Review by Sean Matthews (Gallery Credit – Steve Thrasher).
Usually when the word ‘Prison‘ comes up in conversation, you tend to think the worst things possible, but Danny Wimmer and his team at Danny Wimmer Presents are making it so not only criminals go to jail.
A small town in Northern Ohio, about an hour south of Cleveland, known forever as the filming location of blockbuster hit ‘The Shawshank Redemption‘ has found itself thrust into the heavy metal and rock world. Mansfield, Ohio is a picturesque rural town, with a population of approx. 46,000 residents, and is the home of the ‘Ohio State Reformatory.’ Built in the late 1800’s it housed criminals until its decommissioning in 1990.
In 2015, local organizers created a Tattoo Festival, called Ink in The Clink, which featured bands performing on stages outside while tattoo artists inked clients inside the prison walls. Fast forward, and we have Inkcarceration, which in 2021 saw DWP join forces with the Reformatory to create a destination weekend. After a record setting turnout last year, it was no surprise DWP returned once again, with major changes to layout, and experiences enhancing an already phenomenal idea.
Site – The concept is simple… Multiple stages outside with world class heavy metal and rock bands playing all weekend, while more than 70 professional tattoo artists ink attendees inside the walls of the prison.
Parking the first day was hard to navigate, not at any fault of the organizers, but more of the city planner, who literally had every road, highway and exit leading to the grounds under construction. Tack in a freight train switching tracks for more than an hour, and it was easy to understand why people had their windows down and were partying in the streets for hours before even tailgating in the parking lots.
Walking in, you have to clear security, and once given the good-to-go, you enter into what I would call a market type area, where vendors were set up and a monstrous merchandise tent was selling both event merch, as well as individual band merch. Heading around that, you were greeted by a tented VIP area, and side-by-side main stages. Situated on flat ground in front of the prison the layout was ideal, because there was a hill where fans could sit and watch comfortably or run up and get into the pits for some chaos if they choose.
Along the entire exterior of the area were food and drinks vendors, so nothing was ever out of reach all weekend.
Walking around the main stages, more vendors were placed along the trail to the third stage. The entrance to the prison was front and center with lines for a normal tour, a ‘Blood‘ tour (which is a haunted house), as well as the entrance to the tattoo wing.
(Gallery Credit – Lexie Alley)
Gates opened at 11am, and music rang into the air around 11:30am. Fans were still navigating the parking situation but could hear the sounds of openers Sour Blood, Oxymorons and Spoken. Born Of Osiris being the first to wake the mosh pits, followed by DED and From Ashes To New who kept them going. Italian natives Lacuna Coil brought an amazing stage presence, with lead singer Cristina Scabbia continuously moving about and interacting with the crowd.
Code Orange came out hard, and left it all on the stage, before Sleeping With Sirens took us on a trip in time back to our Warped Tour days with lead singer Kellin Quinn sounding like he did all those years ago. With sets lasting only 30 minutes all day, it seemed more like a greatest hits day as we shuffled through artists.
Rock legends Daughtry were the first to get almost an hour, and used its entirety playing fan favorites, as well as covering Alice In Chains ‘Man In The Box.’ Immediately after, I Prevail came out swinging with songs off their newly released album ‘True Power,’ as well as older hits that had the mosh pits open up and total pandemonium ensue.
Papa Roach closed one main stage but ran across to the empty second one while lead singer Jacoby Shaddix make jokes about being the only band to play both stages at the same time. As daylight seemed to fade away, headliners Korn took to the stage, and for more than an hour and a half, fans sang along, moshed and crowd surfed to their favorite songs spanning Korn’s entire discography.
The weather was perfect and getting into the parking was easy. Crowds were setting up tailgating outside the grounds, and music rang out at 11:30am signaling the start of another amazing day of music.
Widow7 and Among The Stars opened up the main stages respectively, allowing the festival to fill a bit before Volumes got the crowd going. Adam Gontier lead singer of Saint Asonia played songs from both his current band, as well as his previous band Three Days Grace giving old school fans an extra special treat.
Canadian metal band Spiritbox while new to the scene, made it look easy, with lead singer Courtney LaPlante belting out clean and dirty vocals seamlessly as if there were two of her on stage. Swedish heavy metal band Avatar came out swinging with their hit ‘Hail The Apocalypse’ and headbanged their way through 45 minutes of straight hits.
Theory Of A Deadman and Black Label Society both played amazing sets filled with hit songs with Zakk Wylde laying out amazing solos throughout their set.
