I made my best effort to go into this concert with an open mind. We’ve all heard the stories about Insane Clown Posse and their fans (known as “Juggalos”), and a lot of us have had a laugh at their expense. Recently, an interview published in The Guardian was passed around the Internet to show the rest of the world what many Juggalos already know: the rappers from Detroit are evangelical Christians. Their recent hit song, “Miracles'” has forever ruined the word “magnets,” much like Dave Chappelle ruined Rick James. Still, I was ready to write a positive review if the show called for it.
And, in fact, here is a positive review of the Insane Clown Posse show at First Avenue. I can’t believe it myself.
As I walked up to First Avenue, it looked like a lot of stereotypes about the group and their fans were well-founded. A concerned First Avenue employee wondered aloud why a couple Juggalos were shaking a tree outside the venue. “I know it’s not really our tree…but still.” When I stepped inside, things didn’t get much better. Most of them had clown paint on, almost all of them had Insane Clown Posse shirts on. They were all different, but the same, like snowflakes. Appropriately, ICP had the biggest merch booth I’ve ever seen at First Avenue.
I walked upstairs a little frightened, but that was about to change. The Juggalos upstairs were pretty friendly and open. They collectively call themselves “family,” and that was apparent. Everyone was talking to everyone. A guy walked up to me and introduced me to two girls sitting next to me, even though he didn’t know them himself. The two girls ended up being a mother-daughter Juggalo pair, and before you ask, yes, we did share a round of Jag bombs. (Or should it be “Jug bombs”?)
The opening group, Ax Murder Boyz, took the stage. I found the name of this band to be pretty ironic considering Insane Clown Posse’s push to distance themselves from several recent violent attacks attributed to their fans. While the Boyz were certainly not the best rap act I’ve ever seen, they were also not the worst. They were surprisingly good, and it makes one wonder if they might have a bigger fan base if their name didn’t start with “Ax Murder” and end with “Boyz.” They were a perfect warm-up act, and they got the crowd pumped up for the main event.
Another thing that Insane Clown Posse gets a lot of flak for is the ICP’s love of Faygo and spraying it all over their crowds. It was a hilarious sight inside: First Avenue employees were wearing hats, hoods, garbage bags, and shower caps to stay dry. Photographer Meredith Westin had her purse and camera wrapped in plastic bags. A Juggalo told me before the show that they do “all kinds of tricks” with the Faygo and that they are “better than Tom Cruise in Cocktail.” I think he may have been right.
There are no words I can use to accurately describe how much Faygo was sprayed. There were four barrels filled with two-liter bottles of Faygo on stage. There were three or four dancers/sprayers who were refilling the barrels constantly, but only when they weren’t spraying Faygo all over the crowd themselves. Like the Juggalo I spoke with promised, they had all kinds of tricks, including behind-the-back, punt, and long spray. It was surprisingly entertaining. I was able to escape all but a few drops of the sprayed Faygo, but several times an errant Faygo-covered Juggalo left a sticky residue on my arm as he or she passed. The flow was pretty much constant throughout the entire hour-long set. After the Posse played their final song, they did a Faygo-nale that lasted a few minutes.
I am not very familiar with ICP’s music, and they did not play either of the two songs I do know (“What Is A Juggalo” and “Miracles”). The crowd was obviously very familiar with the material—many of the Juggalos were singing along, word for word, for the entire concert. The Posse played a high-energy set, and the young crowd returned the favor by being loud and excited throughout, despite (or, more likely, because of) being constantly showered in Faygo.
All in all, it is with great shock and surprise that I admit I had a decent time at this show. I don’t think I would ever pay $25 for it, but I have certainly suffered through plenty of worse shows at First Avenue. Insane Clown Posse easily could have taken a more mainstream path and probably enjoyed much greater success, but instead they did it their way. They and their “family” of Juggalos are understandably mocked, but they don’t seem to care, and that’s what I like most about them.