- ICP: Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope
For the uninitiated, the Insane Clown Posse is a contemporary, impossibly dumbed-down rap version of Alice Cooper. You could call it Grand Guignol with a frontal lobotomy — the group and all that it embodies are beyond mere, everyday stupidity. This is a stubborn, aggressive stupidity. It is akin to what filmmaker Werner Herzog called the “frightening” and “bottomless” and “fiendish” stupidity of chickens. It is a stupidity so pernicious it threatens to paralyze the mind of even the passive observer, rendering him mute with dull horror.
To briefly recap the ICP's career, the nucleus of the group — Joseph Utsler, a.k.a. Shaggy 2 Dope, and Joseph Bruce, a.k.a. Violent J — formed in 1992 in Detroit. They put out several albums (or “joker cards” as they call them) full of mindless, thudding rap-rock about drugs and dead bodies and filled with allusions to a quasi-theological bit of flimflam known as the Dark Carnival. Utsler and Bruce also started an annual music festival, appeared in a straight-to-video film, launched their own wrestling league and built a merchandising empire that is surpassed only by the KISS Army in terms of branding strength and sheer volume. Oh, and choke on this one: according to the Detroit Free Press, they each make about $10 million a year.
Despite, or perhaps because of, this potent socio-musical mishmash, ICP managed to amass legions of like-minded folk, who came to be known as “Juggalos” (the females are called “Juggalettes”). They consider themselves to be a family. They've formed Juggalo-only dating and social networking sites, and even their own faith (from www.juggalofaith.com: “Attention North Carolina Juggalos and Lettes!!! We have a homeless, pregnant Lette who needs a place to stay even if temporarily, Can anyone help???”).
And they're everywhere. Several hundred Arkansas Juggalos filled the Village to capacity last Sunday night.
The ICP and Juggalos have chosen, for whatever reason, to align themselves with Faygo, an inexpensive, regional soda from Michigan. The band and their cadre of stage clowns sprayed hundreds of gallons of the stuff all over themselves and the audience during the course of the show, launching the half-full bottles into the crowd. Violent J seemed especially adept at punting the 2-liter bottles. Within minutes, the smell of root beer was thick in the air. A crushed, empty Faygo bottle tossed from one of the ICP is probably a powerfully fetishistic item for a Juggalo to have on his dresser. One unassuming fellow made a positively athletic dive in order to snatch one. But all that soda spraying everywhere begs the question: how has no one been electrocuted at an ICP show yet?
The overall vibe of the show can be summed up by one of the band's lyrics: “Fuck critics, fuck your review, even if you like me, fuck you.” That's from the fun little ditty, “Fuck The World,” that tells off everyone — the Beastie Boys, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Oprah, your mom, your mom's momma, Forrest Gump, all 52 states and even Violent J himself. Most of the crowd sang along with every song while favoring that bouncy, up-and-down pointing thing that people do at shows like this.
But what are the Juggalos pointing at?
Maybe that's just it: it doesn't matter. They're pointing at everything and nothing at the same time. Fuck the world. Fuck your parents. Fuck good taste. Let's put on some ridiculous makeup and enormous pants and go listen to terrible music together. And they looked like they had a blast doing it.