Music News

Clowning Around

Insane. That was the scene this past Friday night at the Fillmore. The Clown was in town, and the Juggalos were in full effect.

"What's up, my Juggalo pissin' homeboys?" asked one guy as he flung open the door to the Fillmore's secret bathroom.

"If you're not down with the Clown," replied another cat standing next to me at the urinal, "I'm pissin' on your shoe."

I just winced -- my man was breaking basic bathroom etiquette, for crissakes -- and nodded, forcing an awkward smile. You know that line in "Walking in Memphis" when the lady asks Marc Cohn if he's a Christian and he says, "Ma'am, I am tonight"? Uh-huh, you get the picture.

I'd heard about Insane Clown Posse shows, of course, but had never actually seen one, because, well, it didn't exactly seem like my thing. Face paint, songs about stabbing folks and whatnot? No thanks, I'm trying to cut back. But last week, some tickets fell into my lap, and I figured what the hell. Part of the reason I was game was because the tix were in the Backbeat Lounge (named for this section, BTW), the swank, elevated VIP area; I've gotten those seats before, and they're so choice that even if you don't dig the band, it's worth going. Besides, underneath this gruff, bald, badass exterior, I'm really just a pussycat, and being ensconced in the wings meant that me and my man Biggie wouldn't be rubbing shoulders with the bloodthirsty savages -- or getting drenched with Faygo, for that matter. Rather, we'd safely observe the action from our enviable perch.

Not so much.

Turned out the Backbeat Lounge was closed, so we were left to our own devices, forced to mingle with the general population. After hitting the head and barely keeping my shoe dry, we found a spot in the back as Clown protegé Twiztid was finishing its set. The crowd was geeked, chanting along with every word. I can't remember the last time I've seen folks get so riled up over two MCs rhyming to pre-recorded beats. But as the twosome stalked the stage like caged tigers, everybody in the crowd lost their damn minds, all waving their hands in the air like they just didn't care, yo.

Between sets, we hopped outside for some fresh air. Within minutes, we were swarmed by Juggalos of every shape and size, and wound up pressed elbow to a-hole -- not the ideal situation for someone who suffers from claustrophobia. Just as I felt myself beginning to freak out, Big's buddy Josh showed up with a friend, who informed us that he'd spent the entirety of Twiztid's set in the pit. It was awesome, he reported: He got all vertical and shit, yet somehow managed to drink most of his Jack and Coke. As he was telling me this, I felt obligated to point out that he'd sweated off most of his face paint. But as I looked around, I realized that everyone else had, too.

We squeezed our way through the maniacal throng and made it back inside in time to catch the Clown. Red flashers illuminated the set, which looked like a rubber room (natch) in a slaughterhouse, with bodies dangling from rafters. It was an amazing spectacle: Imagine if Killer Clowns From Outer Space was dropped onto the set of Escape From New York with the cast of The Warriors. And after the first song, out came the Faygo -- bottles and bottles and bottles of the stuff. Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope drenched the first ten or so rows, then drop-kicked the half-empty bottles -- with some distance, I might add. One made it as far back as the soundboard.

With all that Faygo, those floors had to be stickier than a porn theater.

I couldn't imagine being tasked with cleaning the place, but the Fillmore must have known what it was in for. There were boxes around the two front chandeliers, and the others were draped with Visqueen, as were the walls in the balcony.

As for me, I knew what I was in for as well, which is why I split before the show ended. After seeing half a dozen songs, I got it. No question, I had a great time. I can't remember the last time I was so entertained. But just the same, I'll never be a fan. The wicked clowns aren't exactly splitting atoms, if you know what I mean; they're pedestrian and more than a little misogynistic.

Still, God bless those Juggalos. Sure, a great many of them look a little rough around the edges, like they could be future felons. But in a time when few acts are selling records, these diehards -- whose devotion makes the Claymates look fair-weather by comparison -- are single- handedly keeping the lights on at the Dark Carnival. Throughout the show, the line in front of the merch booth was four or five fans deep. Their antics may seem laughable to mainstream America, but the members of ICP are printing their own money and laughing all the way to the bank. Fact is, they're putting asses in the seats when no one else is.

Upbeats and beatdowns: Can I get a moment of silence for the passing of Drag the River? (My boy Whitey says he hasn't been this bummed since David Lee Roth left Van Halen, and I'm a little verklempt myself, so talk among yourselves.) Back in late March, when we were still trying to make sense of the fact that Spacey Casey wasn't with the band anymore, we caught wind that Jon Snodgrass had left the tour when Drag was on the road with Rocky Votolato. So many of us had feared this day would come, and now it has: Drag is no more. Snodgrass reports that he and Chad Price are still on good terms, Dave Barker has joined Votolato's band, and a fall Armchair Martian tour is on tap to commemorate the release of the Good Guys, Bad Band retrospective and Who Wants to Play Bass re-release on Suburban Home/Mars Motors.

Drag broke up as we were finalizing the Westword Music Showcase ballot (see page 62), which includes 119 more local acts that are alive and kicking (as well as the chance to write in more). Thanks to the input of over a hundred music enthusiasts, this is the best ballot yet -- just as the Showcase on June 16 promises to be. Seriously. The thing is stacked, Jack. Now it's up to you to vote for your faves, and we don't envy you that task. For instance, deciding between Vaux and Planes is like trying to choose which leg you could do without.

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Dave Herrera
Contact: Dave Herrera