Throughout the whole day we thought to ourselves, “How the hell did we get into this situation?” Oh yeah, it must have been the series of cheap humor that we’ve made in the office for the several days leading up to an Insane Clown Posse concert. Yet, regardless of whatever put us in the crowd of juggalos [doing some outright psychotic shit at the show last night], you could bet your ass it was a sight to see. We both thought this specific show would be a good occasion to give you two different point of views in one review, so it’ll be a nice ride in the backseat while your boys tell you how it all went down.
Insane Clown Posse and their fans end up being the butt of a damning amount of jokes. The juggalo following that they inspire around them tend to be universally disliked by everybody, but past some rumors, we always wondered why this group sat at the bottom of the barrel. Under the layers of face paint and gallons of Faygo, these guys just make some watered down horrorcore. Even before we saw them, we were heavily curious to know what made Insane Clown Posse any worse than the other edgy artists from around that time (We’re looking at you Linkin Park). This made the 20th Anniversary of “The Great Milenko” tourstop in Dallas on October 12th the perfect night to find the core answer.
Before we can review their performance last night, it’s good to give a little introduction to the album itself (for those who haven’t been exposed to the grand ICP discography). The Great Milenko is an album that could be described as “fun” by juggalos specifically, yet it’s “edgy for the sake of being edgy, and it roasts the hell out of their core demographic (trailer trash)” for others. Let’s be real for a moment, most of the bars are…”What?”
“Toss me an axe, and I’ll toss you a dead chicken
Add a buck, you get a two-liter with em”
“Abracadabra boom shacka dae
I’m Violent J, and I’m back like a vertebrae”
It’s obvious that ICP throws out some lines for the sake of fun, but we aren’t too sure if any of their “deeper” messages really amount to anything. While some people may see some of their bars as insightful and smart, it mostly comes off as cringeworthy as other “conscious” rappers like Hopsin or Immortal Technique. The reason this isn’t mentioned as much is because it’s layered under so many sheets of irony and jokes that “The Great Milenko” could definitely be listened to without noticing any of this.
Once we arrived at The Gas Monkey Live, the sight to be seen was something incredible. There were probably more people on the patio smoking cigarettes than there were in attendance for the Raekwon show we went to a few weeks before. While not everyone had face paint, a fat amount of juggalos came prepared bringing their juggalo paraphernalia like hockey jerseys and chains with the Psychopathic record’s face all over them. Something that came as a big surprise to us was that a diverse set of people were in attendance. Sure, there was an amount of middle-aged white folks around us, but there were also people of different ethnicities and different backgrounds, from button-downed white-collars to the young wild teenage outcasts of many colors. We saw people bring their kids and perhaps grandfathers as well (Think about it, a nice family trip to see The Insane Clown Posse). Another thing we noticed almost right off the bat was the haze of various sorts that swallowed the crowd. If we had removed the clown paint and music, we would’ve almost been convinced that we had stepped foot into a vaping convention that had a cigarette-smoking section of shame. We happen to have entered when an opener from Psychopathic Records by the name of Lyte took the stage, and he laid down something interesting to say the least.
Youssef: With a fully automatic flow that went over any sort of heavy hitting beat (some resembling dubstep?), it was definitely something to pump up a juggalo kind of crowd. As an outsider peering in, it was really cheesy to see someone glorify the idea of being a psychopath, but that’s just my two cents. It left poor tastes of that one kid in my high school that made edgy off-colour comments during class to cope with external struggles. This show only taught me that the kid I described wasn’t a special case. The crowd was definitely more engaged with this opener than most openers i’ve seen (Shoutouts to the repeated “fuck you” chant that was led by Lyte, even though I didn’t see a reason for it).
Isaiah: Lyte had a flow so fast that I could acknowledge the particular skill, but I could barely understand what he was saying. A few tracks had me alright, but then some put me off because it gave me enough corn to make tacos with. Yet the crowd didn’t give a damn, they were having a hell of a time. I’m the type of cat that when a safe opportunity comes to experience something new, I say “damn right” and go straight on with it.
After Lyte’s set there was a brief intermission which included “FUCK THE WALL” chants from the DJ and the crowd before a surprise appearance by R.A. the Rugged Man and his crew. Hip-Hop heads are definitely aware of the one and only R.A. the Rugged Man: the emcee who rhymed side by side with Hip Hop sages such as himself like The Wu-Tang Clan and Notorious B.I.G. to name a few. He’s also known for mentoring prominent upcomers like A-F-R-O. Evidently he’s just in every nook and cranny when it comes to Hip-Hop, as seen by his special surprise appearance in the Insane Clown Posse’s “The Great Milenko’s” 20th anniversary tour.
Isaiah: It was almost as polarizing as King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard opening for Justin Bieber, but he made sure he came prepared to hype of crowd of juggalos by leading chants regarding “Juggalo Family Love” and for “The Real Hip-Hop”. R.A. came out asking the crowd “What y’all wanna hear, I got some music from 2010’s? 2000’s? Nah, fuck all that let’s take it back to the 90’s in Brooklyn” and that he did when he opened with “Every Record Label Sucks Dick”. He came with a crew of three that could all freestyle (even his DJ) better than the bars one would hear on Hot 97, which was all R.A. needed to get the crowd hyped for him.
R.A. the Rugged Man decided to get really personal with the juggalos by having an eager fan in the crowd come on stage, paint his face, and hype him up. Then touched it off by actually walking down in the crowd once in performing a song, keeping up with his quick flow while everyone tries to pat his back and shake his hand. He also took a notable moment to give a quick anti-shout out, that’s right, another “fuck you” to Jive records which according to the Rugged Man “fucked [him] and ICP over” way back when, geez a lot of fucks to go around last night, but that’s just how it goes down at an infamous ICP concert.
