The third annual Innings Festival combined sports and sounds for Arizona’s festival season kickoff this weekend at Tempe Beach Park. Massive rock acts Dave Matthews Band and Weezer headlined the two-day celebration, joined by a litany of stellar performers and baseball stars for a weekend under the Arizona sun. Atlas caught all the action- here’s our pick for the best sets of Innings 2020.
The mighty Weezer pulled up right on time to save Sunday evening and everyone from young kids to grandparents was ready. Opening with “Buddy Holly” is always a power move, executed flawlessly by a band that’s never taken themselves too seriously. From their coordinating flannel outfits, their choice cover songs (Black Sabbath and a-ha and Nirvana, oh my!) and two new songs, fans ate it up. Hands waved and swayed for their acclaimed cover of Toto’s “Africa” and hands banged for “Hash Pipe” and “Beverly Hills”. The band returned for an encore of “My Name is Jonas” and “Say It Ain’t So”, closing a night of big fun and tasty riffs.
Spotted in the crowd- two friends singing all the words at each other and living their best lives.
The Diamondbacks pitcher provided a relief appearance on Saturday evening, meeting eager fans for nearly an hour at the fest’s Left Field baseball experience. Other MLB legends were on hand for photos and autographs as well, but Bradley handed out smiles and a dash of hometown pride for those there for more than music.
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Saturday definitely leaned into a more folksy, country vibe but the crowds were definitely ready for it. Jason Isbell and his band took the twang to a new level with their straightforward Alabama sound. The band plugged their new album with two new songs that had attendees moving their feet and cheering their approval. The sun set right behind the stage for Isbell’s set and there may not have been a more perfect moment for the entirety of the weekend.
Dave Matthews Band
“What a nice place to meet up with y’all,” Dave Matthews drawled at a packed field to kick off his set.
The dads (and really everybody else) came out in droves for Matthews and his band, who had a whopping two and a half hours to jam at the close of day one. The band made good on their time with a setlist full of favorites and a few choice covers as well (The Doobie Brothers and Rufus anyone?). Naturally, they closed with “Ants Marching” before including an encore to end the night.
“If you ain’t sweatin’, you ain’t doin’ it right baby!”
Flamboyant frontman Luke Spiller made the main stage all about the spectacle for The Struts to really get things going on day two. Beyond the pomp and circumstance of their outfits and suggestive dancing, these boys can play and the audience was all in. The band was certainly burning up in the direct sunlight for their set, but the energy never wavered for “Body Talks”, “Kiss This” and “Fire” before launching into new track “Nobody Does It Like You”. Spiller and co. made sure their rapt audience was jumping, clapping and most definitely sweating right along with the band.
Day two was full of surprises and O.A.R. in the running for best set of the day was one of them. The Maryland rock group pulled out all the stops with trumpet and saxophone spotlights and stellar vocals from frontman Marc Roberge. Another sundown set was the perfect backdrop for this band’s chill vibes and their crowd stretched long past the soundbooth and into the hills of the park as fans swayed to “Love and Memories”, “Shattered (Turn the Car Around)” and more.
Rainbow Kitten Surprise
This band’s four-part harmony may have been the most impressive moment of Innings’ final day. People watching during this set found many fans meandering before the heavyweights at the top of the lineup, but RKS had them all enthralled with just a few songs (and more than a few contortionist antics by singer Sam Melo). An unexpectedly great time was had and these fun-loving guys certainly walked away from Arizona with a pack of new converts.
Death Cab for Cutie
Unfortunately, not everything came up roses for Innings this year. Death Cab for Cutie, billed second to last on Sunday, got off to a rough start, with frontman Ben Gibbard announcing his severe illness after the band’s first song. After visibly struggling for three more, Gibbard dropped his guitar and exited the stage as his bandmates apologized for not being able to continue the set. Fans were confused, sad and (in some cases) loudly outraged at this abrupt ending to a highly anticipated show. Regardless, the general consensus was hope that the band recovers their health soon.
Innings Festival has already announced their dates for February 2021, so we’ll be seeing this party return next spring. Stay tuned for more details and lineup announcements later this year!
Check out even more photos from the show!
Story by Olivia Khiel
Photos courtesy of Sydney Gawlik, Charles Reagan Hackleman and Roger Ho