Mansfield, OH (July 13, 2018) – It had started, INKcarceration – this was day one. Less than a year’s planning went into this massive undertaking. This would be the inagural year for these promoters at this location, and what a spectacular location it is. Music is no stranger to the Ohio State Reformatory. In fact, for the previous three years a local festival took place here as well, featuring many local bands, as well as some national acts. This year however, was a lineup featuring mostly national touring acts, one local act making it to the stage via a Columbus area Battle of the Bands contest, and three out-of-state bands making the roster via a ReverbNation battle of the bands.
The Ohio State Reformatory has also been host to many musicians filming music videos at this location including Lil Wayne’s Go DJ, Moonshine Bandits‘ (feat. David Allan Coe) Take This Job, Godsmack’s Awake, Motograter’s Dorian, and many more. In fact the aforementioned David Allan Coe actually did time in this prison, and filmed some scenes from the exact cell he occupied decades ago.
Of course we would be remiss if we did not mention the first thing that comes to one’s mind when viewing the prison for the first time. Red and Andy. The Shawshank Redemption. One of the best movies of all time was filmed on location in these hallowed halls that feature six-stories of spine-chilling, empty and disheveled prison cells. This fact was not lost on the musicians as almost every single band had a mention of sorts about the fact and how amazing it was to be here. If you are interested in some more reading, you can find an entire list of films and videos here.
The prison also features Blood Prison, a haunted attraction that runs in the fall and throughout Halloween. Plenty of actors from the haunt were roaming the grounds throughout the day, putting some concert goers on edge. As you can assume, there was plenty to do without including music and tattoos, but music and tattoos were the center point of the weekend.
The rear portion of the prison feature two massive halls packed with tattoo artists awaiting fresh skin. You could make an appointment, or just drop by a booth and hang out, until they were ready for the next one ready to go under the needle. The buzz of tattoo guns filled the areas, as many perused the large collection of flash most of these artists had on display. Featuring over 70 of the area’s and region’s top tattoo artists, there was something for everyone, in many styles. You could finally boast that you got a tattoo in prison… well if that’s something you’ve been wanting to do.
Pop Punk ReverbNation battle of the bands winner Avenues was the very first band to play the INKcarceration festival with their original songs reminiscient of 2000’s punk. A sizable crowd had gathered in front of the second stage to catch this Milwaukee, WI, band. The band, as recorded, is made up of Vin Smith (Vocals, Guitar), Shawn Brooks (Guitar), Scott Brooks (Bass), Marc Perez (Drums). Marc was not present due to battling a recent illness. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Marc with expenses #letsgetmarcbackontheroad.
Punk would be an overwhelming common thread for many of the bands today, and Avenues did the job of setting the pace right out of the gate. Check out their website link below to listen to some of their tunes!
Although today had a punk vibe, the overall theme for the weekend was rock, hard and heavy, with plenty of attitude. It did not take long for the festival to appeal to the heaviest of rockers in the crowd. Bad Omens opened up things on the main stage like a blast from a canon with their metalcore sound straight out of Los Angeles, CA.
Noah Sebastian (Vocals), Nicholas Ruffilo (Guitar), Joakim Karlsson (Guitar), and Nick Folio (Drums) got the crowd moving with some moshing, showing us a sign that this crowd meant business. Bad Omens are out in support of their latest self-titled release Bad Omens (2016). Featuring the tracks Glass Houses, Exit Wounds, and The Worst In Me, these four serve up some awesome, melodic metalcore.
Mina Caputo (Vocals), Joey Z (Guitar), Alan Robert (Bass), and Veronica Bellino (Drums) make up the Hard Rock/Metal band Life of Agony. Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, you can definately hear a huge New York influence in their music. Their second stage, thirty-minute set featured recent and past hits. Rooted in the nineties, the biggest response from the crowd was This Time, one of their early hits
They served up their music with plenty of attitude, and even some friendly advice on staying hydrated, as Mina approached the front of the stage and proceeded to empty her bottle of water onto the front row.
Check out A Place Where There’s No More Pain (2017) which is a refreshing rock album that reminds you a little of their previous stuff, but a little more leaning on a grunge sound.
Next up, the Main stage featured Of Mice and Men from Orange County, California. Hitting the Metalcore scene in 2010, they have blazed a path and are a solid mainstay in the scene.
Aaron Pauley (Bass, Vocals), Valentino Arteaga (Drums), Philip Manansala (Guitar), and Alan Ashby (Guitar) make up this four-piece power house. If you have never seen them live, the powerful hammering drums of Valentino seems to be the center of their live sound. As the kick drum fires away with speed and clarity, the dual guitar attack of Philip and Alan give the dynamic only a dual guitar attack can. Aaron keeps things in the pocket as he plucks the bass and keeps his vocals bouncing from melodic to gruff.
