March 23rd-25th, 2018
Tempe Beach Park & Tempe Arts Park in Tempe, Arizona
Day 1: Bishop Briggs (London), Phosphorescent (Brooklyn, NY), Sylvan Esso (Durham, NC), Eagles of Death Metal (Palm Desert, CA), Young the Giant (Irvine, CA), Cold War Kids (Silverlake, CA), and Queens of the Stone Age (Palm Desert, CA)
Day 2: Lord Huron (Los Angeles, CA), Local Natives (Silverlake, CA), The Decemberists (Portland, OR), The Head and the Heart (Seattle, WA), and The Avett Brothers (Concord, NC)
Day 3: J Roddy Walston and the Business (Baltimore, MD), Citizen Cope (Brooklyn, NY), Luke Combs (Ashville, NC), Counting Crows (Berkeley, CA), Jake Bugg (Nottingham, UK), and Chris Stapleton (Paintsville, KY)
Take me out to the ball game, take me out with the crowd, buy me some peanuts, street tacos, a pizza cone and a craft beer, I don’t care if I never get back! I’m sure we had a few artists who could put their own lyrical spin on the classic baseball song.
As if we needed another great excuse to visit Arizona during March, the inaugural Innings Festival hit the Beach and Arts park in Tempe the weekend of March 23rd. It featured an amazing lineup of music, food, and drinks all within a baseball atmosphere. This festival combined two things I really love: music and baseball, both of which are as American as mom and apple pie! We didn’t have a seventh inning stretch, each inning (artist) had fans who knew their lyrics and sang with their favorite artists on stage. It was an inside the park home run that had the crowd cheering louder as each base was being rounded. Each night as an added bonus Mother Nature provided us with some great sunsets over the Salt River as we went into the later innings.
I’ve said this for a long time, the career paths of musicians and baseball players mirror each other. They start low in the farm system to pay their dues and hopefully make it to the big leagues.
Rookie Ball = open mics/backyard parties
Low and High A = local clubs
Double A = opening for national acts in local theaters
Triple A = touring both nationally and internationally, building a fan base
Big Leagues = headlining your own tour -playing higher capacity theaters, festivals, perhaps arenas, and for those heavy home run hitters who have reached the rarified air of performing in stadiums.
With that being said this festival featured two bands, Lord Huron and The Head and the Heart, that I was lucky enough to catch at The Casbah, a club with a capacity around 200 in my hometown of San Diego. Both of those bands have excelled at every level of the farm system, and they both are growing larger fan bases with each new album! I remember speaking with Charity after their performance and saying how great it was they had signed with Sub Pop records. And for Lord Huron I bought an EP from them after their in-store performance at M-Theory records a few hours before they hit the stage at The Casbah. Great memories!
Also amazing was knowing Jake Peavy was going to be on hand to not only meet fans and sign autographs, but also to provide some pitching instruction. I saw his major league debut versus the New York Yankees on June 22, 2002, in front of 60,021 baseball fans at The Q (our multi-purpose stadium sponsored by Qualcomm). And yes, I have pictures to prove I was there. Now he’s a retired pitcher doing great things including being in charge of the Jake Peavy Foundation. The foundation changes the lives of young people through sports, music, arts and financial literacy. He had a good fifteen-year career, won a Cy Young Award with the Padres, a World Series title with the White Sox, and had a record of 152-126, 2,202 strike outs and a 3.63 ERA.
Queens of the Stone Age – Palm Desert, CA 1996
The Avett Brothers – Concord, NC 2000
Chris Stapleton – Paintsville, KY 2001
Young The Giant – Irvine, CA 2004
Cold War Kids – Long Beach, CA 2004
Local Natives – Silverlake, CA2005
The Decemberists – Portland, OR 2000
The Head and the Heart – Seattle, WA 2009
Lord Huron – Okemos, MI 2010
Eagles of Death Metal – Palm Desert, CA 1998
Counting Crows – Berkeley, CA 1991
Also on the active roster: Bishop Briggs, Phosphorescent, Sylvan Esso, J Roddy Walson & The Business, Citizen Cope, Luke Combs and Jake Bugg. Available from the bullpen is Jake Peavy.