Finishing up their third year, Ink in the Clink has made leaps to providing the Mid-Ohio area with a festival worth attending. A destination with a backdrop you won't find anywhere else. Still relatively new, but gaining a lot of attention, Ink in the Clink sits on 40 acres at one of the most notorious prisons made famous by many films. I think anyone who's anyone knows I don't need to throw out any hints to tell you where or what I'm referring. But in case you're still living in solitary and needing a handout, you'll find Ink in the Clink located at the Ohio State Reformatory, made famous by the 1994 hit, "Shawshank Redemption."
I was happy to be invited back by IITC to covering this 3-day long tattoo and music festival. Rick and Susan Fields, the people behind Ink in the Clink, amped up the entertainment by booking a solid lineup of rock/metal to ensure everyone was getting someone they wanted to see. When IITC announced their list this year, I had to start planning because many new AND bigger acts were on the horizon! The whole weekend was picture perfect for my camera, and this goes for anyone in attendance. Sunny skies hovered over the prison for the three-day festival.
I'm going to save my character count for this post about writing all the bands I captured this year. Rather than cover everyone (I don't think I have the stamina to finger punch my keyboard with all the acts), I will highlight each day, pick my winners of who stuck out and flash a daily gallery of all bands for each day. Everyone wins.
Day 1 (July 14th)
Things started off loud 'n heavy on day one at IITC. Two stages, side-by-side was the blueprint for all the acts. One band plays while the other set up. No dead air and continuous music all day long. Friday opened up with 14 regional and national groups which included performances by After the Ashes, Olathia, Bonesaw, Unsaid Fate, Otherwise, All that Remains, Mushroomhead, and In This Moment closing the evening.
Olathia (Cleveland, OH) - My appearance was hindered on day 1, but arrived in the knick of time at 4:30 to see my second family crash the stage at 5:00. A straight melodic thrash metal band fronted by female vocalist, Chris E. who can stretch sweet harmonious tones down to thundering growls of rage that quaked the prison walls Friday evening. This was Olathia's first show in a few month span, but things really didn't miss a beat, especially with Terry Johnson as the band's newest man on bass battling out stage spotlight with Chris.
Otherwise (Las Vegas, NV) - It seems like whenever you get any band signed to Century Media Records, you're in for a treat. Not only is the high music enthusiastic, but their stage appearance is just as memorable as the songs they write. This was my first-time seeing or even hearing of Otherwise. As soon as Adrian Patrick entered the stage sporting a dark gray cloak-like hoodie (hood up), dangling red wristbands and the facial grins that represented, "shits about to get real," then the energy level quickly rose from the main stage. The man worked that stage and played into the hands of the audience getting them involved singing such hits as "Soldiers" and "Die For You." Expect to see the new material as their forthcoming album "Sleeping Lions" sets to drop at the end of next month.
Mushroomhead (Cleveland, OH) - A favorite must-see for viewers residing in the northeast Ohio area. It's no surprise Mushroomhead were invited back for Ink in the Clink this year. The seven masked members are known for their avant-garde sound, and elaborate stage set-ups, headlined and shut down the second stage that night. Despite only having a few favorite hits I find myself listening to, the enjoyable part is watching them all collaborate and interact with the crowd. You don't get the full "Mushroomhead" experience until you see a few of the members jump ship and clash with you in the crowd. A personal favorite of mine are the two water drums set up on both sides of the stage which are Illuminated with lights inside the drums. So every hit is a burst of "hydro" color fun for my camera.
In This Moment (Hollywood, CA) - In This Moment won "Best of Show" for the weekend. Easily topping the other headliners and placing an exclamation point in every category. It really was no contest. Love or hate the music, you can't deny the fact this band controls the battlefield playing live.
Implementing stage aesthetics that work perfectly with the tone of their music. Everyone is in heavy makeup. Dark, ghoulish-like appearances that make you think twice meeting these guys alone in the woods. As you fix your attention to the middle of the stage, a different persona is exhibited. Maria Brink, the lead vocalist for ITM provides some of the heaviest vocal sounds to come out of a singer. The screams and cries she leaves set the tone to all her songs. The emotion is heavily pitted into your stomach from such hits as "Whore," "Big Bad Wolf," and "Sick Like Me." If you're not already sold, I haven't even gotten into the costume changes Maria switches into for most of her songs. Each song is heavily highlighted visually to showcase a story. The lights, thick fog that regularly encompasses the stages, all the way to her back up dancers tantalizing your eyeballs.
DAY 1 GALLERY (Click to expand)
Day 2 (July 15)
The second day and was feeling good physically. Arrived at the prison early afternoon and was ready to get a full day of music in me. If yesterday was anything to set the tempo for Ink, day 2 surely didn't trail behind. With bands such as Starset, 10 Years, Motograter, September Mourning and Three Days Grace ending the night, there were no acts in between that chilled the vibe on Saturday.
