This year the annual Musink Festival refined an already great formula, but still came up short by the end of three days. On the plus side, the tattoo artists and vendors expanded to two exhibit halls and the lineup for the three nights of bands provided this writer enough motivation to attend. Moving the concert area of the festival to “The Hangar,” a regular music venue for the fair, served as an excellent backdrop for the heavy hitters Rancid, Bad Religion, and Blink-182 amongst others. The tattoo contests were relocated onto their own stage in the pavilion between the tattoo exhibition buildings surrounded by the backdrop of Musink’s classic car show.
Iconic female-fronted ska punk band, The Interrupters kicked off night one of Musink’s musical entertainment following their run on Australia’s Soundwave Festival. Aimee Interrupter (also known as Aimee Allen) hopped onstage with the Bivona brothers and burst right into tracks like “White Noise” and “Easy On You.” Fan engagement started slow, but quickly ballooned when The Interrupters covered Operation Ivy’s “Sound System.” The band finished with “A Friend Like Me” and “Family” as The Hangar began to fill up.
New York based Sick Of It All was next on the bill and really got the crowd moving. Their energetic stage presence and hardcore style really pumped up the crowd and was a nice step up in pacing. As Lou Koller, Pete Koller, and Craig Setari ran around onstage crowd surfers started to appear, but nothing can compared to the night’s headliner.
With a two story banner sporting the cover of …And Out Come The Wolves as their backdrop, Rancid took the stage. The Hangar was now full of eager fans who erupted when “Radio” and “Roots Radical” started off the band’s set. Rancid’s setlist was adorned with dozens of tracks; some from And Out Come The Wolves to celebrate the album’s 20th anniversary. As the first show since the release of Honor Is All We Know, the set also included newer songs for fans. Kevin Bivona of The Interrupters hopped back onstage to play keyboard during “Old Friend” and “Timebomb.” As “Ruby Soho” signaled the end of Rancid’s set the crowd still seemed relatively tame, but this could be due to all the freshly inked tattoos.
The crowd for Ignite may have only spanned a few rows, but that didn’t stop crowd surfers from diving headfirst over one or two people before reaching the barricade. As the pit opened Ignite blew through “Let It Burn”, “Live For Better Days” and “Know Your History” before launching into a sped-up cover of U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday”. The band’s final track “Bleeding” brought their set to a swift close but left this writer begging for more.
Before too much time passed punk legends Off! Took the stage. With members from previous iterations of The Circle Jerks, Black Flag, and Redd Kross, Off! had plenty of hype. Their set at Musink 2015 was the official kick-off to their current tour with night two headliners Bad Religion. As Off! jumped from one short aggressive song to the next Keith Morris interjected with “punk rock history” reminding fans just how experienced and versatile these musicians are. Their set was short and straight to the point, but The Hangar sadly remained significantly empty until Bad Religion hit the stage.
The boys in Bad Religion started their set with “Spirit Shine” and kicked Musink Day 2 into high gear. The band even threw in some rare tracks like “Billy” and “The Handshake” into the mix. The new additions were a nice treat and the fun didn’t stop there. “Kyoto Now!”, “Change Of Ideas”, “Dharma And The Bomb”, and “Anesthesia” also found their way into the 75 minute set. Crowd surfers started pouring over the barricade when Bad Religion hit “Stranger Than Fiction”, “Sorrow”, and “No Control” but fans went ballistic when “Generator” kicked off the tail end of their set. “American Jesus”, “Infected”, and “Fuck Armageddon, This Is Hell” riled the crowd into a fantastic frenzy proving Bad Religion has not lost any of their iconic sound or dedicated following over the last 34 years.
When the gates opened for the final day of Musink 2015 the overall crowd changed into a much younger and less tattooed bunch, but after two days of energetic bands immersed in the tattoo, culture PRAYERS came as an unpleasant surprise. Almost immediately after the gothic duo set up their gear the crowd started booing and taunting the band. As their set continued the negative energy only intensified. As vocalist Rafael Reyes preached about how being on stage was his destiny, Dave Parley filled the venue with techno and synthetic “instrumentals.” The band’s most positive reaction was when PRAYRS left five minutes early.
Next up was rock/rap artist Yelawolf accompanied by Festival presenter and Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker starting round one of his double duty. Sombrero clad musicians on turntables and guitar made up the rest of Yelawolf’s entourage and were met with a burst of fan energy. Once the band burst into “Push ‘Em” the entire crowd seemed to shift weight and shove from side to side. Yelawolf’s energy and Alabama sprit shined through his entire fast tempo set. He left dedicated fans pleased and the entire audience ready for the main event.
Whether you want to call them Blink 18trio or Alkaline 182 Matt Skiba’s performance with Blink-182 was one for the record books and gave fans plenty to enjoy. Mark Hoppus was by far the most mobile between the two and strutted across the stage more than once. This may have been from the 20+ years Mark spent etching each track into his memory. Skiba’s performance was noteworthy even if it was more stationary. As the night progressed Skiba’s vocals filled iconic tracks like “Feeling This” and “The Rock Show” with a new flavor, but kept all the energy fans have come to expect at a Blink-182 show. Fans filled The Hangar at the OC fairgrounds to capacity and climbed up the walls into the rafters while the band blew through favorites like “All The Small Things” and “What’s My Age Again?” As “Family Reunion” blared throughout The Hangar, the band’s set came to a close, and Blink-182 left thousands of fans begging for more.
Overall Musink Fest 2015 paid homage to tattoo and classic car culture in the best way possible, but musically went into a sharp nosedive in terms of quality by day three. Apart from a few lackluster moments, the festival with its music, classic car show, and two exhibit halls of buzzing needles, left this writer in anticipation for the upcoming Ink-N-Iron Festival. If Musink can kick out the remaining quirks for 2016 it is bound to go from an interesting festival to a can’t miss event.