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

Tattoos, music, food and one of my favorite places were enough to draw me North to Mansfield, OH. The 2018 INKcarceration Festival is a music and tattoo festival that hosted 70+ tattoo artists 33 bands over three days at the historic Ohio State Reformatory, or as most refer to it, the Shawshank Prison.

That’s correct, my personal favorite movie (and hopefully yours), Stephen King’s ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ was filmed on location in and around Mansfield, OH.

As a rookie when it comes to tattoo festivals, I was absolutely blown away by the artists and the works they were creating. I don’t personally have any tattoos, but if I ever do decide to get some ink, I definitely attend something like INKcarceration. The sheer volume of artists and their unique styles will make your decision a lot easier for such a permanent decision.

As a creative person myself, I was inspired by several of the tattoo artists. I personally enjoyed the work of Chris Powell, but below are a few photos from the artists at work.

I had been to a tour at the “Shawshank Prison” in the past, but I was eager to see the new additions and more of the ongoing remodel. Since my first trip here, the Warden’s office has been completed and there were quite a few new artifacts as well. I’m going to cheat a bit on this photo gallery and use some of my older shots, mixed with newer ones, simply because the older ones aren’t nearly as crowded. You can simply get a better feel for just how massive and in a weird way, how beautiful the place is.

Yes, it’s supposedly haunted. Yes, it was a prison. Yes, that’s a bit morbid, BUT in my defense, just look at this place. It’s incredible.

We weren’t able to make it up for the shows on Friday, so we decided to dedicate a lot of the Saturday portion of this article to capturing the tattoo artists and the prison itself. Catching mainly the headlining bands before putting our full focus towards the music on Sunday.

The first band that we were able to catch was Alien Ant Farm. You’ll likely remember them for their fantastic cover of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal”, but the band has a pretty extensive catalog to pull from and their set definitely did not disappoint. Knowing the band’s past and the medical issues that were overcome, I would’ve been fine with a lethargic performance, but thankfully that wasn’t the case. It was early, it was hot, but AAF rocked it! Their second song of the set, “At The Movies” was the highlight for me.

We were starving by this point, so we decided to break away and hit the food trucks. I went for the Pizza Cottage. My meal was delicious and I knew that I had found my meal for Sunday as well. There were several choices that I wanted to try, but when you’re working a festival, if you find a sure thing, you usually go back. Because time is crucial with so much going on.

Fuel hit the stage with some minor microphone issues. That didn’t slow down vocalist Brett Scallion. He was rightfully a bit agitated but quickly settled into a set full of hits. From a personal perspective, I have been saying for some time that the “softer” rock bands are almost all gone. Classic rock bands like Journey, Foreigner, Chicago and so on still pack concert halls. But the era of bands like Hootie & The Blowfish or Matchbox Twenty, there aren’t many left. That’s what made the performance memorable for me. Fuel stepped onstage, played their asses off and had many folks singing the lyrics back to them. Songs like “Jesus Or A Gun”, “Bad Day”, and “Shimmer” and “Hemorrhage” are timeless and the crowd proved it.

Next up was a band that I’ve waited 30 years to witness and it was worth every second of the wait. Living Colour is a band that always blew me away sonically. When they broke out in a big way, it was unheard of that a band full of African Americans would rock like they did. Their performance, for me at least, was the best of the day and honestly, maybe of the two days we were there. Frontman Corey Glover was funny, random, engaging, energetic and a downright badass on that stage. Of course, he’s backed some of the best musicians on the planet, so you knew the music would be great no matter what.

I do want to take a second here and put this in writing. Corey Glover is an inspiration, a trailblazer, a hero and a wonderful human being by all accounts. Without him and this band, who knows how much music we would have missed out on from other African Americans. Think about it. I for one am extremely thankful for these fellas and you can bet your ass it won’t be another 30 years before I see them again.

As for their set, it was incredible. Songs like “Preachin’ Blues”, “Middle Man”, “Funny Vibe”, their awesome remake of Notorious B.I.G.’s “Who Shot Ya” and of course the classic “Cult Of Personality” packed the lawn at the second stage. Bravo fellas, bravo!

Our Lady Peace were up next. I was always aware of the band, but I never really called myself a huge fan. Sure I’ve heard and definitely enjoyed their hits, but I wasn’t all that familiar with their material…at least that’s what I thought. I knew many more songs than I thought I would. That’s a testament to their talent. I will say this though, I will certainly dig in deeper into their catalog after seeing them on Saturday.

By this time, we were exhausted and didn’t stick around for all of the final set from Bush. They’re a band that I really enjoy and have seen a few times over the years. The two songs we saw were just as fantastic as they were before, so I had no doubt that they delivered a home run set.

Stay tuned for lots more coverage from our second day at INKcarceration!