Spring training may be delayed, but baseball-themed Innings Fest weekend isn’t

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Innings Festival, Tempe Beach Park, Tempe, AZ on February 26th, 2022

Review by:  Val Tapia, BADS Contributing Writer
Photos by:  Fred Kuhlman
Venue: Tempe Beach Park, Tempe, AZ
Date:  Saturday & Sunday February 26th & 27th, 2022
Tour: The Innings Festival

On the surface, it might seem like baseball and music doesn’t mix too well. I must admit when Innings Fest came on my radar in March 2018, I thought it would go the way of the 2015 Halloween weekend Monster Mash, which was also held at Tempe Beach Park. The latter was billed as an “annual” event; however, it didn’t survive past its first year.

Speaking candidly, that was surprising considering opening night of that festival had two “monsters” of rock on the bill: Santana and John Fogerty. Long and short of it, the first night was cancelled due to an alarming lack of ticket sales. By contrast, the second night Tool sold out 30,000 tickets within the first three days they were on sale.

To its credit, Innings Fest stayed the course, and has proven to be quite successful with four editions of the festival now in the books. Celebrating the start of baseball season with Cactus League spring training all across the Valley, the festival (on Sat. Feb. 26 and Sun. Feb. 27, respectively) also featured a plethora of up-and-coming bands as well as a few veteran rockers to round out two days of non-stop music on two stages.

Foo Fighters were the mainstage headliner Saturday night, opening their 2 hour, 15-minute set with a re-arranged version of Times Like These. The hits (no pun intended) kept coming with The Pretender, My Hero, and Learning To Fly among others. There was even a point in the show where drummer Taylor Hawkins took over on lead vocals for a more-less well-received rendition of Queen’s Somebody To Love.

Elsewhere, there was quite a bit to take in throughout the park. In addition to the music, there was plenty of family friendly activities when it came to baseball. Batting cages and autograph sessions with former MLB players like Rick Sutcliffe, Jonny Gomes, and Hall of Famer Tim Raines were part of the fun, which was what some fans came for exclusively. The music was secondary to them.

However, it was Roger Clemens who many of the attendees were looking forward to seeing. There was a live “talk show” featuring host Ryan Dempster called Off The Mound, and strangely, there was absolutely no mention of what was unquestionably the elephant-in-the-room for the entire weekend: the delay of spring training.

In point of fact, not only did the athletes and Dempster avoid it like the plague, the musical artists onstage did as well. In hindsight, that was probably the most “shocking” aspect of the weekend.

I have to give a shout-out to Zia Records for coming up with a great idea to set up a pop-up store at the festival. Many of the artists on the bill had their latest CDs on sale, and in today’s music business climate, it’s great to see that people still care about physical copies of their favorite music. Kudos Zia!

In closing, there’s a little something for most at the Innings Fest



Crowd Photos From Innings Festival 2022, Tempe, AZ



Almost Monday



Girlhouse



Del Water Gap



Black Pistol Fire



The Dip



Dashboard Confessional



Caamp



Billy Strings


All Photos by Fred Kuhlman, All Rights Reserved

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