little over eight months after the 2021 event.

To say that fans like that shorter wait better is a vast understatement. Judging by the number of happy faces, sunny singalongs and fist bumps/hugs witnessed on Day One (Friday, May 27) of the sold-out three-day festival, these fans absolutely adored being back at the Napa Valley Expo site so soon.

The only thing that seemed to outnumber the smiling faces was the huge amount of black Metallica T-shirts in the crowd.

Yes, the best-selling Bay Area band of all time was the biggest selling point of Day One. Yet, there were plenty of other good reasons for turning out as well, including Scottish synth-pop act Chvrches, South Carolina country-blues-soul rocker Marcus King, Oakland blues-R&B talent Fantastic Negrito, Norwegian DJ-producer Kygo and Los Angeles hard-rock band Dorothy.

NAPA, CALIFORNIA – May 27 – Fantastic Negrito performs on the JaM Cellars Stage during the first day of the BottleRock Napa Valley Music Festival. (Chris Riley/Times-Herald)

Day One was definitely our pick for the most enticing day of the festival, largely because it marked Metallica’s debut at the festival but also because we’ve really been wanting to see Dorothy, King and Japanese psychedelic-rock act Kikagaku Moyo. We also liked how the Day One bill skewed a bit more to hard rock, with Greta Van Fleet, the Alive and Bastardane further adding to the headbanging mix.

Yet, we can also understand how some people would prefer Day 2 with Twenty One Pilots and Mount Westmore — featuring hip-hop legends Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, E-40 and Too $hort — topping the bill.

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