NAPA -- Call it a comeback.
BottleRock Napa Valley, the multiday festival that ran into massive financial woes after its debut last year, appears to be rebounding nicely under new management.
The second annual BottleRock opened Friday, drawing some 20,000 fans to see a lineup that included The Cure, TV on the Radio, Sublime With Rome and Railroad Earth. An even bigger crowd, possibly exceeding 30,000, was expected to show up on Saturday to see the heralded reunion of hip-hop duo Outkast and other acts like Heart, Weezer and Third Eye Blind.
The sophomore swing concludes Sunday, with a bill highlighted by country music superstar Eric Church and hip-hop icon LL Cool J.
Overall, more than 60 acts were scheduled to perform on four stages over the weekend at the 26-acre Napa Valley Expo center.
Fans seemed thrilled to be back at BottleRock on Friday, enjoying the mild, sunny weather, noshing on a wide variety of culinary offerings and soaking up some 10 hours of live music. And while it's impossible to judge the financial status of the event after its first day, Friday served up what appeared to be a convincing reboot to BottleRock Napa, which many assumed wouldn't return in 2014.
The inaugural affair was a hit with fans, but it also racked up nearly $10 million in debt. The original organizers, BR Festivals, eventually filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. As the drama played out, BottleRock's future was in doubt. Then Napa Valley-based Latitude 38 Entertainment took over BottleRock, injecting new life -- and funds -- into the endeavor.
The new organizers only just grabbed the reins in late January, which left them comparatively little time to plan and mount an event of this magnitude. Most notably, they were well behind the curve in trying to book the lineup.
The bill ended up being top-heavy, with the three daily headliners (The Cure, Outkast and Church) overshadowing the rest of the acts. Yet there were plenty of lesser-known treats on the undercard, including the folk-rock outfits Delta Rae and Miner, both of which performed on Friday.
Day One started off slowly, as fans trickled in throughout the day. The mood was mellow and the concession lines -- representing dozens of restaurants and wineries -- were manageable. Late arrivals could easily stroll up near the front of nearly any of the stages, making for a fan-friendly day of music.
Of course, some of The Cure's more dedicated fans arrived before the gates opened at noon, looking to get a prime spot at the main stage, even though the band's set wouldn't start until 7:30 p.m. Vocalist Robert Smith and crew rewarded their followers for their patience, delivering a 2½-hour show filled with Cure classics.
The legendary British modern-rock troupe -- which released its debut studio record, "Three Imaginary Boys," 35 years ago -- was hauntingly powerful. It delivered one moody, mesmerizing stadium anthem after another. The Cure faithful cherished the more obscure offerings -- such as "Before Three" -- but everyone embraced such hits as "Friday I'm in Love" and "Lovesong."
The day's other true highlight was TV on the Radio, which proved again it deserves to be ranked among the world's best rock bands. The Brooklyn group can be as artsy and cerebral as jazz master Ornette Coleman and yet deliver the same type of adrenaline rush as a classic Ramones tune. When TV on the Radio manages to accomplish both at the same time -- in a song like "Wolf Like Me" -- the result can be downright spine-tingling.
Other acts, such as Delta Rae, Miner and Hurray for the Riff Raff, also had their moments onstage Friday. Yet they weren't in the same league with The Cure and TV on the Radio.
In all, it was an impressive start of a new chapter for BottleRock. It now seems plausible that the festival could have a bright future in front of it. It will be fascinating to see what organizers do next.
When: Noon Sunday
Where: Napa Valley Expo, Napa
Tickets: Single-day tickets start at $149; www.bottlerocknapavalley.com