ED NOTE: Each year the old hippies in Black Diamond ask their neighbors, the survivalists, to keep an eye on the yurt so they can come to town for The Folk Life Festival. Folk Life takes place each Memorial Day weekend at the Seattle Center. This year while the Folk Lifers we having a stomp and yodel to an endless array of banjo solos another concert was taking place on the other side of downtown.
Our own Alaska Wolf Joe has the details.
Review: The Mighty Death Pop Tour, or, Faygo Armaggedon: A Tale of Two Fucks (not given.)
“It seems like ICP fans give a violent and terrifying impression [to most people], when they actually just go enjoy Guy Fieri rapping badly while being sprayed with soda.” –Anonymous
Violent J (Joseph Bruce) and Guy Fieri (Guy Fieri) are often compared together as being near look alikes, if not indeed odd impersonations of each other. Their voice is even on a similar register, with Violent J at more of a guttural high baritone and Fieri at a high pitched American tenor, despite the fact that vocally one sounds to be a classical ‘thug’ and the other has the beginnings of ‘American Television Host’ mixed with the sprouts of eminent douchebaggery. It is even true that, given the right circumstances, they could most likely get into a professional wrestling match. This is not a new thought of comparing the two. I had contemplated this while standing in the line to get in, which I did not know would take forty minutes.
The first thing that you will notice that deviates from the image of an Insane Clown Posse concert in your head is the fact that the makeup is not perfect. In fact, the makeup is awful. Genuinely. I did not know that clown makeup could be an imperfect art, but it is here. It reeks of absolutely amateurishness in every sense of the word.
I am waiting in the line, passing the twenty minute mark. I have already seen two pipes, but it was a mild incident compared to the rest of the day before; but now: a burst. “Eat up, motherfuckers!” and like that, three rainbow colored rice krispies (crispies? can never keep that straight) seem to appear out of these pocket less Juggalos. “Hey, you gotta enjoy life …” some sort of optimistic riposte to an unforeseen force. It’s beautiful, watching clown-face makeup people scarf down hash-oil soaked krispies. It’s all in an attempt to get them finished before entering, where apparently, they will kick you out if you have such things. A spliff/reefer/roach is slowly making its way down the line, it never directly touched hands with me but touched hands with everyone else. It’s as if to suggest ‘You don’t belong here’ spelled out in the vague essence of hemp smoke.
It’s unbelievable. Today I have consumed more second-hand smoke of anything than ever before. Most Juggalos seem to have a cigarette problem. This really merged well with the rest of the tobacco I’d experienced before today, which, by all accounts, was still far less than the amount of weed I’d experienced.
Eventually, I enter, after being pat down by what must be a set of TSA agents in their spare time with a look of utter contempt in their eyes. It’s a lackadaisical experience, which sort of sets the tone for the subpar violence of this concert. “It’s not likely anyone would genuinely bring a gun,” is the message, “but maybe they might have a knife – but we’ll let that slip, because we doubt they have enough ill will in them to use it.”
The space is small. As in, at any point you are less than 25 feet away from the stage. I’m hiding in the back balcony because it’s the clearest view of the performance, and I’m not interested in the herd on the floor for any shenanigans. The preshow acts become less and less eccentric. I will not note anything other than the two hours that took to get through them, because they are, as is the rest of this concert, a non-narrative experience, for differing reasons. I will note one though.
‘Kung-Fu Vampire’ was in fact a letdown. By all standards of the performance, I was far from enthralled. Because, and I doubted this was possible, Kung-Fu Vampire offered less than what was expected. Kung-Fu Vampire’s raps were not audible (he spoke the fastest of anyone tonight, despite looking the most sober) and his appearance was not flamboyant. His hair was in an exquisitely simple pomade back without being excessively long, his makeup was nothing more than eyeshadow, and there was certainly no clown makeup. He was wearing a red bowling shirt and slacks. Yes, a red bowling shirt. The sort of casual 50s kind of bowling shirt, as in rich middle aged white guy from that period.
The mere description of the name ‘Kung-Fu Vampire’ would indicate any myriad of possibilities – who knows what could be possible? – a Transylvanian Glam act that aspired to mix the aesthetics of Kung Fu movies as stage theatrics with ICP’s self-termed musical genre of ‘Horrorcore rap’, a black belt rapper whose entire act consists of downing a quart of Goat’s blood on stage, a soul musician who seems to have gotten entirely lost and is performing in an entirely wrong musical location and tour yet was eccentric enough to fit, a Chinese Zen master who does Insane Clown Posse covers … the possibilities were endless. I got an imitation of ICP by one man who given enough time could perhaps create a show as wholly theatric as theirs; but nonetheless, a novice. One could even tell from his related anecdote to the audience: “This is the only time I’ve played a city twice … make it fucking rock more this time!” [note: paraphrased.]
