Under new management this year, Inkcarceration Festival has made quite the splash in the world of rock and metal. The haunted prison based festival has been around for a few years, just on a smaller scale. When Danny Wimmer took this project under his umbrella this year, there definitely were going to be major additions and improvements made to the festival as well as keeping a lot of the original aspects of the festival the same. I had the privilege of attending this year with weekend VIP passes. As a first festival back for many people it was sure to be a hell of a weekend and provide many stories to tell…
For starters, this festival was sold out for the entire weekend which was music to our ears. I flew in for the fest the night before it began, landed at 6:30 am and then headed to the festival with three friends that I went with. I made sure to load up on caffeine because I knew that day one was going to be like running a marathon. Going into it, we had a list and schedule of who we wanted to see, what stage, what time, and whether or not we can sacrifice skipping their sets. We got their fairly early and were able to have almost front row parking which at the time seemed awesome, we will get into those details later… My friend Jake and I headed to will call to snag our wristbands for the weekend, and low and behold while he was getting the wristbands I noticed none other than Danny Wimmer himself…in the flesh…in his element…just standing there being unbothered by anything. Naturally, like the fangirl I am, I went to go bother him and speak with him. We spoke for a minute or two and Jake introduced himself as well. As we decided to go back to the line, Mr. Wimmer pulled us toward the gate by the security checkpoint of the festival and let us in to SKIP the never-ending line.
Arriving that first day, we were just so happy to be back at a festival, let alone one of this magnitude. We made sure to familiarize ourselves with the festival grounds and see where everything that was interesting to us was located at. For Jake and I, the VIP only restrooms were a highlight for us. Our daily schedule had us stationed at the main stage all day. We started our day off with THE heaviest band of the weekend, Spite. These guys are some of the dopest deathcore musicians out there today. Darius Tehrani is one of the most energetic front men I have ever witnessed, with titanium vocal cords to say the least. After a monster set like that, we all grabbed a bite to eat and watched New Years Day put on a good performance, Ash Costello sounded spot on like recording which was great to hear. Badflower vocalist Josh came out before the set started and announced that he had laryngitis and could not sing but the band played their whole set and let the crowd of thousands sing all the words instead which made for quite an interesting energy. Ice Nine Kills came out after them and just destroyed, top 5 performances of the weekend for sure. They packed their set full of new songs that the radio has been riddled with as well as older stuff for the fans who have been around for a minute. Steel Panther provided some serious comic relief along with some nostalgic sounding hair metal songs. Although they joke around and make fun, these guys can play and perform so well. Killswitch Engage plays a ton of festivals and for good reason, they have been around for more than 20 years so they have a huge catalog that is filled with familiar metal anthems. Every time I have seen them I have sat their banging my head screaming all the words. Mastodon was a band that I only really knew one song well, the set they put on hurt my puny musician brain. The time changes, tempo changes, and key changes flooded the air and did a number on me. I sort of sat there jaw dropped, awestruck really. These were some of the tightest musicians I had ever seen. Then after what felt like an eternity, the curtain dropped and there stood Slipknot. The metal band of my generation, years of waiting to see them paid off and I could not be happier with their performance. The only complaint I had from that day was that there was no one to direct the literal thousands of cars in the parking lot afterwards. Danny Hayes had that issue fixed the very next morning.
Saturday was our light day so we took the chance at the beginning of the day to take a tour of the prison and check out where all of our favorite scenes from The Shawshank Redemption were filmed. Spent a little too much money at the merch tent and on a few *cough* beverages in the VIP lounge. The first band we checked out was Bad Omens, who I expected to be good but were very impressive. They ended their set with the brutal song Dethrone that made the crowd kick up a sinful amount of dirt. Crown The Empire crushed it after them, I often would forget that they were on the bill. Not because I did not think much of it but, my mind was stuck on so many other things. Andy’s vocals and energy blew me away. My only complaint was that they did not play Red Pills but, I guess that just means I have to go see them again. After quite a break of resting while bands played in the back, we were excited for Asking Alexandria until we found out they were not playing because their tour bus broke down. We pushed forward after Pop Evil so we could be close for Chevelle who were awesome, I had seen them before and was not too impressed but I think that was because of the venue. Now, the performance of the weekend came from none other than A Day To Remember, they’re a band who I had been meaning to see for a long time and I was completely blown away with the show they put on. There was streamers, rolls of toilet paper being thrown, confetti, as many mosh pits as I have ever seen, and people crowd surfing on top of other people crowd surfing. Their energy, tightness, and setlist variety was perfect. Easily, the best set of the entire weekend. Mudvayne played their first show in over ten years which was exciting to be a part of. They came out in full makeup which was to be expected, aside from the general excitement of them being there, not much about their performance was too impressive. Ryan Martinie is one of the best bass players of all time which was awesome to see but, Chad’s voice has not held up too well. Their other performance a month later at Aftershock was much better from what I heard and saw.
Sunday, our last day at the first festival back. Bittersweet, but it was a great way to end the weekend. Our two friends that accompanied us the first two days did not buy Sunday passes so, it was just Jake and myself. We started our day off watching Stitched Up Heart who has been making their presence known more and more with every release. They were impressive, even watching from the VIP stands off to the side. Then we same out to watch a couple songs from The Devil Wears Prada which was cool, definitely veterans in the Ohio metalcore world. Then Wage War was up next for us. We had watched them before, two years earlier and enjoyed it. This time around, we knew mostly every song they played and were up close. They were fantastic, they did their Wage War thing which consisted of hurting our necks from headbanging, melting faces with riffs, and making us scream our lungs out. Now, my little stretch of Heaven began with Wage War because after them was Motionless In White. They were one of the best live bands I have ever seen in both a club setting and festival scene. Crowd surfers were nonstop which was fine with me and basically everyone else. I stayed out of the mosh pit so I could save my energy for Ohio’s pride and joy, BEARTOOTH. My favorite band of all time, I have Caleb’s lyrics tattooed on me if that does not show you support for an artist, I don’t know what does. One of the most wild sets of the weekend, at least for me. The pits were insane, after leaving the pit, I stumbled my way to Jake, spitting out mud, blood falling out of my face, and out lungs full of dust. We were pretty beat up and tired by the end of their set so, we made the executive decision to pass on seeing Halestorm and Rob Zombie and headed home early.
After everything was said and done, Inkcarceration has taken the top spot on my festival tower. I am already planning to buy my passes for this coming July’s festival in the next few days. DWP taking over this festival as one of their own was a great move for DWP themselves and all those involved with Inkcarceration. This move is going to draw larger crowds, bigger artists, and more luxuries due to the increased levels of funds. DWP continues to amaze myself and thousands of others every single time that they announce lineups, put out new events, and they involve themselves with their supporters and communities.