Innings Festival 2023: Day One
The Innings Festival combines baseball’s spring training with top notch live music, all flavored with various food and beverage options. Innings Arizona took place on February 25 & 26, 2023 at Tempe Beach Park and Innings Florida played ball on March 18 & 19, 2023 at Raymond James Stadium Grounds in Tampa, Florida.
Day 1 of Innings Florida was headlined by Imagine Dragons, who played a full headlining set on a massive Home Plate stage, in front of tens of thousands of adoring fans. From the moment lead singer Dan Reynolds took his place in front of a spotlit microphone, his tan, muscled body covered only by board shorts, the crowd was entranced. Imagine Dragons gave a passionate performance, full of mega hit singles.
Their show was a perfect ending to a magical day of music.
Innings Festival is not only about the music, it also celebrates the yearly ritual of Major League Baseball’s spring training. There were batting cages and speed pitching cages where kids of all ages could test their skills. MLB Hall of Famers and All-Stars were on hand to take pictures and sign autographs. Saturday’s stars were Wade Boggs, Ryan Klesko, John Kruk, Rafael Furcal and Ray Lankford.
Jake Peavy and his band played an inspired set on the Left Field stage, including a touching tribute to Florida’s Lynyrd Skynyrd, in tribute to the recent passing of the last original member Gary Rossington. Coincidentally, Rossington met Ronnie Van Zant while playing baseball together in Jacksonville as teenagers, and they started a band that became Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Former All-Star pitcher Ryan Dempsey recorded an episode of his podcast “Off The Mound with Ryan Dempster” at the festival, interviewing Wade Boggs and others on the Left Field stage.
Musically, Innings Florida curated a very eclectic mix of genres, which at first appeared curious, but turned out to be an exceptional blend.
From the hip-hop stylings of Joey Valence & Brae to the flows of singer-songwriter Tai Verdes through the indie pop of Japanese Breakfast and the alternative rock of Grouplove, there was something for everyone. While most of these groups may have been unknown to the crowd, that didn’t stop them from dancing and vibing. Their performances surely gained them plenty of new fans.
Miami, Florida’s very own Mr. Worldwide, Pitbull, thrilled and surprised many during his hour-long set on the main stage. His Cuban-flavored pop hits were delivered flawlessly by a live band and his magnetic personality was enhanced by six beautiful and talented dancers. Bringing the club scene to a rock concert, Pitbull unleashed hit after hit, reminding many of his complete immersion into American music culture. Whether you actively listen to his music or not, you have probably heard every song he played. All in all, this was the most entertaining set of the entire day.
College rock heroes Weezer closed out the Verizon Right Field second stage, playing for an hour and 15 minutes. The crowd sang along to all of their favorites and seemed quite pleased with the show. As the skies darkened and an unseasonable cold front descended on Tampa, Weezer kept the crowd moving and warmed up for Imagine Dragons to close the day out.