The last of the three pre-show acts, the Moonshine Bandits, the most audible of the night (a country rap group) had finally wrapped up. The fifteen minute excessive intermission has ended prior to the Insane Clown Posse’s final entrance. The stage is set: two tables of Faygo Cola (non-diet), a gigantic functioning (with lights) scary clown head at the back of the stage, two additional sets of lights, flamboyant colors of the walls even in the dark.
The lights go dark. They go up now, and the opening is an entirely unironic rendition of Fucik’s ‘Entry of the Gladiators’ done on an electronic toy piano (it’s very hard to describe that kind of sound). Their inspiration from the world of professional wrestling is most clear at this moment. I’m at a loss to see the stage, as arms in the air and there is no vision in between the constant fits of motion in the audience. That’s a bit of a lie, but they’re near impenetrable for the first minute. But then it starts, and oh my god, there is no pacing. There is no narrative sensibility, it just comes at you.
At first, when anyone (and even I) must have had the right context to even understand the words ‘Insane Clown Posse’ their immediate reference is going to be ‘Miracles’, the song that made the internet top 40 chart (in terms of memetic attention at any given moment) for the following lyric:
Fucking magnets, how do they work?
… much to the internet’s incredibly serious vanity and ire over having to correct scientific ignorance with barely educated scientific fact boiled to an everyman’s level, it was the perfect storm.
We don’t have to be high to look in the sky,
And know that’s a miracle opened wide. 1.
However, I was myself a bit surprised at the words here on the poster. “Witness the Faygo Armageddon.” I had intrepidly googled this days before, and the first video presented me a view of the end of the set, wherein Violent J is shooting blue Faygo out of a cannon on stage. Rationally I thought “Oh, this must be a special end of set thing where they go all out” and thought “Well, maybe they might throw some Faygo out into the audience once or twice beforehand.”
No. This is all fucking out Faygo from the start. Genuinely, I did not expect this much soda. The set started with it being thrown. And then it continued. And continued. And continued. And continued. And really, it never stopped or intensified at any point until the end – it became one continuous mass of it. This is the performance, for you see:
Nothing is audible. None of the lyrics. None of the fan’s screams. None of the music. Nothing. Just a wave of sheer noise with some motifs and themes that may come over (the word ‘fuck’, the word ‘faygo’, ‘juggalo’, repeated samples of music that is not themselves theirs, the sound of their voices, etc.) but I cannot remember a single lyric from them in the entirety of the night. None. Just sheer noise. But the theatricality of what they have, it is wonderful. I even gleefully joined in when thrown a bottle of Faygo and rang it around the top of my head as if an aspergillum to these proceedings, while shouting ‘Whoop Whoop’.
The apex of the night, as shrill as anything else that comes from this belongs to the ending, which like all dramatic ironies has been promised to us from the beginning. As surely as we know that Oedipus will find out his incestuous deeds, we will experience the Faygo Armageddon. And it occurs.
The fans flood the stage, and it climaxes to a cascade of Faygo running over the audience in all directions, one man has become almost entirely naked and is drowning himself in a pure flood of Faygo. Dousing himself, emptying bottle over body over his flabby and beer bellied body. It is a disgustingly American display of pure and unadulterated ecstasy.
Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope have disappeared elsewhere. The lights come up. There is no afterthought, epilogue, or curtain call. And then the most beautiful view of the flooded floor comes up. There is no more resolution to the matter, the apex is left untouched as a testament to the work that occurred before. These are masters of performance, not of deep human sensibility, and the act is well solidified after being around for 24 years.
1. More commonly: The elephant/tightrope/circus music; but I feel that (and not in a pretentious way) the fact that Fucik remained an almost entirely unknown composer except for one bizarrely situational piece that is now being used by the Insane Clown Posse as entrance music is an exceptionally beautiful irony.
2/4.Novel. More commonly: The elephant/tightrope/circus music; but I feel that (and not in a pretentious way) the fact that Fucik remained an almost entirely unknown composer except for one bizarrely situational piece that is now being used by the Insane Clown Posse as entrance music is an exceptionally beautiful irony.
“Insane Clown Posse Performs Complete Annihilation at The 13th Annual Gathering [FAYGO ARMAGEDDON]”
Youtube. User: SOSEntGroup. September 3, 2012. May 26, 2013.
Of minor interest: I had been told earlier that, when touring out of country (eg. Europe, Australia) Coca-Cola, Pepsi, or other local products are used in place of Faygo for some reason regarding Faygo itself being unable to be used by themselves in such mass quantity. I am myself curious as to how much they must carry around with themselves after seeing the concert.