BottleRock Adds New Latin Music Weekend, Festival La Onda

Arts & Celebrities

The team behind Napa Valley’s annual BottleRock Festival, held every Memorial Day weekend, are expanding into the booming Latin music market with a new festival. Festival La Onda will be held the first weekend of June, June 1 and 2 next year in the festival’s inaugural year.

The lineup, announced this morning (December 4), will be led by Maná, Fuerza Regida, Alejandro Fernández and Junior H, Among the other acts on the bill Farruko, Eslabon Armado, Café Tacvba, Los Ángeles Azules, Mon Laferte, Gabito Ballesteros, Danna Paola, Yahritzia y Su Esencia, Maldita Vecindad, La Arrolladora, Edén Muñoz, Gera MX, Ximena Sariñana, Siddhartha and more.

I spoke with BottleRock CEO Dave Graham, of Latitude 38 Entertainment, about Festival La Onda. As Graham explained in our talk, the festival will directly follow BottleRock (like Stagecoach does with Coachella), so the new event can enjoy all of the production and infrastructure that makes BottleRock my vote for the most enjoyable festival in America.

Tickets for the debut edition of Festival La Onda go on sale this Friday (December 8).

Steve Baltin: Jazz Fest, of course, has done two weekends for years. Coachella went to two weekends, then does Stagecoach. Was there a model that was impetus for expanding into the two different festivals in the back-to-back weekends?

Dave Graham: We noticed how big the Latin population is within Northern California. You look at how big it is within the community of Napa being over 40 percent. Looking at how strong in general Latin music is and has become, in particular, the last two years, especially in certain genres, it is crazy to think that there is no major multi-day Latin music festival for Latinos to call their own in Northern California. We decided to jump in and to do a major multi-day Latin festival. But in order to do it at the level at which it should be at in terms of bands, production, experience, using the infrastructure that we have for BottleRock was the only choice. Because to do it at some other point in time in a year, we would not be able to bring in the level of infrastructure, the level of production, and therefore the level of bands that we have around that. We felt like the Latin community deserved a festival at that level and they’re going to get one.

Baltin: When did you realize that the timing was right for this festival?

Graham: We had decided to do a Latin festival in the early summer of 2022 based on looking at ticket sales for certain artists, looking at a lack of a multi-day festival happening in Northern California, that is Latino. But we went to see Bad Bunny in August and we told Hans that we were going to do a Latin festival. And there’s still a little bit of insecurity when you’re making a statement to a colleague. “We’re doing this.” It means you’re doing this. And while we’re telling him this, and, of course, you have the nervousness entrepreneurs always have when they decide to jump off the bridge, so to speak, and do a new business. Looking at the crowd, looking at the excitement, looking at what the spend was at Bad Bunny, it completely put us at ease. Not that we’re going down the path of booking Bad Bunny. But you could see that so many of Bad Bunny’s fans were or could be BottleRock fans. They were demanding and enthusiastic about Latin music. And there needs to be more in our community and in Northern California. So, yeah, we’re definitely feeling good about taking this leap.

Baltin: How much of a crossover do you see with the BottleRock audience?

Graham: With BottleRock, 14 percent of our customer base is Latino. And we have very few Latino bands each year. And the demand, anecdotally, coming from our Latino customers, has been consistent for 10 years now. And when I talk to my friends that are Latinos that go to BottleRock and our customers that are Latinos that go to BottleRock, you go to a Bad Bunny show and there’s a very similar demographic and customer base that wants more and more Latino music. We felt like, “Look, you can’t turn BottleRock’s lineup into half or mostly Latino. Even though the demand, anecdotally, is there. Let’s lean in and create a Latino festival for Latinos and see where it goes. Definitely listening to our Latino customer base at BottleRock being 14 percent was a factor in our decision.

Baltin: Was there that one band early on that brought everybody else on board?

Graham: That was easy, that was Maná. We had other bands confirm before Maná, and big bands. But as soon as Maná jumps into the mix and commits, it says a lot to people that don’t know who the producers of BottleRock are, about the level at which this new festival will be at. It also speaks, from a social perspective, to other agents and managers representing Latino acts, that this is for real, this is big, and you might want to consider it.

