The Best and Worst of Ink-N-Iron 2015

The Best

The Bouncing Souls Sing-along
Make no mistake about it, the Bouncing Souls' set on Friday night was far from perfect. Aside from the vocals being at a near-inaudibly low level, the strict 45-minute time limit seemed to rush the set of a band with decades-worth of music to choose from. While the microphone problems might've thrown off some bands, the Souls turned it into a crowd-wide singalong, performing some of their biggest hits in front of an excited audience. Not only did the crowd carry songs like “Anchors Aweigh,” but they also stampeded toward the front of the stage when singer Greg Attonito came down to meet the crowd during hits like “True Believers.” Bouncing Souls continued to give their fans a reason to sing, and they certainly proved they'd sing along forever. (Josh Chesler)


The Bigtop Boiler Room
Burlesque dancers from the entire world come to show us their skills along with side “freak shows” at the the Bigtop Boiler Room. The man drinking and spinning the plates was probably one of the best performances that they've had Not only did he have perfect comedic timing, but his balancing skills when it comes to spinning those saucers wasn't too snappy either. The little added humor is what really made his act come to life. Acrobatic artist Brittany Walsh showed off her rubber band flexibility as a performer dancing on poles while holding a bow and arrow with her feet. (Kelsey Bowen)

The Moshpits for Hatebreed and Killswitch Engage
Despite the fact that local heroes Adolescents, played while the sun was still up, the biggest pits of the weekend were Saturday night during Hatebreed and Killswitch Engage, who closed the show. Jamey Jasta's screams and hardcore chants could be heard well across near food stands and vendors, as Hatebreed's angry, charged and urgent hardcore metal was blasted throughout the outdoor area for most to hear. The area just in front of the stage was full of hardcore kids, longhairs, punks and various bald headed, tattooed fans, and their chicks. The slam dancing took a while to commence but once it erupted, the circle pits never ceased. With original vocalist, Jesse Leach, KSE also bewildered fans with equal doses of head crushing and epic melodic metal. Leach repeatedly thanked the fest, for having a 'metal band with all these punk bands.' The band's highlight's included “Rose of Sharyn,” “Life to Lifeless,” “My Last Serenade,” and the last song, “The End of Heartache.” (Alex Distefano)

Rasputin's Marionettes
While there were plenty of sights and sounds to keep people with mature tastes thoroughly entertained throughout the weekend, there's only so much skin and iron will do to hold the attention of the many youngsters that were toted along. Fortunately for them, Rasputin's Marionettes occupied various stages throughout the weekend. Manipulated with skill and directed with restraint and class, this puppet show provided children and adults alike with a nice diversion from the skin ink and hair grease that permeated the rest of the grounds. (Scott Feinblatt)

Variety of Tattoo Artists
While Musink may have had more local names earlier this year, Ink-N-Iron definitely proved to be the bigger draw for tattooers from around the country and around the globe. New York and Texas proved to be particularly popular domestic locations to visit from, but artists from Japan, Canada, Germany, Australia, and many other countries held their own in just about every style. Ink-N-Iron wasn't just men either, with approximately half of the booths containing at least one female tattooer, including a handful of shops that were exclusively run by women. (Josh Chesler)

Big D and the Kids Table
Boston ska band Big D and the Kids Table were the first band to play for the last day of Ink-n-Iron. Despite the fact that they did not have the best vocals because of the sound guy, they still rocked the stage. The fact that the band only came for one day to play for this crowd only demonstrates how important last shows are. Although I am not a big fan of ska that does not mean that it was not a fun show to watch. The band was ready to play once they hit the stage and seeing a large band like that requires seeing them on a large stage. Although the MC was annoying and set them back a few minutes, that did not stop them from rocking out on stage. It would have been nice to hear the horns a little bit more clearly but that was not their fault, in fact they were making up for that by making sure they played right into the mic. (Kelsey Bowen)

The Energy of Fishbone
Fishbone got the crowd amped up, and a swarm of miniature circle pits did form, for the LA based funk, ska, punk and rock band, which dazzled the crowd with a blend of music that was fun, up beat and seemed to have a positive vibe. One listen to Fishbone, and you can hear the clear and direct influence on bands like sublime, Red Hot Chili Peppers, No Doubt, Korn, and so many more. Fishbone through on a funked out rock swinging party, and fans at the Queen Mary's front outdoor stage loved it. (Alex Distefano)

