Mettal Maffia performs live at Mansfield Music Fest
Mettal Maffia, an independent hybrid metal band from Youngstown, Ohio, headlined Saturday night at Mansfield Music Fest.

MANSFIELD — The sounds within a music festival are the finished products of the artist, but it’s important to examine the process and pain behind the art.

All of that suffering-turned-audio brilliance was on display on the two outdoor stages of Mansfield Music Fest (MMF) at Snow Trails ski resort on Saturday, headlined by Mettal Maffia of Youngstown, Yung Mosh of Cincinnati and Exitwounds from Indianapolis.  

Everyone wants the story of the band or performer they saw “before they blew up” and Yung Mosh is currently that artist, as he has continued to create within a new genre and his 69,000 follower-base on Instagram is only growing.

“My name is Yung Mosh. You already know what the name means. I go in that mosh pit and get hyped, trap metal, baby. That’s a new movement that’s coming on, get hyped to it,” Mosh said.

Yung Mosh at MMF on Saturday.

It’s all the unique music mashups that make MMF not only accessible to a lot of different ears, but allows you to experience it all, live, in your north central Ohio backyard. 

Hip hop and metal/punk fans tend to get along really well, but they generally don’t play two styles of music at the same time. So let’s break down Mosh’s influences on the trap side (referring to the old Atlanta slang word of a trap house, a.k.a. a place where you sell drugs). 

“So in the trap world, we got Trippy Red, we got Travis Scott, we got 21 [Savage], Young Thug,” Mosh said, who got his first tattoo at the Inkcarceration music festival in Mansfield years ago. 

GALLERY: Saturday night at Mansfield Music Festival | Photos by Zac Hiser

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I felt like mentioning that Scott’s new album that dropped a couple weeks ago was weak borderline trash, but I was intimidated by Mosh’s black flak jacket, muscular frame and even his socks, that had the starfish Patrick from SpongeBob on them, because those socks seemed crazy and being nuts is even more frightening than being mean. 

Keep scrolling for more on the headliners, but here’s a chronological recap of every band that performed on Day 2:

Vaundoom slaughtered the start of the day with transformative hip hop that encouraged the listener to be inspired and find change within their grind. The duo of Live 95 made a cameo to the Henry Screen Printing Stage 2, and DJ Dro Jack was the fire behind the beats and turn tables.

Orchestrating all that flow didn’t just happen. 

“I kind of like have a certain sound that I know that I’m gonna use before a certain drop, but then it’s like, sometimes, you can’t plan it. The crazier the sound effects, the better,” Dro Jack said. 

But what sounds, specifically? What was driving and molding the mid-Ohio DJ scene? 

“Dubstep, drum and bass, techno music, hip hop. Deep bass, you know, 808s, ’cause the bass, that’s the heartbeat. And without a heartbeat, you dead, you know, the harder the hitting sounds, it’s the more wake you feel,” Dro Jack said. 

Thuh Koz with DJ Dro Jack.

My co-worker Zac Hiser and I had matching Vaundoom “Curse of Man” album cover T-shirts and looked like matching twin dorks from some corny online publication.

On the Richland Source Stage 1, Middling band performed in a constantly convulsing state of raw thrash. Their music is the moment of relief you get when you cough up something you were choking on – and I say that in the most complimentary way possible.

The metal and scream “core” variations want you to feel that sense of dread and death, but through the song you realize everything is going to be OK. The non-mic screams they do personify what un-cut metal should be. 

Lyrically, there were mental health questions about moving on, was everyone OK and doing well on their own? 

You know the brain smile feeling, like when you find a certain lost puzzle piece and insert its cardboard edge into the then-finished design? Oddepoxy’s music is the recreation of that brain grin: the rhythm, the pattern, the calm completion of a set of notes, that reassuringly repeats.

Within their extreme playful and youthful exuberance, with the tarp-covered stage set against the big green hill of Mt. Mansfield, the duo of Lee McIntosh and Orie Rush had figured out a way to transform fractals into music – the endless veins of a leaf, we finally know what those wires sound like. And they have the most fun of any artist while they are doing it. 

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Back to Stage 1: Freshly constructed with bright yet-to-be-weathered wood, under an A-frame ski lodge, windows reflecting the backs of the musicians and the crowds in the flat grass out front, Faster on Fire (FOF) opened with a Misfit’s cover of Hybrid Moments. 

“Faster On Fire is influenced by Midwest Punk. We’re named after an Alkaline Trio song, we love the Menzingers and Free Throw and Modern Baseball,” FOF drummer Alex Gabor said. 

Gabor even had the Alkaline Trio logo of the heart skull on his arm — wish I would have seen that before I lost an argument on the order of their early albums. We could both agree, however, that Clavicle was one of their best cuts.

FOF bassist had a Mighty Ducks (from the movie) hockey jersey on and looked like a strawberry blond viking you wouldn’t want to see land on your shore with a two-headed axe. Until he smiled, anyway, like when the band was referencing “pre-tay, pre-tay good” from Curb your Enthusiasm, before they played a terrific cut of “Make a Note.” 

