More than 20 bands took the stage at Beach Road Weekend music festival this weekend. The three-day event brought high-profile acts to the Island and introduced Vineyard groups to the masses.

Thousands of people packed Veterans Memorial Park in Tisbury for the festival, which started Friday and ran through Sunday night.

Bon Iver, Mumford and Sons, and Leon Bridges were the headliners. Island musicians Mike Benjamin, Phil daRosa and Willy Mason also graced the stage. 

Crowds pack the sunny Saturday. — Jonathan Fleischmann

The festival got off to a wet start Friday. Ponchos rippled in the breeze and rain muddied the ground as thousands of devoted music lovers made their way to the downtown park.

Though clearly smaller than the 12,000 daily attendance cap, Friday’s audience punched well above its weight in loyalty and enthusiasm, all but ignoring the light rain that fell throughout much of the day.

Opening the festival just after noon, singer Maggie Rose and her band delivered a high-energy set of pop-rock infused with country, soul and gospel as listeners cheered and danced in front of the stage.

Kevin Morby followed Ms. Rose with his band to play a brooding set of lyrical, often impassioned rock that called to mind a more volatile Velvet Underground in its textured use of acoustic and electric instruments.

An engaging solo performance by singer-songwriter John Hiatt gave fans the chance to hear both music and stories from a founding father of Americana music.

“You are a folk singer’s audience, and don’t let anyone tell you any different,” said Mr. Hiatt, who chatted amiably from the stage between songs and accompanied himself on acoustic guitar as he played beloved originals such as Have a Little Faith in Me, Memphis in the Meantime and Thing Called Love, which became a hit for Bonnie Raitt in 1989.

Following Mr. Hiatt, the trio Caamp turned up the volume for a powerful set of rock influenced by both folk and noise music, with banjo as well as electric guitar.

By the time Patti Smith and Her Band took the stage at 4:15 p.m., the audience had swelled by several times its size at noon and thronging fans pressed together against the rail in front of the stage, eager to see their rock and roll icon.

Marcus Mumford closes out the second day of the festival. — Jonathan Fleischmann

Ms. Smith gave full measure, performing for more than an hour with guitarists Lenny Kaye and Jackson Smith, drummer Jay Dee Daugherty and bassist-keyboardist Tony Shanahan.

From the first notes of her anthem People Have the Power, Ms. Smith and the band rocked the increasingly delirious audience, which sang and clapped along en masse at her command and cheered wildly at every opportunity.

A poet since long before she became a pathbreaking musician and public intellectual, Ms. Smith introduced her song Waiting Underground with a dedication to the late Allen Ginsberg.

“When we’re feeling low and we feel disconnected, there are people all through history [and] the sense of them is still with us,” she said.

“He was a great teacher, a great poet who was anti-war [and] put himself on the line for human rights over and over,” Ms. Smith said.

That sense of transcendence and endurance emerged again as Ms. Smith’s talked about her late husband, former MC5 guitarist Fred (Sonic) Smith, who died in 1994 after the couple had been married for less than 15 years.

“He’s still my boyfriend,” she said, introducing a love song she wrote for him: Because the Night, which became her biggest hit after Bruce Springsteen declined to release his version in 1978.

Ms. Smith and the band also paid tribute to guitarist Tom Verlaine, who died early this year, by playing his song Guiding Light from the 1977 Television album Marquee Moon. Other songs that kept the festival audience singing and cheering included Ms. Smith’s postmodernized Gloria, from Horses; her Dancing Barefoot, from the 1979 album Wave and Neil Young’s aching 1974 elegy After the Gold Rush, with the updated chorus “Look at Mother Nature on the run in the 21st century.”

Patti Smith wows the audience on a rainy night. — Jeanna Shepard

Throughout the set, Ms. Smith took time to wave at fans from the stage and urged her listeners to become activists for a better world.

“Feel your … power!” she shouted. “We are the future and the future is now!”

Bon Iver, an independent folk-rock act that combines ethereal, sampled vocals and sound sequences with live instrumentalist, closed out Friday. Spearheaded by Justin Vernon since 2007, the group has gained a fervent following for its hard-to-classify sounds, which can swerve from experimental noise to long lyrics with dreamy harmonies.

While most ticket holders trudged off in the rain to catch a ferry or ride shuttle buses to where their cars were parked, a couple of hundred music-lovers stayed on the festival grounds to hear Mike Benjamin and 10 fellow musicians play an hour-long local set.

Mr. Benjamin took his Beach Road booking as an opportunity to showcase some of his favorite fellow Island musicians, including  saxophonists Steve Tully and Scott Shetler, singers Jody Treloar, Joanna Cassidy and Darby Patterson and fellow guitarist Jon Zeeman.

Saturday seemed to draw a larger crowd.

“We’ve had much stronger, earlier attendance and I definitely think the weather turning around had a lot to do with that,” Rica Brodo, an account executive at MVY Radio, said while manning the station’s promo booth.

The station plays a major role at Beach Road Weekend, supporting after-show concerts and one of the festival’s two stages.

