I quickly, albeit inadvertently, revealed that I was an outsider, one of the only inside the packed Fillmore Auditorium Friday night that wasn’t down with da clown. I began clapping after the first song by the veteran Detroit based horror-rap group Insane Clown Posse, quickly realizing that bringing your hands together was not the appropriate way to show gratitude toward this group. A hybrid cheer-chant that can best be described as a mix of “whoop!” and a dog bark was instead repeated 10-15 times by the entire crowd.
I felt like I had stumbled into the bar scene from “Star Wars.” The music was loud and the crowd and performers where dressed in a way that would give any small child nightmares for the foreseeable future. The ICP faithful, nicknamed Juggalos years ago by the band, wore face paint and their officially licensed costumes as badges of honor. No one at the show would be offended by this paragraph. Rather, they’d take it as a compliment.
The stage was as much a part of the show as Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope (the performing personas of the duo that makes up ICP). The 50 minutes minutes that separated the opener’s exit and the headliner’s entrance was used in full by that night’s stage hands. The “Dark Carnival” on stage was complete with spinning hatchet wheels, a caged gorilla (who danced, made lewd gestures, flipped the crowd off, etc.) and the periodic appearance of dancing, demonic-looking clowns armed with two liter bottles of Faygo soda.
ICP waited about 10 seconds into their set before they started launching shaken, carbonated, corn syrup-flavored missiles into the crowd. This would have been amusing if it was a novelty during one song, maybe two, but the monsoon continued for the entire performance. By the end of the set the band had gone through seemingly hundreds of bottles. The display makes the front row at a Gallagher or Shamu performance feel like a dust bowl compared to what the audience in the Fillmore’s first few rows endured.
Many in the crowd left the venue clutching empty, incredibly sticky Faygo bottles like priceless souvenirs. It was as if they had just caught a walk-off home run to end game seven of the World Series. That was not that unusual. Anything even remotely associated with ICP is a coveted treasure for Juggalos and Juggalettes. The band has managed to build a massive merchandising empire that would make Disney execs behind Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers blush.