The Rust Belt Chronicles’ review of Saturday at 2017 Ink in the Clink!

Saturday at Ink in the Clink 2017 was a busy day for The Rust Belt Chronicles but it was also a fun one. Anytime that you get to interview bands, whether local or national, you never know what to expect. We want to thank those bands that spent time with us to share their wit and insight. You can see those interviews in several upcoming episodes of our Rock Lines Video program, so be on the lookout for those.

As far as the lineup goes all I can say is Holy shit!! In fact that same sentiment can be made of the entire weekend’s musical lineup. Every band that took the stage put on one hell of a performance. I saw several national and local acts for the first time and each one left me wanting more.

Cleveland’s Hope for the Hollow got things started with a bang. This five piece ensemble laid out a set that made those that followed have to elevate their game. It was my first time seeing this group who were inspired by the likes of Breaking Benjamin and the night’s headliner, Three Days Grace, but I was totally mesmerized by them. They delivered a crisp sound and exuded energy aplenty. It might have been my first look at the quintet but it certainly won’t be the last. Two thumbs up from this big guy.

Hope for the Hollow and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels performing at Ink in the Clink 2017. All photos taken by Larry Ritter/The Rust Belt Chronicles.

Hometown rockers, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, were up to the challenge that the predecessor left. Like the opener, I hadn’t had the pleasure of seeing DRS despite hearing so much about them. You name it they can do it, whether it’s good old fashioned rock, metal or hard rock. Riffs and licks galore with a thunderous rhythm section that is all pulled together by the marvelous vocal work of Jake Besenti. I’m told they have a tremendous following around the local scene and I understand why. I may sound like a broken record (get used to it) but these guys are a must see.

Two acts that call Columbus home, My Beloved and Grindhouse, were up next. Both bands continued to raise the bar with high energy and a little uniqueness.

My Beloved features the uber-talented Courtney Stone on lead vocals. To say the young lady has an amazing set of pipes would be a vast understatement. Not only can she unload a lyrical bliss, she is also incredibly entertaining as she bounces back and forth across the stage. Frank Thompson was superb with the six string while Sarah Thompson (bass) and Mikey Stiles (drums) are a formidable rhythm section.

My Beloved and Grindhouse playing at Ink in the Clink 2017. All photos taken by The Rust Belt Chronicles staff photographers Shannon 'Hammy' Hamilton and Larry Ritter.

My boys in Grindhouse always put on a good show and this day was no different. The foursome put their heart and soul into every set; and does so with a ton of experience. David Adams is not only a fabulous front man but he can make a guitar sing right along with him. Speaking of making sweet sounds with a guitar, fellow guitarist, Se7en, is pure magic with his weapon of choice. His riffs and licks are brilliant while his backup vocal work blends well with Adams and bassist, Byron Basham. Felixx Alvis brings everything together with his brutal assault on the skins. I’ve lost track to how many times I’ve seen Grindhouse but whatever the number, their act never gets old. The quartet also started a daily trend with their facial paint. Grindhouse was the first of five bands who added theatrics to enhance their performances.

A regional act out of Lansing, Michigan, Heartsick was up next and they are my choice of surprise band of the day. Obviously another first for me, this quartet blew me away with their heavy-hitting, in-your-face style. Lead man Alphonso Civile is as animated as any lead vocalist that I’ve seen. His antics on the stage would make a kangaroo envious. He solidified my thought when he called for the crowd to get closer to the stage and then took a header right into them. Now that’s rock-n-roll at its finest. The band that was backing him was just as active including guitarist Tim Drexler. I mention Mr. Drexler because his tickling of twine was impressive and made even more so after finding out that he was a fill-in that got the set down; unbelievably in less than a day. Drexler is a member of From Blue to Gray, a heavy metal bunch from Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. While I’ve never heard them live, I did check out their Facebook page and believe their sound is one you should check out for yourself.

Heartsick is one of those bands that you just can’t get enough of. They rock their guts out and have an awesome time doing so. That enthusiasm shadows the crowd and becomes contagious as you get wrapped up into the dynamic sound of this powerful quartet. If I had more than two thumbs I would most assuredly have them in the air. Heartsick is absolutely a must see if they are within driving distance, and by that I mean an overnight stay shouldn’t be out of the question.

