Innings Festival Recap
Photos and story by Kelly Fox
Late March in the Valley will soon be punctuated by Tempe’s newest music festival every spring: Innings Festival. After the fest’s inaugural weekend, it’s become clear that it’s here to stay. With a stellar lineup and impeccable management, the baseball-themed festival proved its mettle without a hitch on the first try.
Friday proved to be the most “Blaze-friendly,” including headliners like Queens of the Stone Age and Young the Giant. Bishop Briggs also kicked the main stage off with a killer stage presence and set of pipes. Sylvan Esso returned to the Valley to show us what they’re made of again, and Cold War Kids fit in all the hits. Young the Giant somehow made a giant field with thousands of people feel intimate, and Queens of the Stone Age finished out the night by packing the “house” and bringing their all.
Day number two mixed indie and country, with powerhouses like The Avett Brothers and The Head and the Heart. The Decemberists and Lord Huron both gave Tempe some acoustic-style love that left us ready to dance for the likes of Local Natives, who mixed vocals into a symphony backed with an actual symphony. There was truly something for everyone on Saturday, which explains the huge attendance.
Nevertheless, Sunday was the only day that sold out of single-day passes, and the lineup was largely country-based. This isn’t Blaze’s usual wheelhouse, but nevertheless, artists like Chris Stapleton, Mt. Joy, Counting Crows, and Jake Bugg gave us a wonderful evening to end Innings Festival.
Clearly, the bands pulled through and brought their A-game, but what impressed this reporter more than the music and wonderful food was the management. No band went on more than a few minutes late, and every person who walked in the gates knew where they needed to be when. There was no running, no rushing, no scrambling, and no confusion for anyone—just beautiful nights of music, friendship, food, and community.
Pardon the pun, but Innings Festival was a home run. It’s also a shining example of what can happen when experienced professionals put a ton of hard work into a production. We at Blaze were, to put it plainly, hella impressed by the first Innings Festival, and we can’t wait to catch the next staple in this assuredly lasting tradition.