By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa
Festival Review: Innings Festival at Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida – March 18th-19th, 2022
The Innings Music Festival held its second festival event in Tampa, Florida on March 18th-19th to coincide with Major League Baseball training games in Florida and coincidentally Spring Break for many students from around the U.S. The Innings Festival was founded by Tim Sweetwood, a promoter with C3 Presents, who also produces notable festivals like Austin City Limits Music Festival and Lollapalooza. Sweetwood initiated the Innings Festival in Arizona in 2018 and it has become a much-anticipated annual event.
Held on the grounds adjacent to Raymond James Stadium, the first day of the Innings Festival began as a warm, sunny day. Most people were wearing shorts, enjoying hot dogs, and checking out baseball greats like Wade Boggs and Ray Lankford, who were doing Q&A sessions.
The festival featured two stages for viewing the main music acts—home plate and right field. Many concertgoers brought blankets for sitting and even a few inflatable couches were seen. Amenities like shade, picnic tables, and sofas, were available to VIP recipients. If you wanted true luxury, a metal covered “cabana” could be rented for 15 of your close friends for $21K. Yes, this is correct.
Shortly after we arrived, Philly alt-rock band Japanese Breakfast appeared on the main stage and performed hits like “Paprika” and “Be Sweet.” By 5:30 p.m., ominous clouds crept in. After a solid downpour, many grabbed plastic bags or ponchos and said a few “hail marys.” One nice feature of the festival was lockers for rent, making it a great place to stash an umbrella or a jacket. Fortunately the rain subsided after 10 minutes and the rest of the evening was pleasant, albeit much cooler.
Wearing colorful outfits and dancing while singing, Grouplove brought positive energy and vibrancy to the stage. The crowd was moving and sang along to “Tongue Tied,” one of the band’s big hits. Some may remember the band from the Gasparilla Music Festival a few years ago—and they never disappoint.
Before 7 p.m., the crowd almost doubled as many anticipated Miami favorite’s son Pitbull. When he sprung on stage with several dancers wearing red “Miami” shirts, the festival was transformed into a Latin hip-hop dance party with “Don’t Stop the Party” and “Hotel Room Service.” Many generations of concertgoers were standing and moving to Pitbull’s homage to old-school rap with a mix of classics which included “Jump Around,” “Jump Around,” and “Apache.”
At 8 p.m. Weezer entered the stage with lots of smoke, haze, colored lights, and adorned with a giant “W.” The band brought back the 90s with songs like “Island in the Sun,” “Undone—The Sweater,” and crowd favorite Toto’s “Africa.”
Finally, at almost 9:30 p.m., lead singer Daniel Wagner of Imagine Dragons came on stage wearing only boxer shorts. Looking very fit (and ripped) he sang a more recent hit “My Life.” By this time the temperature had dropped into the low 50s so even more kudos to him as we shivered. By the third song, “It’s Time,” the audience totally went wild as Wagner walked on the runway while cannons of smoke shot up, creating plenty of drama. Bass player Ben McKee held up the instrument over his head, proudly showing the rear, which was painted with a Pride heart and colors of the transgendered flag. McKee, including other members of Imagine Dragons, support charities that mentor LGBTQIA+ youth. The set ended with fan favorite “Radioactive.”
Day 2 of the festival brought more of a folksy alt-rock mix of bands, however, we were super happy 90s punk band the Breeders were on the roster. The Deal sisters (Kelly and Kim) and company performed a killer set with songs like “Cannonball” and even “Gigantic” by “Kim’s other band” the Pixies. Special kudos to Josephine Wiggs who was amazing on bass.
More Generation X fun was next around 5 p.m. with Third Eye Blind. We time-traveled back to the 90s with “Motorcycle Drive By” and a personal favorite “Jumper.” Things got really rowdy and wild when New Orleans band the Revivalists hit the stage at 6 p.m. While singing “You Said It All,” lead singer David Shaw jumped off the stage several times to shake hands with the audience screaming with glee. The whole audience was arm waving and singing along to “It Was a Sin.”
The mood became folksy by 7 p.m. when Marcus Mumford performed with only his acoustic guitar for accompaniment. Being fans of Mumford and Sons, we enjoyed his raspy voice and humorous banter between songs. He explained that since traveling the festival circuit, he’s been dropping quite a few “c-words” and that “festivals are not for 6-year-olds.”
The highly-anticipated band, the Avett Brothers, brought down the house with “Satan Pulls the Strings.” Cellist Joe Kwon and violinist Tania Elizabeth were ripping it up as the festival turned into a flashy hoedown. Each musician in the band is extremely gifted and you need to put this band on your “to see” list. They are kind of the “Gogol Bordello” of the folk-rock circuit.
Lastly, the evening began to come to a close—and the temperature was in the low-50s by the time the Dave Matthews Band came on the stage. Even he commented on how cold it was, as he stood on stage with a jacket and scarf, performing “Sweet World.” Unfortunately, the sky began to sprinkle at this point after a few songs into the set—and we needed to protect our camera gear. However, as I was walking away, I could hear the wonderful songs behind me. There is a reason the Dave Matthews Band is beloved; man, it had to rain!
Innings Festival is produced by C3 Presents, the team behind world-class festivals Lollapalooza worldwide, Austin City Limits Music Festival, Innings Festival Arizona in Tempe, Shaky Knees in Atlanta and more.
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