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BottleRock or Hipnic? Music Fests Face Off

They may be in opposite directions, but they’re not so different.


BottleRock Napa Valley, Northern California’s burgeoning monster music festival, kicks off its fifth go-round this month (May 26–28) with another lineup chock-full of headliners. And while it continues to cement its status as the 90-point bottle of local music fests, it isn’t the only offering on the menu for May. Hipnic, the FolkYeah!-produced Big Sur campout co-curated by San Francisco rockers the Mother Hips, caters to those with a taste for something a little earthier (May 19–21). But beyond the differing sizes and aesthetics, the two festivals share some characteristics. 

BottleRock vs. Hipnic

Whereas BottleRock features Tom Petty, Hipnic has Chuck Prophet. The San Francisco–based guitarist trades in the same Americana-tinged rock that Petty has made famous—and the two even have a similar nasal sound.

Whereas BottleRock features Modest Mouse, Hipnic has Jonathan Richman. The former Modern Lovers frontman, while more down-tempo, shares an indie rock quirkiness, subtle melancholy, and lyrical dexterity with Isaac Brock.

Whereas BottleRock features Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, Hipnic has Salinas-raised blues guitarist Jackie Greene. Although Greene worships at the altar of Nashville (while Harper’s influences range from southern gospel to Jamaican rocksteady), he imbues his sound with the same sense of soul that’s made Harper a dorm-room god for some 20-odd years.

Whereas BottleRock features Band of Horses, Hipnic has Little Wings. Kyle Field’s beach-folk outfit has a passionate, if underground, following—one that fans of Band of Horses’ melodic, cruising-down-the-PCH sound would probably fit right in with.

Whereas BottleRock features Silversun Pickups, Hipnic has Vetiver, the San Francisco–based freak-folk group that, like Silversun, has an affinity for catchy, almost gentle-sounding earworms.


Originally published in the May issue of San Francisco 

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