FESTIVAL REVIEW: INKCARCERATION FESTIVAL 2019 Live at Ohio State Reformatory – Day 3 (Sunday)
With blisters on both feet and bodies screaming from head to toe, we decided early on that on this last day, we’d slow down some as we wanted to be able to visit the tattoo booths on the reformatory upper floor. So while the newly added Adrift On River Styx opened up, we made our way upstairs to the tattoo booths. While every artist/booth were booked solid, everyone we stopped to chat with and take photos of were overly friendly and informative. Overall, the only downside of many artists’ experiences was that even though fans were willing to part with high dollars ( up to $350/hr) for some outstanding skin art, the profit margin was bleak. Due to the high cost of booth rental, travel and such, breaking even became a norm. Hopefully next year this will be addressed and the artists will profit handsomely for the quality of work provided.
The honky-tonk metal sounds of Scattered Hamlet got our sluggish and tired blood flowing on this clear sky morning. One part Lynyrd Skynyrd and with a little Molly Hatchett thrown in, and featuring heavy rock elements similar to Motorhead or Down. With a relentless touring schedule of 150+ shows/40 states yearly, these good ole boys make no apologies for the equal love of Harleys, shotguns and classic American symbolism. Los Angeles based dark pop/rock genre Rivals fronted by Kalie Wolfe with accompanying members Sebastian Chamberlain (bass), guitarist Mickey Woodle, and Josh Alves on the kit, wasted no time thrashing the early morning crowd with 5 short yet powerful numbers, including “Damned Soul” from their latest album ‘Damned Soul’ (Feb. 2018).
After an extended break to eat, use of the facilities and a lame attempt to rest our crackling bones, we once again were set to go as Starset was set to hit the stage at 4:45, and this was one band we didn’t want to miss. Unlike 2 years ago when Starset sported their astronaut costumes (ROTR 2017), this year they came on stage dressed in post-apocalyptic garb, much like the folks in the Mad Max films. Formed in 2013 and hailing from Columbus, Ohio, and with two dynamic discs to their credit – ‘Transmission’ (debut, 2014) and ‘Vessels’ (Jan. 2017), as well as a hit single “My Demons” (280 million YouTube views), and commercially successful single “Monster” peaked at #2 on Billboard. Besides the four actual members – Dustin Bates (vocals/keyboard), Ron DeChant (bass/keyboards), Brock Richards (lead guitar), and Adam Gilbert (drums), they were joined by two lovely violinists Mariko Muranaka and Siobhan Cronin, who were brought on the 2019 tour. These two ladies, one playing the cello, and the other a violin, were the focal point of not only the photographers but fans alike. Beginning with “Unbecoming” and wrapping up their 8 song setlist with “My Demons”, Starset captivated all attending with their unique style of cinematic rock, influenced by the likes of Linkin’ Park, Thirty Seconds To Mars, and Nine Inch Nails.
With only minutes to spare due to watching Starset’s full set, we plowed through the masses to witness From Ashes to New, as they hit the second stage for high energy and dynamic performance. I have seen them a few times in the past, but never on a small stage surrounded by masses of fans like this day. While delivering hits such as “Crazy”, “My Name”, and “Through It All”, frontman Danny Case sang not only TO the crowd but also IN the crowd as he made his way to the railings to sing with the fans. I Prevail, out of Detroit, delivered a crushing performance on the main stage next, enticing all with tracks from not only their debut album ‘Linelines’ (Oct. 2016), but also a few from their recent album release ‘Trauma’ (March 2019) as well. The crowd were more than happy to sing along with their favorites, likely thanks to a steady increase in airtime on Sirius. Definitely a band on the rise, be sure to check out I Prevail whenever they are in your area.
