Review: Inkcarceration 2021 proves Festivals are back, bigger than ever.

Posted by on October 15, 2021


Photo by Steve Thrasher


With news earlier this year on Danny Wimmer’s company DWP would be partnering with the minds behind Inkcarceration, fans were torn on whether the announcement was good or not. Knowing the sheer size of the production ability from DWP, I was convinced Inkcarceration could only be improved from its humble beginnings to a premier festival in the Ohio area. As the lineup announcement brought huge names to an otherwise smaller named festival, it set the pace to what fans could expect from DWP going forward.

The Site

Held at the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio, the prison is most notably known for its use in the blockbuster motion picture The Shawshank Redemption. Although these days, decommissioned, its main use is for educational and “Blood Prison” haunted tours. On an exciting note, a fully functional correctional facility sits immediately behind OSR and still holds prisoners to this day. Walking in, the most significant difference noticed right away was the enlargement of the festival grounds. Normally contained within the direct grounds of the reformatory, up to Reformatory Rd, the site took up more space that included a regular parking lot for prison visitors. Moving the second stage from next to the prison to the parking lot out front allowed more room for fans to roam the grounds and take prison tours without stepping over one another. A third stage was added in what is usually referred to as “Food City.” An area to the left of the main doors of the prison with a group of food trucks. The tattoo artists remained held in the back of the prison as they had been years prior. A VIP area was still in place, with a better layout and a sweet view of the Space Zebra Main Stage.


Friday, September 10th

With bands starting at 11 am on Friday, there wasn’t much time to tailgate in the parking lot, although some people chose to forego entering early to party a bit more outside Badflower lead singer Josh Katz was suffering from laryngitis, could barely sing. He asked the crowd for assistance, which they were more than willing to do. I often wonder what it’s like to be an artist standing on stage hearing thousands of voices singing your own music back to you. I presume a fantastic moment in time for the fellas in Badflower.
Ice Nine Kills, fresh off a few new singles released from their upcoming album, took the stage in full force and slayed (pun intended) their entire set. This day was no exception, one of few bands known to pull costumes, on-site mini acts, and full-on horror shows. Live debuting THREE new songs off their new album (releasing October 15th, 2021); fans were treated to all-new costumes. Music for their 10-song set included older hits like “A Grave Mistake,” “Savages,” and “The American Nightmare,” as well as new hits “Assault & Batteries,” “Hip To Be Scared,” and “Rainy Day.”
80’s glam rockers Steel Panther took partying to a new level, while Mongolian folk/metal band The Hu showed how heavy one could rock with throat singing and stringed instruments. Closing out the night was Slipknot, playing their second show since Covid killed the music touring world, and they made every moment being couped up in the house worth it. Laying out a 14-song set spanning albums throughout their catalog, it was a maggot’s dream to tear the place down.


Photo by Steve Thrasher

Saturday, September 11th

After a small nightmare getting out of the parking on Friday night (home at around 2 am), moving this morning was more challenging than imagined. Tailgaters, some which I doubt went to bed at all, had more energy than me, slowly dragging myself in with a cup of coffee.
Both main stages had an insane lineup, with Zero 9:36 being the first performance seen on the Inked Stage. Diamante and Saul playing afterward on the Inked Magazine stage both had performances that left fans wanting more. Fame on Fire played a mix of both original songs and covers during their set.
With the announcement that Asking Alexandria could not perform due to bus difficulties, a shuffle was drawn, and Pop Evil slipped into a new time slot, directly before Chevelle on the main stage.
A Day To Remember crammed 16 songs into their hour-long time slot, playing new and old hits like “All Signs Point To Lauderdale,” “Mindreader,” and “Everything We Need” before closing it all out with the hit party song “the Downfall of Us All.”
Saturday night’s headliner was 12 years in the making!!! Mudvayne took to the stage shortly before 10 pm and ran the anxious fans through 14 songs, including a live debut with “A Cinderella Story,” a short speech by lead singer Chad Gray, and ended with hit singles “Happy?” and “Dig.”


Photo by Steve Thrasher

Sunday, September 12th

After being locked up in a house for more than 15 months, two days of a festival would have been enough for this tired soul, but when offered a third day of rocking, you take it. Parking was easier to get out of last night, and we were able to awaken and arrive at the site earlier than Saturday.
While catching some smaller bands on the side stages, the Space Zebra stage was what I was there for on this day!
Stitched Up Heart, Wage War, and The Devil Wears Prada played terrific sets, but Fever 333 came to destroy everything! Known for their crazy onstage antics, lead singer Jason Aalon Butler cannot be contained once the music starts. The final day’s demonstration in Mansfield, Ohio, was no different, and within the group’s 8-song set, the trio created a level of havoc that has outdone all previous shows I’ve seen.
Motionless In White and Beartooth played blistering sets, with Wage War’s lead singer Briton Bond joining Beartooth and Caleb onstage for “Bad Listener.” Halestorm took the stage as direct support for closer Rob Zombie, and a party ensued. Lzzy, Arejay, Josh, and Joe brought the hits and had everyone singing along throughout their 11-song set with songs “Mz. Hyde,” “I Miss The Misery,” and their newest single, “Back From The Dead.”
Rob Zombie closed Inkcarceration 2021 out with an onslaught of classics that ranged from new, all the way back to his White Zombie days. Over 15 songs fans were transported back in time with hits like “Thunder Kiss ’65”, “More Human Than Human” while also being treated to newer songs of his current album with “Shadow of the Cemetery Man” and “The Eternal Struggles of the Howling Man.”


Photo by Steve Thrasher


Overall, this festival was excellent as the first REAL outing in a long time for most people. There were a few hiccups throughout the weekend, but there was a level of transparency from the team at DWP that they were listening to feedback and would improve for next year. So, while it seems like this partnership wasn’t a one-off occurrence, hopefully, DWP and the creators of Inkcarceration can move forward and grow this event into something even bigger and better than it always is. Tickets are already available for layaway for 2022 and can be found here, along with updates as they happen.

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Categorised in: Festivals, Reviews