The Unintelligible British Banter of Long Tall Texans
The ironically named British psychobilly band, the Long Tall Texans, have been tearing it up since the early 80's. Their outstanding and highly spirited set on the diminutive Tiki Drive-In stage demonstrated that they still have enough piss and vinegar to keep a party going. That being said, singer / bass player Mark Carew's interactions with the crowd increased in speed and in intensity as they progressed through their set; at first his comments were easy enough to understand, but towards the end he was speaking so quickly and colorfully in his native English accent that his comments became an unintelligible mass of British verbiage, which most Americans would likely only be able to decipher using subtitles. (Scott Feinblatt)


The Worst

Turn up the Vocals!
This year it seemed like almost every band was saw had issues with their sound. I was standing right next to the stage for Big D and I could not hear any vocals. In fact the lead singer had even asked for the sound tech to turn it up, which never happened. I have always sat on the Queen's deck to watch the shows because I can watch everyone and I had to leave my beloved spot to stand in front of the stage for Gary Numan. For Peter Murphy during “Dark Entries,” even the back up vocals were louder then him. Normally from just about any spot you are able to hear clearly what the band is playing but this year was not the case. (Kelsey Bowen)

$20 Parking
Alright, the $8 slice of pizza is a bit much, but at least it's a damn big slice of pizza. $20 per day to park, on the other hand, is completely ridiculous. If you went to all three days, that means you dropped $60 on top of what you spent on your weekend wristband. Pro tip: Park in one of the neighborhoods north of the docks and take a $5 Uber straight to the gate instead. (Josh Chesler)

Gauging Food Prices
Value meals are the cornerstone of the American diet, but when supersizing options enter into the mix, those deals seem like less and less of a bargain. Well, one would be hard-pressed to find worse food bargains than those available at Ink-N-Iron, and that's without any supersize option. The cafeteria-grade burger and fries were offered as a deal for $15; for an additional $5, a small bottle of soda could be purchased as the crowning thorn in one's lousy lunch deal. (Scott Feinblatt)


Peter Murphy's Stage Presence
While it is no surprise that the best reception of Peter Murphy's set came whenever he performed a song from his former band, Bauhaus, his overall demeanor suggested that he was at best a delicate / frail artist or at worst an invalid. His voice sounded rough from the opening number, “King Volcano,” yet he still managed to perform well enough to satisfy his aging Bauhaus fans. However, amidst the struggle to summon his vocal strength, he managed to get his now far-from-lithe body tangled up in a colorful scarf. At one point, he had to call on the assistance of a stage hand to remove his sports coat when his arms got stuck in the sleeves, and to top it all off, he spent no less than two songs sitting down on the drum platform. This was certainly neither a strong choice for the grand finale of the three-day festival of vibrant music nor the final performance of the entire lifespan of the annual festival. (Scott Feinblatt)

Smoked Out by BBQ
The Smoke, and we don't mean cigarette smoke or pot smoke, which was rampant as well. We meant smoke from outdoor grills and barbecues. The center of the outdoor venue was a foodie's paradise. All kinds of burgers, BBQ, sandwiches, tacos, hot dogs, pizza and even a Chinese Food stand. But, in the afternoon, when the winds waft a certain way, the smoke and suit from all the sizzling ribs, kebobs and sausages lingered in the air, and for certain individuals made them walk away toward fresher air away from the pungent odors of meats cooking outside. (Alex Distefano)

Overzealous Security Guards
Safety is important, that's totally understandable, but at some point, the security guards at the event seemed more likely to cause fights than prevent them. Aside from the few guards who might've gotten a little too aggressive in the concert area, the lady who was making people open their sealed drinks (purchased from the food vendors) so she could smell them before entering any of the other areas seemed like a bit much. Let's not even talk about the guys who came through and randomly started chasing people out and telling tattooers to shut down their stations with little to no warning. (Josh Chesler)

See also:
Ink-N-Iron is Leaving Long Beach
10 Reasons You Should Go to Ink-N-Iron
Tim Hendricks Taking Over as Host of Ink-N-Iron

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