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Kali Uchis vs Pearl Jam

Who won BottleRock 2024? It's complicated

BottleRock 2024 was my third visit to the music festival in Napa. The first year in 2017, my partner and I heard Charles Bradley sing, which brought us to tears. The second year in 2021, we saw Jon Batiste play a charismatic set, which the crowd reflected back. Six months later, he won Album of the Year at the Grammys. So my third year had a lot to live up to and it did times 2 with the main headliners on Saturday, Kali Uchis and Pearl Jam. But the two had the same set times.

I had never been this conflicted with overlapping sets at a festival. I had seen Kali Uchis 5 times already, but Pearl Jam never. Plus, Pearl Jam was my second favorite band in high school (Smashing Pumpkins), but Kali was my first fav in 2018. And her new album, Orquídeas, is my favorite album of the year by far so far. I was so conflicted I did an Instagram poll (40% Kali, 60% Pearl Jam), which of course made me more conflicted. So I decided to go to both.

Pearl Jam started first at 7:45. That gave me about 30 minutes with them before I had to head to Kali Uchis for her 8:30 set. The funnest part of most festivals is swerving through the crowd dancing in moments with others along the way. Most of us don’t do it enough. I ended up leaving Kali Uchis after “Loner” and caught Pearl Jam close that night with an even better stroll through the crowds right before.

I love to compare and contrast everything, especially when others don’t. Pearl Jam topped Kali Uchis this time live, but they had twenty years of anticipation from me. However, of the 5 other shows I had previously seen of Kali, Pearl Jam’s set didn’t top a single one. I distinctly remember the first show I saw of hers in 2017. I had never heard such a majority of the crowd sing back every lyric to her. I’m sure Pearl Jam had a similar reaction a few years after they started playing, but I couldn’t witness because I was 8.

If that wasn’t controversial enough, Kali Uchis has a better catalog than Pearl Jam and she isn’t close to past her prime. Here are a few of my favorites from her.

Kali Uchis at The New Parish in Oakland, 2017
BottleRock on The Bob Lefsetz Podcast

Dave Graham, Justin Dragoo, and Jason Scoggins-the people who run BottleRock-talk all about the business, logistics, and heart they put into the festival since they took it over after the first year. I very much appreciate their candidness.