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On The Road: Coverage From Sunday At The INKcarceration Festival At Shawshank Prison in Mansfield, OH

Day two at the INKcarceration Festival was all about the music. The lineup on Sunday, if you looked at my iTunes, you’d think that I could’ve possibly had a hand in putting that lineup together. There were so many incredible artists, one right after the other. The good thing about it? At INKcarceration, bands never overlap so actually get to see all the bands you pay for.

My partner and I split off early Sunday. I took in the Hellzapoppin Sideshow and Jeff decided to explore a little more of the prison. Hellzapoppin is a show that may actually get an article all it’s own in time, but I’ll just hit the highlights here.

Under the big top, Hellzapoppin promised to thrill you, chill you, amaze you and maybe (if you’re lucky) disgust you. A talented troop of performers defied the odds and even death to bring us a memorable performance.

From eating fire to razor blades, to swinging a bowling ball from their eyelids to walking on their hands over broken glass that was set on fire, to pushing corn kernels up the sinuses and out the tear ducts to balancing a running chain saw between their teeth, you got your money’s worth. There was a whole lot of crazy sh!t going on under that tent!

Jeff made it back to catch the majority of Adelitas Way’s set. He made the remark that he didn’t realize just how many radio hits they have had. We both agreed that it’s kind of mind-boggling to think that a band with that much success at radio would be playing so early in the day. Granted the band took a hard loss when Keith Wallen departed for Breaking Benjamin, but those guys are a really solid act and we’re glad they’re still creating great music.

Soil is a band that has had their ups and downs as well, but after reuniting with original frontman Ryan McCombs, the band has practically lived on the road. And let me just say, it shows. These fellas absolutely destroyed the 2nd stage.

The almighty Sevendust were up next on the mainstage. They’re a band that has been consistently awesome since their first album. They know exactly who they are and no one can even come close to being Sevendust. With four vocalists in the band, Sevendust can create a melodic metal sound that most can only dream of. That sound in a live setting is absolutely second to none. Lajon Witherspoon is one of the best metal vocalists on the planet. You add in the screams and wild af beats from Morgan Rose and layer all that with the harmonies from Clint Lowery and John Connolly, forget about it. They rule. Others drool. End of story.

One more small tidbit of information that Lajon Witherspoon told the crowd really excited me. He announced that Sevendust will be back out on the road in September with none other than my favorite band, Clutch. Had I had any fluids left in my bottom in all that heat, I likely would’ve peed a little.

Corrosion Of Conformity is a band that I always have this what if feeling about. Don’t get me wrong here, I love and appreciate Down, but I often find myself wondering how much relevant music we may have missed out on when Pepper Keenan stepped away to form Down with Phil Anselmo.

For example, take the song, “Vote With A Bullet”. The lyrics in that song speak about religions dividing nations and essentially calls for a revolution. Those lyrics are likely more relevant today than they were when they were written some 20+ years ago. Add in the fact that Pepper Keenan is a damn good vocalist and I just feel like, totally on a selfish personal level, we were perhaps a bit cheated out of the full potential of COC. Of course hearing classic songs like “Albatross” and “Clean My Wounds” likely added to that selfishness.

For the next section, I’m going to let Jeff tell his side of the performances of Suicidal Tendencies and Hatebreed. Two of his personal favorite acts.

I have been a huge Suicidal Tendencies tendencies fan for as long as I can remember. I first heard them in the film “Repo Man” as a child and I was instantly hooked. I wore out multiple copies of Suicidal’s ‘Prime Cuts’, but sadly I had never got to see the band live in all this time. So as you can imagine, I was really excited to see them, but I was somewhat nervous at the same time. Seeing that I wasn’t watching the ‘Prime Cuts’ artists in their prime. That nervousness disappeared five seconds into their show. Mike Muir has aged more like dynamite than a fine wine. Exploding onto the stage with one of my personal favorites, “You Cant Bring Me Down” was perfect because as the song title says, you certainlly couldn’t couldn’t bring me down. I haven’t seen that much energy on stage in my life. The sound was amazingly flawless. The band members themselves are like a crazy high-fueled circus act jumping off the amps. Switching sides of the stage, just never setting still and…hey, this is still the first song. If you think for a second that you can catch your breath after that first tornado of energy, well you are mistaken. Very mistaken.

“Clap Like Ozzy” was a track that I didn’t expect to hear, but I am sure glad I did. The energy, the craziness, the awesomeness continued the entire set. The only time the band stopped was to allow Mike Muir to say a few really positive and inspirational words between songs.