Youssef: I’ll be honest, I wasn’t too familiar with the Rugged Man, but he played well despite the fact that the crowd gave him the cold shoulder at first. Considering that he had a set to play around the time headliners usually come out, it was understandable. Rugged Man put forth a very good amount of energy in a show that he was easily the odd man out in, and I can’t really add much that Isaiah didn’t go over. One of the funniest things to see is the Juggalos try to mosh in a pit that was coated in spilled water and beer. Juggalo’s aren’t the nicest people to their venues, and it was cool to see a mosh pit verge on the edge of being a slip n’ slide
R.A. The Rugged man took off the stage at 11:30PM, you read that right 11:30. Raekwon ended shortly after 11:30, hell, Action Bronson ended his show shortly after 10. We simply understood that this show would run LATE. We kept checking at our phones for the time while still in the pit during intermission. It was looking worse by the minute, 11:42, 11:48, 11:54, then finally just around 12:00 The ICP revealed their clownesque faces.
Isaiah: Right when that curtain revealed Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope, there was this juggalo in a wheelchair who was parting the crowd like the Red Sea with each stride of the push ring. As soon as he reached the intended destination which was the very heart of the pit, he got knocked down from the side by all the moshing going down there. There actually seemed to be a natural phenomenon of people being knocked down or collapsing dramatically in the pit. Faygo and waters were airborne at all times creating a splash zone in the center. Then I look up again and there popped out a couple of Confederate flags carried by the (hype-clowns?) which definitely made me fall back a bit after seeing it for a second, I wasn’t really about all that.
I finally realized that I should probably get out of the crowd when the lights were flickering at such crude rate that I was getting dizzy even if I closed my eyes. There was a point where a juggalette came over to me and Youssef and began to crump to Violent J’s lyrics to “Down with the Clown”, but me and my guy didn’t know how to take it, so we backed the hell up. After seeing the lost and confusion on our faces, she stopped then came over to hug us and I realized it was all “just juggalo love”. I didn’t find too much to like during the actual Insane Clown Posse act, other than the actual act of experiencing another unique culture and seeing the bond between all of these people. I mean, Juggalos of many different backgrounds were getting down with all of it, so of course it’s something that’s cool enough to make peace with.
Youssef: For a moment, I could almost sympathize with the Juggalo kind. I remember times where I felt like an outcast, and I had finally found a group that I could call my own. Sure, we might not drink Faygo, or have any infatuations with psychopathic behavior/sharp blades, but I can understand having a friend group that’s a family away from family. After ICP came out on stage and launched countless bottles of Faygo into the crowd, I was at a disconnect. If ICP ordered their live performance of “The Great Milenko” in a way that would shake off any weak links early on, they perfected it. As someone who thought it was a pretty bad album, I could only take so many narrow misses with bottles of Faygo before I decided that my time up in the crowd had come to an end. The visual performance of Insane Clown Posse could only be described as “interesting”. They always had two crew members dancing in a very awkward manner on both sides of Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope. These guys would almost always be at the ready with Faygo to spray into the crowd. If you were thirsty during the set, it was almost guaranteed that there was a two liter that would eventually make it to you. The haze of Faygo in the air actually generated a familiar smell to me. It made me think of my time as a kid eating too many candy bottle caps and getting sick to my stomach. It was almost nostalgic, even though our family value soda of choice was Shasta. After the openers, Juggalos seemed like decently progressive people. When strobes came out full force, and there were Confederate flags waving behind them, I was just left thinking… “Huh?”.
Insane Clown Posse has not beat around the bush in the slightest in their opinion on the flag. They have a song that is completely about going through Alabama and killing KKK members. The part that confused me was that the flags flew up during a completely unrelated song, hell, “Confederate Flag” isn’t even on The Great Milenko. It made me pop the question in my head “If someone wasn’t a fan of these guys, wouldn’t they misconstrue the message?”. With flying bottles knocking people over and drenching them, heavy strobes that had the whole crowd at least glancing away from the stage, and edgy displays that are confusing to outsiders, how was the crowd still going crazy? At a surface level, they fit the demographic that ICP makes fun of perfectly, but does the crowd enjoy it ironically, or have they embraced it? The fans were truly dedicated on this one, and that alone justifies what ICP does. Why does ICP have to mature or develop as artists if they have one of the most intimate connections with their fans that any artist could ever have? Throughout the whole set, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope were completely comfortable on stage. They had some of the best banter with the crowd, and each other that I’ve ever seen live. This isn’t such a feat if your fans love you regardless of what you do though, right?
With each consecutive song, the helpers changed costumes. There were gorilla suits, there were even some minimal Faygo windbreakers (to whom it concerns, they actually looked super tight). When the huge basket ran dry of Faygo two litres, there were always helpers wheeling over a ton more to keep it stocked. By the time it came to the finale where a whole boatload of Juggalos and Juggalettes were on stage flooding the remainder of Gas Monkey Live with their highly coveted Faygo, I essentially had my foot out the door ready to move on.
Seeing Insane Clown Posse created a feeling that was strange. By the end of the set, I felt nasty in many ways. From feeling like a poser for attending an ICP show just at the idea of making a “think piece”, to literally feeling gross with all the Faygo on me, it’s odd that in the end we can’t say we regret the decision. Shows like The Flaming Lips will stick with us because those are bands that we love putting on shows with every ounce of energy that they possibly have in them, but shows like ICP will stick with us because regardless of how dumb the lyrics are, or how hostile of a crowd environment that they put out, there really isn’t anyone else like them. If you can see them, and you’re open to just about anything, We’d say it’s worth it.