red lights

Not Your Father's Circus

Eagles Ballroom
Mar. 3, 2001


Story and Photo by Phil Bonyata

If you were hoping for a sequel to the hilariously campy movie "Killer Klowns From Outer Space," Insane Clown Posses' bizarre stage antics and vulgar lyrics provided the script last Saturday night . The two rappers from Detroit, Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J and The Dark Carnival pitched their tents and opened up their freak show at The Eagles Ballroom in Milwaukee. This controversial act's creepy, carny stage set resembled a Salvador Dali childhood nightmare. Two gigantic, double-faced clown heads rotated constantly on poles, large twisted pulleys and gears with spirals, moved with no apparent purpose other than to make the stage look weirder. Or maybe it was to hypnotize the faithful into buying more merchandise downstairs.
Not since Marilyn Manson's "Antichrist Superstar" days has a band generated so much hatred among the religious right, parents and government officials. Heck, even good upstanding clowns are more offended by ICP then by Bobcat Goldthwaits biting satire "Shakes the Clown". Never mind that most of these critics never saw the film. Ironically, ICP has made record execs very happy and wallets very fat with the huge success of their recent releases.
ICP Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J exploded onto to the twisted stage and into their army of face painted fans known as Juggalos. As Shaggy ripped into "Dead Body Man" J started spraying the first thirty rows with Faygo Soda, a soda made in Detroit and commonly found in poor urban areas. This is a ICP staple! All throughout the show each rapper would rip open liters, upon liters of Faygo and drench everyone within range. No one was spared. Not the security guards, not the photographers and of course not the performers themselves.They must really have a thing for this sickenly sweet smelling liquid. They drenched everything and everyone to the left of them, everything to the right, everything in front, behind, below and above couldn't escape the dark liquids cheap embrace. To say it's not fun would be lying.
The Insane Clown Posse was created by, as J and Shaggy claim, both of them being visited by mysterious spirits of The Dark Carnival. The carnival phantoms wanted the two to spread six very special messages.The spirits say they need as many believers as possible before the end comes. Hence the clown make-up and the concept of releasing each magic message as an album. Each album will take on its own identity in the form of Jokers Cards. Each album preaching another one of The Dark Carnivals' messages to the world. Wow, what a marketing concept! What happens after the sixth message has been delivered? Probably a return visit by music execs, err The Dark Carnivals' phantoms telling the boys that they need to put out 12 more messages. Apparently The Dark Carnivals' original six messages didn't reach enough converts.
ICP have successfully blended hip hop, rap, bad taste and fused fat and heavy carnival beats into their music creating something that is almost original. Take away all the facepaint, Faygo and stage props and their music doesn't hold up that well. Like two carnival barkers, who couldn't give up the notion that they couldn't make it as real clowns, they jumped into fan favs like "Halls of Illusion, "Rainbows & Stuff" and the demented "Cherry Pie". With The Juggalos mix of face paint and Faygo dripping down their faces and their collective middle fingers saluting their misguided preachers, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope lifted the last two bottles of Faygo over their heads and returned the favor.
P.T. Barnum is rolling over in his grave. Or is he?

Return to Reviews
Return to Menu