Check out their latst release, Defy (2018) which they are currently out on tour supporting. With songs like Back to Me and Unbreakable, Of Mice and Men are staking a permanant claim to their spot in the metalcore landscape.
As the music from Of Mice and Men continued to bellow from the main stage, “The Govna” Bryce Graves was up on the podium at the entrance to the big top tent. The carnival barker was setting up the crowd as to what was to come. Stiff warnings were barked from atop his perch, which some took as just a ploy to get the crowd fired up. How crazy can Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow Revue actually be?
Although we found it thoroughly entertaining, one patron in the crowd passed out, and medics quickly swept them away. Was it the fire breathing, hooks in the eyes, the eating of razor blades, or the power drill into the face that did it? One will never know, but there were no lack of emotions. From grimmaces, to laughter, the crowd was into everything that was going on. Bryce and his cronies, Nik Sin (World’s Smallest Escape Artist), Short E. Dangerously (Half Man, Daredevil), Ryan Stock (Sword swallowing and more), Amber Lynn and more were there to rock you and shock you.
There was plenty to enjoy, all with colorful and fun banter. We did not share everything, it’s all on you to catch this troupe next time they’re in your area to find out the other craziness that happens under the big top.
It was now time for Lit. The Fullerton, California natives are out supporting their latest release Good Problem to Have (2018) – which is Country. Wait, what? Yes, their latest release is Country, and it is an absolute fine album. With Country and Mainstream Rock crossing paths and blending together over the last decade, Lit took a swing at another genre, and knocked it out of the park. Staying with the fun-in-the-sun feel, both styles fit really well in their live set.
A.Jay Popoff (Vocals), Jeremy Popoff (Guitar), Kevin Baldes (Bass), Evan Kilbourne (Drums) took the headlining spot on the second stage to the top. With hits like My Own Worst Enemy and Miserable, they had a huge crowd gathered around the stage as fans were singing along to the popular hits. As the sun was approaching the horizon the crowd continued to cheer for the older hits and newer hit songs from Good Problem to Have. This was a good preview of the 90’s and 2000’s rock we would experience on Saturday, and it certainly got everyone excited.
Jeremy McKinnon (Vocals), Neil Westfall (Guitar), Joshua Woodard (Bass), Kevin Skaff (Guitar), and Alex Shelnutt (Drums) make up A Day to Remember. From Ocala, Florida, they were here and ready to get this crowd as fired up as possible. Crowd surfers and light moshing started immediately upon the first guitar riff. Their Punk Pop brought a youthful feel to today’s lineup, and their Metalcore styled songs brought the heat. Performed with attitude mixed with smiles, there was no shortage of crowdsurfing music.
At one point Jeremy called upon the fans to actually “surf”, calling for fans to stand up and surf on the back of another crowd surfer. They obliged in a big way. A wave of arms, legs, hands, heads and bodies surfed and tumbled from the back of the crowd towards the stage with a continous onslaught of fans up top.
Bad Vibrations (2016) is A Day to Remember‘s latest album. Featuring the singles Bad Vibrations, Paranoia, and Naivety it gave Jeremy and crew plenty of ammunition when coupled with their older hits, to put on one stellar high-energy show that left the crowd sweaty, dirty, and a little bit bruised.
The temperatures had subsided a bit by this point in the evening, and the lack of sun permeating the skin was a welcomed change, although you could still feel the heat radiating up from your body. Rise Against took the stage with their Punk Rock style all the way from Chicago, IL. Out in support of their latest release Wolves (2017) these rockers headlined Friday’s festivities. As the sun was set, the stage lights were up, and Tim McIlarth (Vocals, Guitar), Joe Principe (Bass), Brandon James (Drums), and Zach Blair (Guitar) were here to close out the very first day of INKCarceration.
Playing their lengthy set they weaved in and out of many of their favorites, giving the crowd as much as they could handle after a long hot day. Rise Against are currently gearing up to release The Ghost Note Symphonies, Vol. 1 (2018) and have a few songs from that new album available as a pre-release singles.
The night was finished. Seven bands had collectively put on one stellar show. It seems this day was set up with a youthful feel, with Saturday having a nineties feel, and Sunday being a Metalhead’s dream. The tatooing, sideshows, and tours of the grounds, really puts this festival in a class of its own.
Although it was the shortest day of the three, the crowd was packed in, showing us this was the beginning of a new tradition right here at the Ohio State Reformatory. What a great place for an event like this. The history and lore of the building this is held in front of, is like non-other. The glee in the singer’s voices when they talked about being at Shawshank – that says it all. Can you think of another venue that would be fitting to such a grand festival? We can’t.
A haunted prison that one really needs to visit to truly appreciate. That first step out from the Chapel onto the East cell block stairwell sends a chill down your spine, weaking your knees. If these walls could talk, I’m not sure you would want to hear the story. Although they might say something about “See you tomorrow, Saturday is going to be awesome.” Prison walls doing a PR pitch – it could happen!