What had to be the band of the night for most was Falling In Reverse! With new hit single ‘Voices In My Head’ (which live debuted at Inkcarceration) in full radio play leading up to today, lead singer Ronnie Radke left it all on the stage. Throughout their 14-song set that touched on every album in their discography, there were moments where the crowd was too thick, and a pause had to happen to relieve some heat and stress on the fans. Taking a few minutes to get people help and get the crowd to push back Ronnie Radke stepped up to made sure everyone there would be able to enjoy the show and still make it home that night.
Falling In Reverse is known for crowd surfers and mosh pits… and the crowd didn’t disappoint on either. A never-ending waterfall of fans barraged the security the whole 55 minutes as crowd surfers had to adjust routes to not fall into the various mosh pits scattered amongst the crowd.
Evanescence closed out the second main stage tonight. Amy Lee worked the crowd, even getting a few sing alongs where the crowd overpowered the microphone.
Closing out this evening was Breaking Benjamin. Over the course of their hour and a half set, lead singer Benjamin Burley took breaks and allowed his fellow band mates to take charge on lead vocals from time to time. For song ‘Dance With The Devil’ Adam Gontier (Saint Asonia, Three Days Grace) joining them on stage to sing. Their 19-song setlist spanned all 6 albums and an EP playing only the top hits from each, then ending with one of their most famous songs, ‘Diary Of Jane.’
After two glorious days of beautiful weather and sunshine the skies opened up and a light rain began. Pulling into the parking lot, you could tell the grassy hills were not expecting today and event staff were solidifying roadway issues early on. Tents were still set up and only the most die-hard tailgaters braved the wind and rain before heading inside after a brief doors open setback due to weather.
Gemini Syndrome opened the main stages today to a smaller crowd who were willing to stand in the rain early on to catch some amazing bands. Butcher Babies and Veil of Maya all saw bigger crowds as more people trickled in wearing ponchos and carrying umbrellas.
John 5 and 10 years were the last groups to play in a 4-hour time span that saw in 11 bands playing on 3 stages overlapping. There was something to be seen or heard in every corner for those 4 hours, and by the time Jelly Roll hit the stage most of the crowd were onsite.
Jelly Roll who has been playing side stages at DWP festivals for years, was finally given the main stage, front and center and so rightfully deserved! Writing songs in every genre, his discography covers everything from Rap and Country to Rock ‘n Roll.
Texas natives Nothing More brought the fan in Mother Nature as the rain came down a bit harder and wasn’t letting up. That didn’t stop this 4-piece from giving it all they had. Throughout their 10-song set fans could be heard singing along with newest single ‘Tire Of Winning’ as well as fan favorite ‘Jenny.’
I would have had to assume Mother Nature is most definitely a Black Veil Brides fan, because by the time they took the stage it was more or less a monsoon… With no lightning in sight, the show went on, and when Andy Biersack and the boys from just down the highway in Cincinnati, Ohio stepped on stage, fans went berserk. We had mud pit slip and slides, mosh mud pits, and everyone was completely drenched through. The rain came down sideways with gusts of winds, which made umbrellas useless. I spent 3 songs in the pit taking photos with rain gear, and still walked out of their soaked to the flesh.
At this point, some people decided enough was enough and headed for the main gates and back to their car. The die-hards toughed it out knowing that the best was yet to come.
Seether and Lamb Of God played to a dwindling crowd, but still saw good a turnout considering the overall weather situation for the day. The skies started to open and Disturbed hit the stage to close out another successful festival. Laying right into hit single ‘Ten Thousand Fists‘ Disturbed wasted no time getting the crowd pumped and singing along. Hit after hit, their 14-song set was comprised of newest single ‘Hey You‘ as well as hit covers like ‘Land Of Confusion‘ and ‘The Sound Of Silence.’ Ending with a 2-song encore finalized by major hit ‘Down With The Sickness‘ most fans by this point could laugh in the irony that standing outside in the cold, rain-soaked weather all day pretty much meant by mid-week the following week, they most definitely would be ‘Down With The Sickness.’
At some point on Sunday, one would have thought that the masterminds behind DWP would have pulled the plug and sent us all rushing back out to our cars for safety’s sake. But, in reality, unlike festivals that happened early in the year (where lightning was a MAJOR factor) the lack of thunder and lightning in the area let the show continue.
I’ve attended multiple shows where lightning strikes so close you would think it was a stage effect, and when people are ushered to the safety mere moments before a tropical storm passes through, they get angry like its all a money grab. Well, this weekend, rain and all went as planned, with almost no setbacks on the promoter’s side, and all in all it was worth every penny.
All in All INKCARCERATION is becoming a staple event in the Midwest, putting the small town of Mansfield, Ohio on the map for years to come, as fans make the trek from all over the world to see what more a prison has to offer than just putting people behind bars.
To keep up to date with the newest information or to score you own tickets to next year’s event, which is already on sale and selling fast, head over to their official website HERE