John Hiatt strums his guitar. — Jeanna Shepard

At the booth, the station was handing out paper fans, selling bandanas and encouraging people to download the station’s mobile app. The fans became a hot commodity throughout the day — the station handed them out to the first 2,000 attendees at the park on Saturday, but had more at its booth as temperatures rose throughout the day.

“We have a few extra on hand today,” Ms. Brodo said. “Because we definitely have some people melting out here.”

Kate Mellinger, the founder of Sojourn Pottery, said the festival was working wonders for her Miami-based business, which launched in May of this year.

Sojourn is a female-founded ceramics company based in Miami. Beach Road Weekend was Sojourn’s first big event, and the company’s mix-and-match pottery was selling well as the day went on.

“This has been huge for us,” Ms. Mellinger said. “It’s given us a lot of exposure to the Island scene.”

Also coming to the festival from off-Island, festival-goers Tara Glidden and Jen Schlitt of Nova Scotia, bought tickets after Ms. Glidden saw the festival’s lineup posted on Instagram.

“I started following a lot of the bands we like and keeping track of shows in New England and Canada, and this festival ticked a lot of the boxes,” Ms. Glidden said, adding she was most excited to see Caamp and The Head and the Heart, who both played on Friday.

Donning a Mumford and Sons T-shirt, Ms. Schlitt said it was the band she was most looking forward to seeing on Saturday. Out of the whole weekend’s lineup, she was most excited to see Bon Iver and Leon Bridges.

Japanese Breakfast lead singer Michelle Zauner said it was her first trip to the Vineyard. — Ray Ewing

Over the soulful music of St. Paul and The Broken Bones’ early-afternoon set, Beach Road’s publicist Joe Chambers said all of Saturday’s artists were ready to play and the day was going fantastically.

“Sammy Rae even jumped on stage earlier with Cory Wong,” he said. “We’re all making music together and having a great day.”

After their headlining show on Saturdays, Mr. Chambers reported that folk band Mumford and Sons celebrated with a dinner at Nancy’s in Oak Bluffs.

“They ordered nearly everything on the menu,” he laughed.

Falmouth-based rock group Crooked Coast kicked off the festival’s third day with a bang, combining punk, rock, reggae and pop with infectious, crowd-rallying energy.

The streets of Vineyard Haven, by contrast, were unusually quiet for a summer weekend afternoon. Three Tisbury police officers were stationed at the Five Corners intersection to steer traffic around the event at Veterans Park.

Thousands of people packed Veterans Memorial Park for the festival. — Jonathan Fleischmann

Tisbury fire chief Greg Leland said the event had gone smoothly so far with no major incidents, medical or otherwise.

“It’s been an eventful, well-run, tastefully-done event,” he said. “Friday was a nightmare but it was a nightmare because it was raining, and Tisbury is a nightmare every time it rains.”

Gregory Porter took the stage at 1 p.m. to deliver upbeat, jazzy blues just as the afternoon sun began to beat down.
As more concert-goers trickled in for the afternoon, the crowd soon became a sea of bucket hats and loudly patterned shirts. Alvvays kept up the momentum with high-energy indie pop as frontwoman Molly Rankin's ephemeral vocals rang across Veterans Park. Dinosaur Jr. raged with a ferocity that can only be cultivated after over thirty years of punk rocking.

“I was told Larry David would be here,” Ms. Rankin told the crowd during the Alvvays set. “Show yourself, Larry.”

Singer-songwriter Regina Spektor followed with a sparse, piano-only set, a welcome reprieve from the grizzly synths and guitars that had preceded her. Clouds gathered to cool down festival-goers right as the set began, as if in deference to the twee icon.

The clouds parted in time for a spirited opening by Japanese Breakfast, playing the title track of Jubilee, their latest album. The band’s lead singer Michelle Zauner pranced around the stage with a mallet, pausing only to hit a flower-covered gong. As the indie pop-rock group cycled through its repertoire, Ms. Zauner revealed that she, like many other acts that weekend, had never been to the Island before.

“Even though I've never been here this is a very special place to me,” she continued. “My now-husband was on a boat here when I proposed to him.”

Leon Bridges capped off the weekend with a one and a half-hour tour through soul, rock and R&B. Dressed in all-white and a pair of Ciara Gina sunglasses, Mr. Bridges drew perhaps the largest crowd of the entire weekend. Audience members hung on every word, whispering the titles of songs to each other as the first few notes rang out.

Local musicians Mike Benjamin, Phil daRosa and Willy Mason all played during the three-day festival. — Ray Ewing

Mr. Bridges pulled out an acoustic guitar for a grittier rendition of Texas Sun, and later slid across the stage in full popstar fashion for the more upbeat B-Side.

Although MVY executive director PJ Finn said he was most excited to see Mr. Bridges, he had his own personal connection to singer-songwriter John Hiatt who performed Friday.

“I was supposed to see John Hiatt 23 years ago but I skipped it to interview for a position at a radio station on Martha’s Vineyard, a place I had never been to before,” Mr. Finn said.

He ended up getting the job at MVY Radio and 23 years later, he saw Mr. Hiatt for the first time this weekend.

“Was it worth the wait?” Mr. Finn said. “Oh yeah.”

More pictures.