Heartsick and Dread Engine performing at 2017 Ink in the Clink. Photos by The Rust Belt Chronicles photographers Shannon 'Hammy' Hamilton and Larry Ritter.

Dread Engine, who earned a spot on the main stage after finishing among the top three bands in the Battle of the Bands, made their presence known moments later. DE is another Columbus band that I have been privileged to see on many occasions. However this was the first time with Brian Kuhn sitting high atop the risers. The former 8LB Pressure drummer had his war paint on and accompanied it with his ‘A’ game. He was truly beast like as he pounded his kit into submission.

Sam Stockdale and Rick Kaercher displayed their cohesiveness with spot on vocals while Tommy Sartin and Jake Spears teamed up with perfection on the guitars. Jonathon Collins matched Kuhn’s intensity with his bass.

Longtime local favorite, Autumn Burning, was the final area band to play and they filled the spot nicely. Using a revamped lineup, AB knocked it out of the ball park as usual. Mike Morehouse is an outstanding lead vocalist with a vocal range to cover the whole gamut but specializes in straight forward, in-your-face rock. Jeff Welch moved from the thumping of the bass to the beating of the drums and didn’t miss a beat (pun intended). Blake Darling was his machine-like self with his trusted guitar while Jared Blazer was his machine-like SeIf on lead guitar. I know the guys are playing in Fostoria this Saturday night for a benefit to help educate people about heroin addiction;  you should check them out. I know I’ll be there!

Autumn Burning and Adelita's Way playing at 2017 Ink in the Clink. All photos taken by Erica Lenhoff/The Rust Belt Chronicles (

Adelita’s Way was the first national act of the day and they did a tremendous job of keeping the crowd amped up. Their set featured “Notorious”, the latest single from the album by the same name. They also performed “Ready for War” from the same release as well as “Sick” and “Criticize” off of the 2011 ‘Home School Valedictorian’. 2009’s “Invincible” capped off an incredible half hour stint.

Davey Suicide out of Hollywood, California or as they say Unholywood, Killafornia, set the crowd on fire with their self-proclaimed gutter Goth rock. They, like Grindhouse, used facial makeup and elaborate garb to give a unique visual effect. They matched that with a sound reminiscent of the arena rock era with an added heavy punk twist. Being the first time seeing them live I wasn’t sure what to expect but I left pleasantly surprised. Davey Suicide was worth seeing and I look forward to the next time.

Davey Suicide and Gemini Syndrome performing at Ink in the Clink 2017. All photos taken by The Rust Belt Chronicles staff photographers Shannon 'Hammy' Hamilton and Larry Ritter.

One of the bands that I was really looking forward to watching graced the main stage when Davey Suicide was finished and that was Gemini Syndrome. Lead vocalist Aaron Nordstrom is an amazing singer and knows how to work a crowd. He was at the top of his craft on this afternoon as he belted out hits like “Eternity”, “Basement” and “Stardust”.

Drummer, Brian Steele Medina, and bassist Alessandro Paveri are as intense as they are talented. Daniel Sahagun teamed up with former band member, Mike Salerno, who was making a special guest appearance, for a riff-laden set on the guitars.

And then there were six.  

Emily Lazar is the centerpiece to September Mourning’s unique artistic setting. September (Lazar) is a fictional human grim reaper character whose musical aspect heightens the tale that is brought to life through online comics as well as webisodes. The presentation, while different, is an explosive thing of beauty that will rock you to your core.

Lazar’s vocals are remarkable with the band behind her displaying just as much talent. Rich Juzwick and Kyle Ort had the six strings screaming while Josh Fresia manhandled the skins. SM is definitely worth the price of admission whether headlining or playing a festival.

September Mourning and Starset at Ink in the Clink 2017. All photos taken by Larry Ritter/The Rust Belt Chronicles.

Columbus’ own Starset presented their twist of rock on the swelling mob. The four piece clan was joined by a violinist and a cellist to add to the already elaborate setting. Starset churns electronic with a mix of symphonic to produce a musical orchestration with an aesthetically mesmerizing backdrop.

Starset set out on their voyage in 2013 and released their debut ‘Transmissions’ in July of 2014. Dustin Bates captains the ship with mates Ron DeChant (bass), Brock Richards (guitar) and Adam Gilbert (drums). The space dressed quartet continued their journey with their latest LP “Vessels”. With the exception of a minor technical difficulty mid-set, their performance was out of this world.

