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REVIEW: Inkcarceration Music & Tattoo Festival

Photo Cred: Steve Thrasher/Danny Wimmer Presents

The Inkcarceration Music & Tattoo Festival began on the big stage right before noon on Friday with heavy metal band Spite and went full throttle from start to finish. From that first moment of head banging to the last notes that drifted over the grounds of the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield late Sunday evening as Rob Zombie closed out the festival, there was a feeling of unity and love of live music that brought over 75,000 fans to worship at the church of ink and metal.


Photo Cred: Nathan Zucker / Danny Wimmer Presents

Many fans came out dressed to kill in leather, lace, studs, and glitter – with colorful hair that was spiked and gelled to the sky. Others came in t-shirts and jeans, in boots and flip flops – young and old and everything in between. Imagine a party with all your best friends and that was the energy that surrounded this festival. From the bands to the fans, from the security guards to the vendors – the joy of shaking off the shackles of the last year and a half was plainly evident no matter where you looked.


Photo Cred: Steve Thrasher / Danny Wimmer Presents

Each day’s line-up was top-notch, and it was tough for fans, me included, to get from stage to stage in time to secure a prime spot near the front. Many simply stayed put for the day and inched their way up while others made the trek back and forth. Must-see bands on Friday were New Year’s Day, Ice Nine Kills, Mastodon, and the day’s closer, Slipknot. Steel Panther took the stage and introduced fans to temporary bass player Silky Pocket, while Michael and Satchel played grab ass and settled into a familiar routine of raunchy humor and bad-ass songs. The most interesting performance of the day came from Badflower. Lead singer Josh Katz took the stage and told the crowd that his laryngitis would prevent him from singing during their set but that they would jam anyway. They played familiar tunes, asking the crowd to sing along, then broke out into a Woodstock-inspired jam of Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Ohio”. Their performance, even though it was entirely instrumental, was one of the highlights of the day.


Photo Cred: Steve Thrasher / Danny Wimmer Presents

There was a slight delay in Saturday’s start and then a few technical issues with sound, but September Mourning’s Emily Lazar kept performing through it all and wowed the fans with her smashing vocals. Later that afternoon, everything stopped for a moment of silence to mark the anniversary of 911, followed by a stirring performance of the National Anthem by Cincinnati-native Kala Rose of Saving Escape. There were quite a few bands that I would watch for a bit before leaving to get back over to the other stage for the next one up; there really was something for everyone at this festival. Highlights included Bad Omens, Pop Evil and fan-favorite Chevelle, whose song “Joyride” brought out the crowd-surfers en masse. One of my favorites of the day was Diamante and I’m glad that I took the time to walk over to the other stage to catch her performance. The band was tight, and Diamante’s vocals sounded spot-on, especially during “War Cry”. As I moved away from the stage to catch the next band, I heard several fans comment how “bad-ass” they sounded. High praise, indeed! The evening’s final band, Mudvayne, took the stage after a ten year hiatus to a crowd that was more than ready to welcome them back. Opening their set with “Not Falling”, they immediately grabbed the fans and didn’t let go until the final notes of “World So Cold”. It was an outstanding performance and a great end to the day’s music lineup.


Photo Cred: Steve Thrasher / Danny Wimmer Presents

I slowed my pace a little on Sunday and checked out some of the vendors, where I discovered quite a lot of creative clothing and other items to fill my tote. The Skulldollz were face painting, airbrushing, and glittering up fans for free, bringing smiles and positive energy to the event. Although I didn’t opt to get a tattoo, I did take a tour of the Mansfield Reformatory, otherwise known as “the Shawshank Prison”. The tour was self-guided, and we were able to travel through the cellblocks, the warden’s quarters, and the chapel at our own pace. Finishing the tour, I walked outside and ran right into a wedding under the front archway. Newlywed couple Eric and Barb met at the festival two years ago and decided to come back and make it all official, so they enlisted the help of rock ‘n roll Reverend Vernon and shared this momentous occasion with all of us. Does music bring us all together? In this case, I would say a resounding “yes!”


Photo Cred: Steve Thrasher / Danny Wimmer Presents

The lineup on the final day was just as jam-packed as the rest – starting with Fever 333, who brought a little girl up on stage, pointing out that she and the other young kids were “the future, our future” and that we should protect them so they could keep the music going. Adding “we don’t hurt each other, we stand together” they brought the house down with “Out of Control” and “Burn It”. Beartooth took the stage with an incredibly strong set that included a really great performance of “Disease” which brought fans to their feet. As the sun set on the horizon, Halestorm took the stage to a crowd that showed no signs of fatigue after three long days in the sun. Starting with “Freak Like Me”, Lzzy had the crowd jumping, singing, clapping along with her incredibly clear vocals. “Love Bites” and “I Get Off” sounded fantastic as well and the fans continued to roar their approval throughout the set. Finishing with “I Miss the Misery”, Halestorm left everything they had on stage. And as the night turned an inky black, it was time for headliner Rob Zombie, who roared onto the stage with “The Triumph of King Freak”. It was a non-stop, in your face, no-holds-barred, monsters of metal party and the fans that stayed until the end were rewarded with an outstanding performance -- one they’re unlikely to ever forget.


Photo Cred: Steve Thrasher / Danny Wimmer Presents


Photo Cred: Steve Thrasher / Danny Wimmer Presents