Best and Worst of Innings Fest 2024

Innings Fest 2024 KH mainbar

I’ve now fully recovered from a weekend in Tempe for the baseball-themed Innings Fest 2024 — my first year covering the festival after previously sending a photographer there a couple times to shoot photos of it for me.

Taking place just down the road from where spring training kicked off, the Friday and Saturday two-day festival was pretty jam packed. Headlined by the Red Hot Chili Peppers on Friday and Hozier on Saturday, fans filled out the Tempe Beach Park grounds pretty early on each day.

Here’s my recap on what I found to be the best of the festival and maybe a couple places that they could improve on.

Red Hot Chili Peppers

BEST: Red Hot Chili Peppers prove they’re still a topline headliner

We aren’t the only ones who have been pretty underwhelmed by the headliners of the 2024 festival season. And though I’ve seen the Red Hot Chili Peppers headline a number of festivals over the years, they’ve certainly breathed new life into the band by bringing back guitarist John Frusciante prior to last year’s tour. They still generate tons of name value as evidenced by single-day Friday tickets selling out and Innings Fest 2024 being packed to the gills by midday as many people held firm on having a good spot to watch the legendary LA funk rockers party. The set featured heavily from their transcendent records Californication and By The Way — two albums that cross generations, perfect for a family-friendly festival such as Innings Fest 2024. The new tracks that they played from their most recent album also sounded great live. These guys still got it and are reliable headliners as they continue to play into their fifth decade as a band.

BEST: The baseball theme stands out amongst crowded festival scene

I’m all for festivals doing something a little differently to separate themselves from the pack. We’ve seen a lot of specific genre scenes fold themselves into boutique festivals such as Just Like Heaven, Cruel World, When We Were Young, and Lovers & Friends festivals. But what Innings Fest 2024 does different from all of them is instead of making their festival different by the basis of their lineup, they make things different by integrating a spring training theme into the festival as MLB’s exhibition games get started the very same weekend of the festival. They brought along former major leaguers such as A’s legend Dave Stewart and former Marlins phenom Dontrelle Willis, while also featuring Ryan Dempster performing cover songs with a capable band and also doing a live podcast-type show with various MLB personalities. I was surprised at just how many people embraced the theme by wearing their favorite baseball jerseys and bringing memorabilia to get signed by the players that participated, You also got a chance to swing a bat or throw a pitch that was measured by speed.

Here are a couple ideas for Innings Fest 2024 to integrate the baseball theme even further: Right before the headliner takes the stage for the final day of the festival, call it the “7th inning stretch” and get someone to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame!” I also think if MLB was smart, they’d figure out a way to ingratiate themselves with the festival organizers and have a presence there, selling their own apparel (although we know how shitty their official jerseys are this year) or raffling off spring training tickets and the like since I feel like this festival is made up mostly of local Arizonians.

What’s cool about this whole thing is if you’re visiting from out-of-town, it’s a great way to convince your girlfriend or significant other to come to spring training by mentioning there’s also a music festival happening the same weekend. I saw a lot of couples and I had to believe this was part of the allure.

WORST: Lineup left just a little bit to be desired

I loved that this festival didn’t overdo it in terms of the number of acts performing, which also meant that a majority of the acts got a full hour or more to perform. One thing I’ve always disliked about overbooked festivals was that sometimes your favorite act on the lineup would maybe play 35 to 40 minutes, which if there’s a delay for any reason, you’re lucky to see much of them at all. At Innings Fest 2024, that wasn’t the case. However, with no overlap, I felt that some of the acts were positioned a little too high on the bill. A band like Cannons to me is a 3 PM or 4 PM type of festival act, and yet they had prime position on the secondary Right Field Stage right as the sun was beginning to set. I think Innings Fest 2024 should invest just a little bit more into the lineup to make people feel like they are getting bang for their buck. Conversely, on Friday it was amazing to see 311 play so early as they had an absolutely packed main stage crowd. Hozier as a festival headliner also seemed just a tad bit premature, though he has been selling out massive venues as of late.

BEST: A family-friendly vibe percolated everywhere

One thing I really appreciated about Innings Fest 2024 was it was a very family-friendly vibe. There weren’t unruly teenagers running around on ecstasy or being assholes. Adults threw down blankets but didn’t whine if you had to step across them to get to a better spot. Overall, the crowd was very friendly and many people seemed to take advantage of being able to take kids 7-and-under free to the festival. If I had kids, this was the perfect kind of festival to take advantage of, with great weather and an 11 PM curfew. You may of had to dodge some weed smoke from time to time, but people were pretty responsible with looking around and making sure they weren’t doing it where kids were.


WORST: Dusty as hell

The fields at Tempe Beach Park aren’t exactly maintained great, which is one thing it doesn’t have in common with baseball and their amazing grounds crews. By midday Friday, the amount of dust being kicked up meant you wanted to protect yourself from choking on it, and you didn’t want to keep your drink on the ground because minutes later it would have some dirt in it. As someone who wears contacts, my eyes were dry as hell rather early and it became a nuisance. When returning from the festival back to my hotel, I was completely covered in dirt and needed a long shower. I don’t know what exactly could be done about it, but the biggest complaint I heard all weekend long was about the dust.


All in all, Innings Fest 2024 was a great experience for me and I’m glad I got to cross that one off the bucket list. This was about my 40th multi-day festival I’ve attended and I’d rank it in the top half. The only thing that would hold me back from attending again his how expensive travel from out of state is with flights and hotels because of MLB spring training going on. The lineup needs to be a tad bit better with at least one band I would kill to see headlining the festival for me to accrue the cost to check it out again. But if you’re an Arizona resident, or you are already a spring training superfan that is making the trip, you should 100 percent cross this thing off.

Don’t forget that this coming weekend, Extra Innings Fest 2024 kicks off for the first time as the same promoters behind Innings Fest 2024 have another two-day festival at the same location in Tempe. This festival is headlined by Chris Stapleton and Dave Matthews Band, while also featuring names like Noah Kahan, Sheryl Crow, Gin Blossoms, Larkin Poe, Ryan Bingham, Charley Crockett, and more! We’ll have photos from that festival this coming weekend.

Words by Mark Ortega
Photos by Kristen Hegel

Young the Giant

Anthony Kieidis of Red Hot Chili Peppers


Third Eye Blind

Matt & Kim


Dontrelle Willis

Cautious Clay


Jimmy Eat World