Being that INKcarceration was an all ages event, several young children where in the audience. That’s where Mike Muir’s cool points jumped off the charts. Suicidal Tendencies decided to recognize those young folks as our future and he brought every child in the crowd that wanted to participate up on stage. One young man was actually celebrating his birthday. So the band sung happy birthday to him and gave him a drum stick from Dave Lombardo. That moment really brought me back to listening to them as child, around the same age as that young man, and that kindness really made a great impression on me.

As soon as the Suicidal set ended, I made my way straight to second stage to see one of my other favorite bands, Hatebreed. I have had the pleasure of seeing them before, but I was just as excited to see them again. The energy that Suicidal brought is what Hatebreed brings as well, they carry the same torch. In fact, Hatebreed frontman Jamey Jasta himself admits being a huge Suicidal fan and admits that he draws a lot of inspiration from them.

Starting out the set with “Looking Down The Barrel Of Today” the crowd was seemingly as wild as a prison riot, which was definitely fitting for our location. Don’t get me wrong though, the pit was in no way violent. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as I was and the sound was absolutely spot on.

On a personal note, I was extremely excited to see them sing my favorite song, “Honor Never Dies”. The lyrics of that song mean a lot to me. If you were to ask me why I think you should watch or listen to Hatebreed or Suicidal Tendencies, I would quickly tell you to read the lyrics to that song. In a world full of negativity, their message is an extremely positive one. The song praises you for being a good person and standing up for the right things in life. Which I realize, is a little ironic given both bands names, but it’s definitely true.

Hatebreed perfomed several more great songs throughout their set. Including “Perservance”, “Something’s Off” and one of their most loved songs, “Destroy Everything”. Which is exactly what they did. I was shocked to see the stage still standing. I felt like I had just jumped out of airplane without a parachute after they finished. You wont find two bands that have more energy on stage, especially back-to-back. Glad I could grab a free rockstar afterwards. I was drained but had a smile ear to ear. Finally I could breath.

Had the day ended there, it would’ve been one helluva day. That wasn’t the case, thankfully. See my personal favorite band on the planet, happens to be Clutch. I’ve written many articles about them over the years and I will likely fight anyone that doesn’t agree that Neil Fallon is the greatest frontman living on this planet. Okay, I totally would not fight anyone, but I do feel Neil is the best.

The band has evolved and morphed into a blues based, jazz infused, psychedelic, intelligent juggernaut. Clutch has become the Phish of Stoner Rock Bands. Now let me explain before you get your panties all bunched up. Phish can go anywhere they want and their fans will follow them. Clutch has grown an equally motivated fanbase. I have met many folks over the years that have followed the band throughout entire tours. Their work ethic has instilled that loyalty and in all honesty, it’s a beautiful thing.

With Clutch, you know what you’re getting going in. Neil commands the crowd. JP gets more sound from a three or four piece kit than just about any drummer on the planet. Tim is always in the groove, he concentrates and delivers. All the while, Dan brings the thunder through that big beautiful Rickenbacker.

There was one moment though that I want to discuss. I’ve been told that 13 is unlucky. On this day, I’d have to disagree. I saw Clutch for the 13th time today. Pepper Keenan from another favorite band, Corrosion Of Conformity, joined Clutch onstage for an epic performance of “Space Grass”.

Why is that significant? Glad you asked! My first 21+ show was in Lexington, KY at the ole A1A Concert Hall, where I would later book some shows. The bands that played that night? Clutch and Corrosion of Conformity. I’d say number 13 was pretty darn lucky for me on that night.

So, great day. Right? Right, but we still had one more act. Father Zakk Wylde brought his legion of SDMF’s with him and Black Label Society.

Zakk is one of the last true rock stars that always seems like he’s just bigger than life. From his Viking appearance adorned by a kilt and his famous bullseye guitars, you know who Zakk is as soon as you see him. Funny thing is, you know him when you hear him as well.

BLS delivered a massive set full of the sonic squeals of the pinch harmonics Zakk has made his own. They visited nearly every album the band has released and nearly shook the prison off its’ foundation.

Using seemingly every inch of the huge stage, BLS adorned massive backdrops and mic stands with the skulls the band has long been tied to. Oh and don’t forget about those massive stacks of amps. Were they all real? Probably not, but it sure sounded like it. My personal highlights included “Genocide Junkies”, “Suicide Messiah”, of course, “In This River”, “Concrete Jungle” and the cherry on top of it all, “Stillborn”.

Father Zakk never disappoints. From the first time I saw him at the Madison Theater in Covington, to closing out this fantastic festival, Zakk and BLS continue to stand tall. We’re lucky to have him. So go forth and let the man melt your face!!