As consistent as the artwork of a great tattoo artist, Musink continues to deliver a weekend of ink, punk rock, and good times year after year. With the 2017 rendition going down at the OC Fairgrounds over the weekend, we’re taking a look back on the best and worst parts of the weekend.
Diversity of Tattoo Artists
Not only were there all sorts of different styles represented by the tattoo artists at Musink this year, but there was a wide variety of locations, backgrounds, and everything else. From Japan and Europe to plenty of hometown tattooers, Musink brought out artist from everywhere with shops big and small. Also, it seemed like there were more women tattooing this year, which is always welcome both for a convention and for the industry.
Musink always does a great job of loading up the weekend with awesome bands, but Glassjaw really took the cake on Saturday night. NOFX, the Used, Pennywise, Bad Religion, and Goldfinger (which is really a punk rock supergroup of John Feldmann joined by Mike Herrera of MxPx on bass, Story of the Year guitarist Phil Sneed, and Musink’s own Travis Barker on drums) were all expectedly great as well, but Glassjaw may have packed in the best 45-minute set of the weekend. They didn’t exactly fit with the other bands on the bill, but there’s a reason they inspired many of the younger acts playing over the weekend. From the clarity in every one of Daryl Palumbo's screams and notes to the perfect versions of "Tip the Bartender," "Mu Empire" and "Ape Dos Mil," it was everything a fan of the Long Island band could want in a short set.
From Goldfinger’s star-studded lineup to Less Than Jake’s Roger Lima standing in for NOFX’s Eric Melvin (who couldn’t make the show due to childbirth) and a quick guest appearance from No Doubt’s Adrian Young, Musink had plenty of onstage surprises over the course of the weekend. Factor in some of the skateboarding legends and other locals who could be found walking around the tattoo areas, and there was a little unexpected something for everyone over the three-day event. Hell, even Fat Mike was selling albums out of the Fat Wreck Chords booth for a little while on Friday.
Extra Shiny Cars
The car show at Musink is always there, but it rarely seems like a focal point. Rather than just being a handful of classic rides — and a walkway to the music hangar — thrown between the tattoo buildings, the cars this year were actually pretty spectacular. From sparkly bright pink paint jobs to one-of-a-kind customization, the cars alone might not be entirely worth the price of admission, but they’re certainly moving in the right direction.
Hawaiian Chicken Bowls
Seriously, why would you buy any of the other food at Musink (or any other similar event at the OC Fairgrounds, most likely) other than the stuff served from the Hawaiian Chicken Bowls stand? All you need is one of those and maybe one of the giant sour straws that seem to pop up at most conventions and food festivals, and you’re good for the whole evening. Even Noodles of the Offspring was in line for one on Sunday during Pennywise's set.
If you want to vape or smoke cigarettes or weed or whatever else, you do you. But if there are so many people smoking in doorways and hangars that the entire place starts to smell like cigarette smoke and the ground is covered in ash and cigarette butts, it might be time to cut back a little bit. There’s no need to make Musink a non-smoking event or even have a designated smoking section, but maybe just crack down on the folks burning through an entire pack right next to the entrance to where the tattooers are working.
Aside from the cigarette trash, people are just gross with throwing their stuff everywhere. Considering how many trash cans there are in the (relatively small) Musink grounds, there was a surprising amount of everything from beer cups to gift bags to random articles of clothing strewn around the fairgrounds. The janitorial team actually did a really good job of cleaning everything up, but if people hadn’t been such dicks in the first place, they wouldn’t have been the hottest commodity there.
Maybe it’s just inflation, but it seems like the cost of Musink goes up every year. Although ticket prices aren’t unreasonable for a festival ($70 for a day, $150 for an all-you-can-drink VIP day, etc.), it sure seems like the costs of many things inside have gone up as of late. A good chunk of the tattoo artists offer deals and discounts if they’re not busy (since they already paid for the booth, it’s better to recoup some of the cost than not bring anything in), but buying everything from food to beer to t-shirts and other merch seems to be getting more expensive every year. We’re not quite at Coachella prices yet, but with beer prices moving into double digits and most of the official merch in the $30s and $40s, it’s getting there.
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Bumping into People
On Friday, the majority of Musink’s patrons were understandably drunk for St. Patrick’s Day (although many of them started a little too early and were falling over well before NOFX actually came on at 9:00), but the rest of the weekend people seemed to have just as much trouble walking without crashing into people and things. Coupled with the attitude that typically hangs over some of a tattoo convention’s visitors, folks randomly bumping into each other over the weekend was grounds for at least a couple of yelling matches (although we didn’t see any physical fights), and even ended up knocking over an artist’s display table on Saturday. Don’t walk and Instagram, people.
Outdated Facial Hair
I feel like I say this every year, but tattoo conventions are really among the last strongholds for soul patches, goatees, and other facial hair trends that should’ve been gone decades ago. Sure, there were plenty of beards and mustaches to go around too, but there’s something particularly perturbing about a group of overweight men standing around with matching goatees and semi-offensive t-shirts about topics like "Bitches & Bikes" that really seems like a blast from the past while so many artists and musicians are bringing Musink into the future.