Reviewed on Saturday December 7
“The most hated band in the world” would be a tough cross for any band to bear. Regardless, for Detroit duo Insane Clown Posse, it’s a label they’ve worn with pride for over two decades now. Ten years since they last paid a visit to their cult-like Juggalo following in Australia (a fanbase as devoted as they are maligned), it was high time for Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope to bring their touring carnival of darkness, hip hop and orange-flavoured soft drink back to our shores.
Walking into The Hi-Fi, I’m greeted by a sea of painted faces and ICP insignia – both on merchandise and tattooed onto the skin of hardcore fans. With a band as polarising as the Posse, there’s a certain level of authenticity felt in the crowd; no fair weather fans here, just a thousand folks who are, without a fraction of doubt, down with the clown. Despite this, there’s an overwhelming sense of egalitarianism present. Free of posturing or any air of elitism, punters are here simply to embrace a collective identity that’s more often than not a prime subject of derision. You want to talk underground? Counterculture? Juggalos are the definition of an outlier, and with that comes a sense of family.
Warming up the crowd, openers Kidcrusher, Big Hoodoo and Boondox imitate the aesthetic and style of ICP while toning down the more theatrical elements. It’s enough to get patrons excited – the fact that many are able to recite each artist’s lyrics back at them is testament to ‘horror-core’ as a legitimate genre in and of itself.
Circus music blares over the speakers as J and Shaggy take the stage armed with a small crew of clown-masked provocateurs. There’s no DJ, nor live instruments to be found, and if we’re being honest, there’s no pretense of ‘musicianship’ either – Insane Clown Posse are, first are foremost, performers. And perform they goddamn do. Over the next hour and a half, the colourfully intense stage show becomes impossible to look away from. It’s soon apparent this is no half-arsed hip hop show – this is the works. As J and Shaggy work through a back catalogue spanning a dozen albums, they demonstrate both their battle-forged chemistry as well as undeniable knack for enthralling a crowd.
Props, handled by their masked stagehands, are aplenty. For ‘Chicken Huntin’’, the help douse the crowd in feathers. For ‘Fuck The World’, they bring out two figures in cloaks to stand on either side of the stage, completely frozen but for their middle fingers raised. This all adds to the sheer chaos and revelry of what’s going on. Oh, and yes, there’s Faygo. Gallons upon gallons of Faygo – or at least its Aussie equivalent. As bottles fly from the stage across the venue, there’s an inexplicable sense of solidarity. We are the drenched, we are the sticky, we are family.
“For years, they’ve been hoping we die, praying we would die,” declares Shaggy 2 Dope between songs. “We’re not dead yet, motherfuckers!” Regardless of one’s thoughts on their music or lifestyle, the entity that is Insane Clown Posse and their fanbase are alive and kicking – and what’s more, they know how to have a damn good time.
BY BLAKE GALLAGHER