September Mourning (Los Angeles, CA) - I really was anticipating photographing September Mourning the most for Ink in the Clink, and they didn't foil (naturally). September Mourning is considered a transmedia dark culture project created by Emily Lazar and Marc Silvestri. The visuals of Emily's character, September can be described as cryptically beautiful. Depicted as a fictional character in her novel where the central concept as this lovely grim reaper hybrid where she navigates the world of the living and the world of the dead, her human side possessing the empathy to give some human souls a second chance. As her moves tantalize your eyeballs back and forth, you'll begin to see her hands reach toward the crowd as if she's ready to take a few souls right there. The rest of her band dressed in all black attire, serve as her servant spirits. Attending to every move she makes. The only thing that would have made this set more memorable was seeing them play at a later time slot where the dark air and full stage lights could embrace this story fully. September, I will await your return to Cleveland and see your soul reaping continue. Amazingly great show!
Starset (Columbus, OH) - Starset, a cinematic rock band from the Columbus area, are already having a galactic year. Nominated for three awards and set to perform at this year's Loudwire Music Awards, and surpassing 1 billion views on Youtube for their music videos and user content. When I see images from other photographers shooting Starset live and hearing the hits already populated on the airwaves, I knew this would be a unique chance to add some great photos to my portfolio. Starset easily took control and grabbed first place on the main stage that day. Even beating out headliner, Three Days Grace. The only shame was not seeing them take that last spot and witnessing the lights involved in their spacesuits. All the electronics included during the show was highly meant for darkness. Hopefully, next time when they roll back here, I can get the full effect.
Motograter (Santa Barbara, CA) - This band from Southern Cali took me by surprise and knocked the eyeliner off my face. Before their set, I was backstage waiting, scrolling through my photos and Matt, the guitarist for Motograter, approached me and introduced himself and the band. He mentioned I shouldn't miss this performance. So, my curiosity peaked wondering who these guys were. As Starset concluded, I walked behind the second stage to see black and white paint splattered everywhere over the pavement with a couple gallon bottles of the stuff laying out. I look up and I see 5 of the members standing around me splashed in the wet black paint with white tribal stripes marking their whole upper body. The big news involving Motograter was the filming of their music video, "Dorian" at the prison.
Motograter was given their name from the instrument they created and play. I don't know what the hell a "motorgrator" is, but apparently, it's designed with industrial cable and guitar pieces that create a unique bass sound. August 11, the band released "Desolation" via EMP and the hit "Dorian" has already been peaking the mainstream charts. This is the band's first album since 2003.
DAY 2 GALLERY (Click to expand)
Day 3 (Sunday)
Beatened and sunburnt, the finish line was on the horizon for the final day of Ink in the Clink. Sad, sad...yes. Weekends go by so damn fast and even quicker when you're enjoying yourself molded in the entertainment doing what you love. Day 3 brought on a slightly different tone from the previous two days. Bands such as Texas Hippie Coalition, Black Stone Cherry, and Shaman's Harvest, carried more of the southern sound. Theory of a Deadman closed out the evening and festival as the main headliner.
Ignite the Fire (Taneytown, MD) - Opening the main stage was a band that lives up to their name. The sun was shining and the heat from the stage most certainly heated up the crowd as the volume began to fill. Ignite the Fire fueled up sweet harmonious melodies and catchy guitar sweeps from Michael Nelson. Ignite the Fire are a tightly knitted and young rock band that has enormous potential to keep rising. Their five song EP entitled "Trial and Triumph" hits hard and a great jammer on a highway car ride. Check out and listen to "Breathe." It's a favorite that's on my Spotify playlist. How did they get the name "Ignite the Fire"? Well, I have a good idea. I think it first started with the drummer's hair! It was a pleasure seeing you guys, and please hook me up next time you are in Cleveland. Would love to come out and jam!
Shaman's Harvest (Jefferson City, MO) - Mixing rock and southern blues go hand-and-hand for Shaman's Harvest. A band I recently was introduced from my girlfriend. The band recently released their full-length CD entitled, "Red Hands Black Deeds" a few weeks after their performance at Ink in the Clink. So we got a few sneaks from the new album. Very exciting. Nathan Hunt (lead vocalist) walks out in blue denim, long curly hair and grasps his spined skeleton mic stand as the rest of the band walks with him to "Red Hands Black Deeds (Prelude)" and right into hard hitting "Broken Ones" from the new album as well.
Texas Hippie Coalition (Denison, TX) - The baddest band of the festival goes to Texas Hippie Coalition. Frontman, Big Dad Ritch mindset was, "this is my stage, I'm here to f#ck shit up, and if you tell me otherwise, you're going to get one pissed off Texan on your hands." Not his exact words, but there was no filter for Big Dad Rich. Pressured to disband from the stage after they exceeded their time, his reply, "they're trying to tell us we gotta get off the stage. We were going to play one more song, but fuck 'em, we're playing two more." Labeled as "Red Dirt Metal," I think the term fits well with the band's songs. All attitude, grit, and piercing sound that any metal head won't hesitate to go a little south to appreciate.
DAY 3 GALLERY (Click to expand)