Insane Clown Posse
Oct. 9, 2011
The City National Grove of Anaheim
What do photographers go through when asked to shoot Insane Clown Posse? I'm always down to shoot anything, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I'd heard of ICP before, of course, but it took their publicist to explain that their shows can get really wild.
I needed to be prepared for anything--especially the gallons of dark-colored, Detroit-based bargain soda that stained called Faygo sprayed into the crowd by clowns. An experienced ICP photographer prompted me and told me I had to "Faygo-proof" my camera, so as soon as I got off the phone I started searched for live ICP shows and started soaking up (pun intended), anything and everything that I could about Insane Clown Posse.
What they looked like, how they acted--and more importantly how their fanbase acted. I was pretty worried about my gear; I was told clowns have no regard for photographers in the pit when they spray and kick liters of Faygo soda into the thirsty crowd. So I headed for the Grove prepared for a war zone: plastic bags for my camera, plastic wrap for my lenses and speed light, and a ready for anything attitude.
It didn't take much to get the juggalos hyped; opener Blaze (in full face paint and blaring angry music) poured water all over one of the security guards; luckily, the guard was a Juggalo too, and he enjoyed every second of it! (Almost all the security guards were wearing ponchos so they wouldn't get wet.) At Twisted's set, the stage morphed into what looked like the interior of a mental hospital, with padded walls and wheel chairs filled with bloody cloth.
And then, ICP. Led by eerie circus music, a black curtain pulled back cued the entrance of the Talent, who rolled out the much anticipated Faygo cannons holding over 100 bottles.
The giant ICP letters lit up, and then Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope came onstage on tricked-out trikes, weaving in and out of the gallons of Faygo that was going to be poured onto the crowd.
Within seconds of Insane Clown Posse's opening notes, I was soaked in a shower of Faygo, leaving me sticky for days.
ICP had a strong energy the crowd fed off. Not only did I have to dodge soda spray, I also had to endure flying boots, fists, bare tits, other people's faces, and even the occasional body being thrown up from the crowd, which held a violent mosh pit.
Onstage, ICP and a small army of clown-costumed assistants firing off two-liter after two-liter of Faygo into the audience, drawing their ammo from huge gallon drums brimming soda; from which more bottles would appear magically.
I was subjected to no less than 13 separate Faygo showers over the course of the show, and around me all I could see was a mess of bobby pins, melting face makeup, and fans screaming the lyrics at the top of their lungs.
All in all, it was a good show. I was prepared for the worst and instead was greeted by many nice, face-painted individuals with friendly attitudes. For a group thats been putting out albums since 1992, they've never been more visible or respected by the same mainstream they've been mocked by all these years.
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Personal Bias: While I wouldn't pay to go to an event like this, I am thankful to have experienced the subculture and get great imagery out of it. And yes, I'm thankful I made it out alive.
Crowd: A group that looked like the worst parts of a goth, punk, gangster rap, rave, nu-metal genre had an orgy and produced a child--a Juggalo child. Before the show started there were already hostile Juggalos kicked out of the show. A Juggalo named Pyro Blaziac, who told me the venue wouldn't let him buy alcohol unless he took off his face paint. Uh, yeah.
Random Notebook Dump: To get in, the line was separated into male and female. The line for guys was five hundred strong. The one for girls? About three people long. (Thank god I have boobs!)
Overheard in the Crowd: Even before going inside the venue, the "whoop whoop" Juggalo call was everywhere. Numerous Juggalos were chanting "FAM-I-LY!" repeatedly. It was the first of the many times I heard it over the next six hours.