Baltin: When did you start booking this festival?

Graham: We started booking this in September, October. I can get you the exact dates, but it was late 2022, beginning of 2023.

Baltin: So, it’s actually come together pretty quickly.

Graham: Yes.

Baltin: Did you find that there was an instant hunger for people from the music community to do this as well?

Graham: It’s never easy booking acts. But when we first went out to the agencies, the major agencies, they were excited, supportive, and wanted to have as many of their Latinx in the lineup as possible. So that was good. It’s another thing to figure out who you want to be, what you want to be in terms of a festival, which ultimately dictates the lineup. And so it took us a while to figure out who we wanted to be, what we wanted to be, which requires a lot of learning and a lot of understanding. And we’re just beginning to learn and to understand. The Latin markets, by no means, are we saying we understand it now. We’re in the process of understanding it. But we brought out some great people and then partnered with some good people and really brought in some mentors, so to speak, to help accelerate the learning curve. And we think it went well and has gone well so far.

Baltin: Are there people that you are particularly excited to have on there? Are there those one or two acts that you feel like will really define La Onda in the same way that I feel Stevie Wonder did BottleRock early on?

Graham: Yep. I think that if you look at the top line — Maná, Alejandro [Fernandez], Fuerza [Regida], Junior H, that says it all on a lot of levels. What does it say? We are leaning into Mexican artists, we are leaning into a multi-generational festival, a multi-genre festival, and we are doing that with the biggest Latinx in the world. And so much like with BottleRock, you and I can go see the Chili Peppers. They are of our generation. But at the same time, our children or young hipsters can go see an indie rock, an EDM, a hip-hop act that really speaks into their listening at the same time. And that’s really what we’re doing. When you think about Maná on one stage and Fuerza Regida on the other playing at the same time, I can go see Maná and my son can go see Fuerza, although I like Fuerza too and my son likes Maná. But you get my point.

Baltin: Yeah, I imagine booking a festival in 2023, it has to have something for everyone.

Graham: There’s something for everyone, but [it’s] not just throwing darts. These are surgical darts. This is very intentional. And then you look at Mexican regional, and there’s so many sub-genres, as you know. But to have Mexican regional at the Fuerza and Junior level, but then same time having bands like Edén Muñoz and LA Arrolladora playing at the same festival, just incredibly credible Mexican regional banda music artists all in the same lineup, it, for us, was something special. And no one’s putting Maná, Alejandro, Fuerza, Junior Ache in the same lineup. No one’s doing that.

Baltin: How has the response been from people who have seen the lineup?

Graham: Anecdotally, Steve, incredible. The number of signups that we’ve had, people that want to be made aware of the pre-sale and the on-sale dates, just blew us away. And one thing to note is that we really conveyed that La Onda is going to live on, but we wanted to include the name BottleRock on that, La Onda by BottleRock, at least in the short run. Because, as you know, we’re very proud of the premium customer experience that BottleRock is known for. We’re saying, “Hey,” to the Latino community, “We’re going to deliver that level of experience at La Onda too. And so it’s time that Latinos, not only in Northern California, but in general, are able to go to a festival that provides such a premium customer experience.”

Baltin: Will La Onda follow a similar VIP structure to BottleRock?

Graham: Similar and unique. We’re not just copying BottleRock. It’ll be catered and curated to Latinos, but there will be multiple levels of VIP. Though, just as with BottleRock, you don’t need to buy a VIP level ticket to be VIP. In fact, I’ve got to say, if I were going to the festival, I would be buying a GA+, because it’s got elevated viewing, it’s got shade, it’s got comfortable seats, it’s incredible. And that’s GA+. So, we are leaning in on production, on infrastructure, experience, and we’re excited for Latinos to have their own festival, but at this level. We’re excited to see how it’s received. Because even if they’d gone to other Latin music festivals, whether they be in the U.S. or outside, none of them will be at this level in terms of experience, production, infrastructure.


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