Two heavy hitters who are very familiar with each other, Motograter and 40 Below Summer, closed things out on the second stage and did so by melting the faces of the fans. These two bands have been around in some various incarnations for nearly twenty years. In fact Motograter actually got started in 1995 while the 40 Below Summer guys started three years later. Both groups are as entertaining a band as there is on the music scene today.

Motograter is perhaps best known for their body paint and the musical instrument by the same name. The apparatus creates a bass like sound and is made out of cables and guitar parts. They used that along with their raw melodic power to unload an explosive set that featured their latest hit “Dorian” which is climbing the mainstream charts. The band hung around an extra couple of days to work on a video for said song and we (The Rust Belt Chronicles) were privileged enough to see it unfold. Believe when I say it’ll behoove you to check out the song as well as the video when it’s completed.

Motograter and 40 Below Summer performing at Ink in the Clink 2017. All photos taken by The Rust Belt Chronicles photographers Shannon 'Hammy' Hamilton and Larry Ritter.

Like Motograter, 40 Below Summer, is a grind it out, smack the listener in the face type of band and that was on full display as lead vocalist, Max Illidge, grabbed the crowd from the opening note and didn’t release his grip until the final chord of the set.

40 Below Summer’s night was highlighted by a guest appearance by Heartsick’s Civile who coupled with Illidge to ring out, or should I say slam, Fuck Everything, which opened up the pits. Intense doesn’t even begin to describe the energy that the duo resonated over the crowd. It was quite the setup for the final act of the night, Three Days Grace.

Before the Canadians brought the curtain down on the day’s festivities, 10 Years adorned the main stage. The Knoxville, Tennessee quintet who has been doing their thing since 1999, blasted old favorites like “Minus the Machine”, “Beautiful” and “Shoot It Out” before closing things with their mega-hit “Wasteland”. Jesse Hasek (lead vocals) and the rest of 10 Years were fabulous as always.

Three Days Grace definitely has a different sound from the first time that I saw them live in July of 2004 when they opened for 3 Doors Down and Nickelback at Blossom Music Center. Of course Adam Gontier was the lead singer at the time and he has a distinct voice that is undeniably easy to recognize.

Gontier has since moved on to Saint Asonia and Matt Walst, formerly of My Darkest Days, has stepped into the vacant roll. Matt is the brother of TDG bassist Brad.

10 Years and Three Days Grace on Saturday at Ink in the Clink 2017. All photos taken by The Rust Belt Chronicles staff photographers Shannon 'Hammy' Hamilton and Larry Ritter.

Walst’s vocals are not as distinguishable as that of Gontier but he holds his own. For example My Darkest Days’ “Porn Star Dancing” is one of my favorite singles over the past decade. He has put his stamp on the newer material like “Painkiller”, “I am Machine” and “Human Race” which have all done well on Billboard‘s various charts. All three of those are excellent tunes to witness live. However, the older stuff just isn’t the same without the original front man. But I’m not going to hold that against the band because musically the threesome behind Walst is still intact and they are as talented as any band to ever hit the stage.

TDG were on top of their game on this particular evening and put quite an explanation point on the day.

You know I tried like hell to find something negative to say about the second day of Ink in the Clink and there were only two things that I could come up with an both lasted just a millisecond. The first was the little hiccup during Starset’s appearance which was taken care of in a timely manner.

And the other negative was that the day had to come to an end. But the good news, there was still another day with a fantastic lineup to go.  

Once again I would be remiss in not sending kudos to Rick and Susan Fields for having the foresight to present such an amazing event. Justin Smith also deserves a big high five for all of the work that he puts into it as well.

That’s my lengthy review into Saturday’s happenings at Ink in the Clink 2017. Sunday’s is right around the corner along with an overall synopsis of the whole weekend. Until then this is Big L saying ‘keep those horns up and rock on!! \m/ \m/



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Larry Ritter About Larry Ritter

Hello my name is Larry Ritter, or “Big L” to most of my friends. I’m a production supervisor for a major manufacturer of auto parts here in northwest Ohio. I received an Associate’s degree from Owen’s Community College where I graduated cum laude honors. I have a true passion for music, sports, photography and riding motorcycles. My love for these things are surpassed by just one thing, family, which includes two sons, a daughter and eight grandchildren.

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