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How to Hack “Bottlerock”

Tips for free parking, free bottled water and secret “VIP” lounges
By - posted 5/27/2017 No Comment

Bottlerock is hopelessly sold out… but if you’re lucky enough to have bought a pass, you’re in luck even if you didn’t get a VIP pass. Funcheap went to Bottlerock on Friday and we found some ways to “hack” your own VIP(ish) experience even if all you have is General Admission. We can’t promise all these tips will work for you, but they did for us!

How to Get Free Parking

“Official” parking passes cost $35, force you to park pretty far from the festival and are mostly sold out. Neighbors and businesses around the festival grounds charge between $40 -$50 to park in their driveways (and to be honest we’re not sure if they actually run the lots of if they’re just taking money).

We’ve found luck with free parking each of the last three years really close to the festival.

If you drive North on Silverado with the festival grounds on your left then turn right on Hennessey. There are big signs that say “No Event Parking” but we’ve never seen this enforced. Many neighbors will block the curb in front of their house with caution tape and garbage cans. Don’t move these. We’ve seen the cops stop people who do this.

But on these side streets that turn off of Hennessey we’ve found open spots three years in a row. Park at your own risk, though.

Try just off of Silverado for free parking

Obviously the early you go the better, on Friday we found an open spot right away around 3:15pm – that was about 50 feet from the festival grounds. Score!

If you bike there’s also complimentary bicycle parking a short distance from the venue at the corner of First Street and Silverado Trail. Open during the festival 9am – 11pm daily.

Best Place to Listen From Outside the Festival Grounds

Don’t have a ticket at all but just want to enjoy listening to the festival? It depends on the weather than wind, but we’ve kicked it right outside the exit on Silverado (and Hennessy Dr.) and you can actually hear the main Jam Cellars stage very clearly. This is where we listened to Saint Motel on Friday. Not as good as being inside of course, but for cheapskates like us it was great.

“VIP” Lounge at Main Stage + Free Acoustic Sets

We spent most of our time at the main stage at the JamPad – a tent that “looks” VIP but it’s actually open to GA ticket holders. It’s a wine bar on a raised platform so you get a great view above the crowd.

The View from JamPad – Rise above the crowd.

It’s about 10 feet from the Alaska Airlines Skydeck so the viewing experience is nearly identical (but for no extra cost) – plus there’s tables, chairs, couches and shade. During main stage sets there’s a big video screen of the concert. And in between And in between main stage sets Alice 97.3 brings in artists from other stages to perform intimate acoustic shows and do interviews. On Friday we saw great sets by Michael Franti, The Heydaze and Gnash.

JamPad Tips: The main tip we can give for the JamPad is to go to the bathroom first. There is no bathroom in this lounge and if you leave then you’ll have to wait in the line to get back in. Also, plan to arrive early.

There was only a 10-15 minute wait until about 5pm (about every 15 mins they let in 10-40 people depending on how many people left). And then after about 4pm the line started getting insanely long. But once you’re in the lounge you’re set and they won’t kick you out.

Live acoustic sets in between main stage acts


The JamPad Acoustic Schedule


Samsung “VIP” Lounge + Free Water + VIP Upgrade Raffle

The second largest stage, the Samsung Stage also has a VIP-ish lounge with a raised platform to give you a view above the crowd, tons of shade, couches, chairs and few other goodies. We never saw a line for this lounge – we just walked right in.

Shade, comfy seating and a raised view over the crowd

Like a VIP lounge, but free

The purpose of this lounge is to try to get you excited about Samsung appliances like futuristic digital refrigerators. But if you open the fridge on the top shelf you’ll find free, cold bottled water! (Much better than spending $4-$5 for a bottle at one of the vendors).

Free cold bottles of water hidden in the Samsung fridge. Sorry, you can’t eat the food.

And if it’s a really hot and sunny day then open up the freezer and you’ll find free ice cold cooling towels. If you don’t know what a cooling towel is, you grab one of these guys, pour water over it and then drape it over your neck it does a great job of keeping you cool. These items are free for the taking, but it’s probably good form to ask someone who works in the Samsung tent first.

Open the freezer for ice cold “cooling” towels


Win a VIP Upgrade – Samsung is also running a daily raffle for a free upgrade to VIP tickets. And hardly anyone seems to enter so your chances of winning are really good. Seriously, on Friday only 5 people entered the contest (and one of them was just someone who entered twice) – so that gave them a 20% chance of a VIP upgrade.

Only 5 people entered the “Upgrade to VIP” contest on Friday

To enter you just need to take a photo in the lounge and share it with @samsungusa on Instagram and hashtag #bottlerockvip and #sweepstakes – The contest is open from 11:30am to 2:30pm (although another person told us 2pm) – And then make sure you’re in the lounge when they pick the winner (either at 2p or 2:30p) and then if you win they’ll give you a VIP wristband. Just ask someone who works in the lounge what time they are picking the winners and make sure you are there.

The Secret Chill Out Pad

Right next to the silent disco is the Sutter Health Wellness “Spa.” It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the inside is like a little oasis with tons of super comfy couches, complete shade and a DJ. All of this is free for anyone to use and relax in.

If you’ve got lots of dough there are also spa services like neck & shoulder massages for $25, hair braiding, vitamin B12 shots and lots of other ways to pamper yourself. But we just used this lounge for a good 20 minute rest from the sun – and to lounge on the couch to recharge ourselves. There’s also a bar in here where there was never more than two people in line.

Even at peak times there seemed to always be an open couch seat, and it was never crowded for practically the whole day.

Sink into the couch at the “spa”

Shortest Beer Lines

The lines for food and drinks can get insanely long – especially right around 5-7pm. But we found two bars that had lines that were much shorter than others in the festival.

Shortest Beer Line – This was at the Lagunitas stage near the 3rd Street entrance on the north end of the festival just north of Food Truck Alley. This dedicated beer tent is to the right of the stage. Most times we checked it was quicker to walk there, get your beer, and walk back then wait in any of the lines in the Culinary Garden.

Shortest Wine Line – This is in the Sutter Health Wellness Spa right next to the silent disco. No one seems to know they sell wine in here and we never saw more than two people in line.

Getting Home – Seriously, Use Waze

Most everyone heading south to SF after the festival gets stuck in insane traffic on Silverado and Soscol. We’ve let Waze direct us the past two years and it’s been awesome. Yes, you still hit a little bit of traffic, but nothing like on the main roads. We were directed around the traffic on most of Silverado through some neighborhoods south of Coombsville Road and then Waze.

It probably saved us about 30 mins (or more) stuck in traffic. We left Friday night right at 10pm when the last band ended and got back to SF in 57 minutes with just little spots of traffic. Just let waze tell you what to do.

Waze drove us in circles, but home in 57 minutes

Have any tips to share?
Do you have any tips of your own to share about how to “hack” Bottlerock to get the most out of the festival? Please leave a comment below – we’d love to hear your ideas!