The weather on Friday was wet and rainy but that didn't stop the steady flow of tattoo enthusiast and punk fans from trickling through the front gate of the Orange County Fair Grounds to attend the 6th annual Musink Tattoo Convention and Music Fest. The first thing you notice is the food court on your right, dominating a large patch of grass and offering guests plenty of greasy hot dogs, spicy wings and an abundance of $13 beers.
If your appetite or wallet isn't in the mood, make your way towards the event halls, labeled The Music and The Ink, respectively. On the way to the entrance you'll pass the Skateboard Competition, which, at 6 pm on the first day of the convention, looks to be little more than a couple of skaters trying to land a few basic tricks. Come back tomorrow and maybe you'll see someone finally land that manual big spin out, to nose blunt shove-it out. But ink awaits, so, Onward!
Sheltered from the cold, inside the convention center (more like large hall) the first thing you notice is the heat of hundreds of bustling bodies and the subtly-persistent yet somehow all-pervading buzzing in the air: the familiar sound of hundreds of tattoo machines at work, busily inking the flesh of people who love themselves some ink. Depending on the day, you can walk up and down these aisles and see some of the biggest names in the industry. Today, maybe it's Franco Vescovi of The Vatican doing a back piece, tomorrow, perhaps it's tattoo icon Freddy Negrete executing a perfect Willy Wonka (a la Gene Wilder) portrait. Where the tables aren't littered with business cards, you'll find plenty of flash books and artist portfolios.
Go ahead, take a look, but your attention will likely be drawn to the tattooing going on beyond the table. While some tattoo fans are getting small work done on their bicep, thigh, hand or neck, many of them lie prone on cushioned chairs, half naked, getting the latest addition to their full back or full chest pieces done by the industry's best local (and not-so-local) artists (Phillip Spearman from Inkworks comes to mind, the back piece he was working on was pretty impressive).
Beyond the artists you'll find plenty of tattoo merch - clothing from Cartel, machine and ink suppliers, even a few booths hawking bail bonds. Don't forget the Sullen Collective, who have their hands in everything. Maybe you don't want a tattoo, but you want some art - don't worry, there's plenty of prints for sale. And if you did just get a tattoo done, you might want to check out booths like Ohana Organics' to get some great aftercare product.
Meanwhile, ignore the brigade from the sheriff's department snaking their way down the aisles and sip on your G-Pen. Everyone else is (when they aren't chugging their beer, worth every penny). G-Pen even had a booth set up.
But let's not forget that plenty of people came here for the music too. So let's recap.
The Vandals' set, although enthusiastic and sincere, was too short. The sound during Bad Religion's performance was terrible, and I love Bad Religion. T.S.O.L reminded us youngsters of today that the punk generation of yore still has plenty of steam behind them and Lagwagon did their part to encite the pit and amp the crowd up for Pennywise. Growing up right next door to Hermosa Beach (Redondo) it was great to see Jim and Fletcher take the stage and not waste a minute before launching forth into their explosive set. Fletcher did his Fletcher thing and reminded us the government sucks. Lucero, a mellow, country-ish band seemed to have gotten lost and ended up at the wrong fest. Good music though.
Expensive beers. Initially bad sound for some huge bands. Plenty of talent and hot chicks (Miss MusInk!!!). Yea, we'll be back next year.