Faster on Fire’s bassist

Initially, I made a note about the lead singer looking like a sexier version of Bud from Married with Children and the guitarist was the last person still lookin’ clean with the side-shaved long hair from the Nine Inch Nails 90s, but they may think I was being sarcastic and come beat me up, so doubt it will make the story.  

“Tell me about romance in your writing and your songs. Because you can’t be named after Alkaline Trio and not have some romance in your writing, right?” I asked. 

“Uh, there’s really not a lot of romance in our writing,” Gabor said. 

“What?!?!?” I said.

“It’s mostly just sad. We’re anti-romance, really,” Gabor said. “We’re just sad, heartbroken fellas. Well, I dunno, John is happily married [laughs].”

Fests are a great opportunity to hear songs that haven’t been released or may even change by the time they are actually recorded. Thuh Koz gifted MMF attendees with just that with unreleased tracks that had all the hills at Snow Trails bobbing and nodding.

The power hip-hop duo of Jay and Tika have themes about hypocrisy and not judging before you look at yourself. But also, as they are a couple, songs about love. Tika asked everyone to raise their hands if they were in love, and you could see that positivity infectiously spread through the crowd, stationed between the old barn loft and the ski patrol lodge. 

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By the way, I totally had my hand raised, like the highest, in case my cellmate asks. Also, I got my pass ripped by ski patrol when I was a kid in ‘93 just for being out of control and going super fast and violently smashing into some ladies at the base of Mt. Mansfield and I’m still plotting my revenge.

Vacay gets stuck in my head for days every time I hear it live, and the video slays. (Sorry, I used slay). 

Let us stop for a moment to appreciate the legend himself, Austin Moore, the humble orchestrator of the festival, and get his thoughts on this year’s fest:

“Better layout this year and just like seeing people I’ve not seen here before is pretty cool,” Moore said. 

“Have you gotten a chance to relax yourself, enjoy some of this?” I asked.

“No [laughs]. I got like five hours of sleep last night, so…” Moore said. 

Making Mansfield be at the heart of the fest has always been the top priority for Moore. 

Most metal fans can all agree that Paranoid by Black Sabbath is an absolute metal anthem, and 7th Advent Unicorn kicked off their set with that ballad. Darkness was lurching over the hills of the ski resort and 7th ensured good clean rock-n-roll was still echoing off the pavement of Possum Run road.

It was the same energy and fire from Pandemic Wave. More armies would win more wars if they listened to Pandemic Wave as they marched into battle.   

Devy Kay was added to the lineup after an injury to the hand/arm of one of the Under Substance members, who is also the brother of Kay. The reality is Kay can flow, in terms of matching the metronome with the right syllables and pace, iambic pentameter-like. He’s dedicated and trying to find his place, as a white rapper, in the hip-hop metropolis. If Kay continues to go deeper, once we really hear the life of Kay, we’ll know his place. 

If the Beach Boys got in bar fights and did drugs that left drips in the back of throats, they would have changed totally and sounded like the modern-day band Birds Cage. (Don’t try and make sense of what the name means without an apostrophe. They have a neat stuffed yellow bird they bring that sits in a cage and they have super cool fans and real girlfriends [not from Canada] and oh ya, play awesome rock-n-roll.)

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Frontman “Bird” warned the kids and audience that smoking influences vocals, and since he was a more hardcore smoker, it was more of a challenge. 

On the music side, timing is always crucial in a four-piece band – and even though they come off as rockers that were too cool for perfection, they coalesced perfectly, and if there’s apathy around timing it’s because they think time should be more concerned about them, not the other way around. 

The guitarist for Exitwounds was more like a ballerina or a figure stater in terms of instrument-spinning grace within a tight space than a hardcore band member. He admitted after the show that he has taken out drums and other things with spinning and thrashing, but on Saturday night, it was all performative perfection. 

The thing that made Exitwounds so enjoyable was the purity, bereft of little gimmicks or extended solos or 10 minute breakdowns – they are there to break you down, bring the aggression and let the pit sort it all out. 

The night couldn’t have ended with better visual theatre than what was produced by Mettal Maffia

After the show, I commented to Maffia frontman Bob Hacker that of course the music was awesome, but the choreography of nine people on stage was really impressive. 

Mettal Maffia’s choreography on stage.

“That still does it for me, too, looking over and everyone [the whole band] all together like that,” Hacker said, wearing a Heath Ledger joker shirt.

The entire band had a dark green-and-black color scheme that echoed the chaos of the DC character they were idolizing. 

The slurring and skunk smells had taken over as lights glowed in different ways depending on what had been consumed, and The Afrxnts closed out the evening with a lodge show.

The band Firefly joined the group and after all the madness and music produced through all the pain and blood, it was nice to unwind to the air flowing through the instruments of The Afrxnts and Firefly, letting the mind and soul drift along the walls of the lodge. 

“I’m doing this to bring everyone together. We can make a huge movement and show the whole world we can get along and love the music that we enjoy today,” Mosh said.

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Digital Marketing Director for Source Brand Solutions / Source Media. Also I write and climb mountains. Wine is cool.