Music fans turned out en masse.
Music fans turned out en masse.
Kelsee Becker

The Best and Worst of Innings Festival

The first-ever Innings Festival has come and gone. Between the bands, the vibe, and the walking (so much walking), we saw and heard a whole lot. Some people knocked it outta the park. Others? Well, we hope they get traded next season.

Here's a look back at the best and worst of the baseball-themed event at Tempe Beach Park.

Worst Frontloading
Credit where credit is due: The folks behind Innings picked a cool range of acts. From No Depression alt-country heroes to electro-pop stars, there was something for everyone. But it seemed like they had trouble spreading the wealth out over three days. Friday was jam-packed with big-name acts. Having groups like Queens of the Stone Age, Sylvan Esso, Young The Giant, Phosphorescent, and Cold War Kids all on one day had the rest of the weekend looking light in comparison. Ashley Naftule

Best Grumpy Old Men
Something about the Home Plate stage brought out sauciness with the old dude set. On Friday night, a gray-haired man grumpily made his way out of the crowd during Queens of the Stone Age. As he walked toward the exit, he gave them a dramatic thumbs-down. Same stage on Saturday: Another gray-haired man put his earbuds in while Lord Huron performed. The shade, y'all. The spectacular shade. Becky Bartkowski

Best Ambiance
More festivals should have a waterfront. Being able to look out at Tempe Town Lake and watch moonlight shimmering on its ripples while loud music buzzed through the air made Innings all the more blissful and relaxed. And all the trees and lush greenery made wandering the park grounds between acts more enjoyable. A.N.

Worst Going the Distance
We lost count of the number of people we heard grumbling about the walking distance between Home Plate and Right Field. While it was nice getting a chance to rack up some steps on the ol' Fitbit, it also meant that if you didn't leave a set five to 10 minutes early you'd miss the beginning of the next show. A.N.

A massive crowd turns up for Gin Blossoms at Right Field Stage.
A massive crowd turns up for Gin Blossoms at Right Field Stage.
Kelsee Becker

Best Surprise Turnout
Who would have thought so many people would turn out to watch a 5 p.m. Gin Blossoms set? The hometown heroes drew a crowd size that was almost headliner-worthy for their set. A.N.

Best Gin Blossoms Song for Crying in Public (Behind Sunglasses)
"Hey Jealousy." Just sayin'. B.B.

Worst Victorian Twerking
There are groups whose music demands that you drop it low and to the floor, pronto. The Decembrists, bless their hearts, are not one of them. But that didn't stop a group of girls from freaking the fuck out and dancing like they were listening to the Yin Yang Twins whisper in their ear while Colin Meloy and co. did their thing. A.N.

Best Advice
During a killer set on the Left Field stage, Craig Finn shared a few words of wisdom for political, social, and personal harmony. "I think we've all got to tell the truth to each other," he said. "I do believe it's the key to something." B.B.

Lord Huron fans cheer for the band on day two.
Lord Huron fans cheer for the band on day two.
Kelsee Becker

Best Sunset Set
There's no better time and place to see Phosphorescent than on a Friday sunset. Lying on the grass and listening to them play "Song For Zula" as a cool breeze wafted across the park, it was the perfect environment to soak up Phosphorescent's mellow sounds. A.N.

Worst Help
When asking an information desk person where to find the 21-and-over wristband tent, she said that they wouldn't worry about it for people who look older than 30. (I am not older than 30.) B.B.

Best Seats in the House
One advantage Innings has over festivals like McDowell Mountain: There are plenty of places where you can actually sit down. Benches and large rocks were scattered across the park, offering an alternative to parking your ass on the grass. There was also a decent amount of shade structures available with all the trees and bridges and buildings around the park, which made warmer days like Friday more palpable. A.N.

Worst Observation
Another one for the so-fucking-rude pile: A bartender thought it was chill to tell me I looked tired on Saturday night. Cool vibe, dude. Great work. And thanks for your input. B.B.

This fan knows the best way to get a better view for Local Natives.
This fan knows the best way to get a better view for Local Natives.
Kelsee Becker

Best T-Shirt
The lady on Saturday wearing a "The Dixie Chicks For President 2016" shirt. A.N.

Best Amplifier
The Eagles of Death Metal had an amp with Richard Simmons on it. Forget sweatin' to the oldies. They were feedbacking to the oldies. A.N.

Best Hair
Goes to Seth Avett. Where is this man's Pantene deal? B.B.

Worst Joke
From a stranger who very misguidedly wanted to make friends before the Avett Brothers set: "What do you call it when Batman skips church? Christian Bale." Oh, sweetie. Hard pass. B.B.

Local Natives have an impressive light show for their Saturday evening performance.
Local Natives have an impressive light show for their Saturday evening performance.
Kelsee Becker

Best Board Game-Inspired Set Design
Whoever did the lighting for Local Natives' set must love playing Simon, cause the colors and patterns flashing behind the band were begging us to hit them. A.N.

Best Entrance
The Decembrists' announced their arrival onstage by blasting a warped and chaotic rendition of Grieg's "In The Hall of the Mountain King" that sounded like it was being played by a drunk orchestra. A.N.

Best and Worst Name-Drop
Swear to G that Colin Meloy said Lin-Manuel Miranda's name at least three times. Love that y'all know each other. Love that you love American history. Love the Hamilton outtake where Benjamin Franklin says "fuck" a lot. But let's dial it back. B.B.

Worst All-Time Worst
The parking on Friday was, pardon our French, a fucking nightmare. Having a music festival happen near Mill Avenue on the same weekend as the Tempe Arts Festival meant that Ash Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway were choked with traffic. Things improved over the weekend, but getting in and out was still a bit of a challenge. A.N.

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