Up next was one of my all-time favorites, P.O.D., an American Christian nu-metal band formed in San Diego, CA. Of all the bands covered this epic weekend, it was P.O.D. that not only got the crowd up and dancing/singing along to their modest set, but it was noticeable that the pit photographers were head-bopping and having difficulty shooting the band while doing so. Sonny Sandoval was energized unlike most witnessed at INKCARCERATION FESTIVAL 2019 up to this point, as he ran and jumped around constantly – especially when P.O.D. played their classic hits “Boom”, “Youth Of A Nation” and their closing number “Alive”. The crowd interaction went beyond exceptional, and once they played their last tune, their diehard fan base were left mesmerized and wanting more. After the show, we had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with drummer Wuv Bernardo, a talented and most humble musician. Following P.O.D. (who closed the side stage performances) was the ever-elusive (to photographers) Seether. Founded in May of 1999 in Pretoria Gauteng, South Africa, this hard rock band came bringing their A-Game with an extended setlist covering their 20 years together. Frontman Shaun Morgan, known to shy away from photographers and who rarely smiles, was witnessed many times during their show smiling ear-to-ear as they played “Fine Again”, and their classic “Broken” to a crowd hanging on his every word. Seether was without a doubt a trip down memory lane, playing several songs from their 7 studio albums, the most recent in 2017 – ‘Poison The Parish’.
Ending not only the day but INKCARCERATION FESTIVAL 2019, the next band is no stranger to any of us hardcore metal fans. Las Vegas is more than proud to be the home of 5FDP (Five Finger Death Punch) since 2005, with an endless list of nominations and awards. With the largest selection of swag at their merch booth and the largest crowd of the weekend, there was absolutely no doubt that 5FDP was the band everyone was waiting for. Kicking off an impressive 17 song set, they slammed the crowd as they opened with a flashbang explosion that startled many as the elaborate light show kept the fast-paced band on point. Ivan Moody with a painted face, minus his infamous ball-bat, was beyond exemplary, similar to a phoenix rising from the ashes. In 2018 drummer Jeremy Spencer was replaced with Charlie Engen, and while Engen may have lacked in the outrageous antics/facial expressions, he surely made up for it with his skin pounding, keeping 5FDP on the beat and was their driving force. Around the 4th song (“Sham Pain”, I believe) they set off a massive canon of confetti, covering not only that upfront but Moody himself. Soon after Moody called for the Mansfield Police as well as available security people to the stage, to show appreciation and recognition for their dedicated service to not only the festival but to the community as well. 5FDP also did two covers – “Bad Company” (Bad Company) and “Blue On Black” (Kenny Wayne Shepard), both received graciously by the sold-out crowd. Although Jason Hook (lead guitar) shredded and played like a master of his craft, it was somewhat noticeable that he may have not been feeling well based upon his facial expressions on the big screen. Chris Kael (bass) was more stationery than usual during their performance on this night but took time to play up to the photographers including Ivan’s father, who graced the photo pit shooting alongside Harry Reese (5FDP personal videographer/photographer). In my opinion, 5FDP was a fantastic, if not THE best choice to close INKCARCERATION FESTIVAL 2019, and rather certain that all attending would hands-down agree!
Summarizing this remarkable 3-day event needs to be done in stages, as INKCARCERATION FESTIVAL is a one of a kind spectacular adventure with so much more than simply music. The festival layout was well thought out, with both stages within an estimated 500’ from each other, expediating the transition between the two. The merch vendors on the hill facing the mainstage offered a vast array of swag, free complimentary Swisher Sweet and Optimo cigars/cigarillos at their booths, also offered small spots of shade from the blazing sun while engaging in some fun cornhole toss and prize-winning basketball toss. And there’s the FOOD! If it wasn’t for my partner’s obsession with ‘Island Noodles’ , we’d have had a difficult time in choosing food sources for our belly…simply too many to choose from! Judging by the length of the lines of attendees at each food truck/trailer, there was no doubt that every vendor had something for every craving, and at a decent price. What other festival have you attended where there are tours of a historically notorious penitentiary, which is said to be haunted even to this day? None that I can think of! Or how about a festival housing nearly 70 talented and sought-after tattoo artists? Never. In short, whether you’re young or old, this festival has/had something for everyone! With just under 13,000 attending Friday and both Saturday and Sunday sold out (18,000 max.), INKCARCERATION FESTIVAL 2019 was a complete success. I don’t know about all of you, but the two of us that were chosen to cover this epic event will certainly be looking forward to the 3rd Annual INKCARCERATION FESTIVAL regardless of the 3-day lineup. I can only imagine who will headline next year, but surely will have their hands full competing with this year’s lineup!
Well played INKCARCERATION FESTIVAL 2019…we’ll see you next year – rain or shine!