Ringside Look At The Insane Clown Posse

Crowd leaves soaked in Faygo soda, but thirsty for more.

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Insane Clown Posse are, well, insane. They're even

pretty good showmen with some funny lyrics and boundless energy. But when it

comes to musical talent, they come up empty.

Drawing largely from their controversial major label debut, The Great

Milenko and mixing in a few of their older -- if you can call them that --

songs, the Insane Clown Posse displayed great showmanship at the Trocadero here.

The Detroit-based rapping duo were dropped from Disney-owned

Hollywood Records due to their explicit lyrics; the act was subsequently signed by Island Records. In San Francisco, they showed the crowd they're

worth all the hype.

Not nearly a hip-hop show, not quite a GWAR concert and not really a '70s Alice

Cooper-style performance, the ICP's Sunday show did borrow

heavily from all three of those musical icons. Shaggy 2 Dope (Joey Ulster) and

Violent J (Joseph Bruce), rapped over pre-recorded tracks and continually

sprayed the audience with Faygo soda, continued the

rock 'n' roll tradition of giving your all even when, musically speaking, you don't

have that much to give.

Let's first address the amount of soda dumped on the adoring masses at the

foot of the stage. Throughout the hour-long set, the boys were never without a

two-liter of Faygo soda in hand -- sometimes a bottle in each hand. They sprayed

the crowd while rapping. They sprayed the crowd while dancing. They sprayed

the crowd while waiting for the next song to start. Just when you thought they

were out of Faygo brand Moon Mist Cola and Orange Soda to throw at you, an

assistant dressed in a Halloween mask would creep on stage and fill their

trough with a fresh supply of bottles.

When the bottles were empty, they were thrown into the soaking wet crowd and

collected as if they were valuable souvenirs. We're talking empty plastic soda

bottles. Things that people usually recycle for five cents were fought over and

carried out of the venue as if they were guitar picks, drum sticks and rock-star-sweat-soaked towels.

This was more rock concert than hip-hop experience.

In contrast to your average hip-hop show, the stage was elaborate: a giant

Great Milenko head dominating the set and funhouse mirrors on either side of

the performers, strobe lights used to great effect early and often and a parade of

costumed characters continually rushing on stage to dance with the Clowns and

bring them more Faygo. There was no DJ cutting and scratching, there was no

call and response, there was no "now somebody, anybody, everybody scream!!"

And there was no freestyling.

In fact, it even sounded like the group was lip-syncing at points. And if they

weren't, the difference between the live sound of their between song patter and

the sound of their rapping was painfully obvious to those who were paying

attention.

Lucky for the Clowns, most weren't.

Certainly, no one in their right mind came to the show expecting musical

genius. They came to get a little "Clown Luv" and declare that they were "Down

With The Clown." They came with their faces painted and dancing shoes firmly

attached to their feet. They paid their ticket and got to travel on a testosterone-

fueled sonic carnival ride. They came to see two guys curse like sailors on shore leave while

dressed like circus performers.

The crowd was there to have fun, and the Insane Clown Posse were there to

deliver.

Their guitar-heavy songs "Hall Of Illusions" and "Southwest Voodoo" brought

life to the pit, while "Boogie Woogie Wu" and "Hokus Pokus" elicited the highest

amount of crowd participation. The audience-performer energy

axis was fully electrified, with the crowd cheering loudly between each song

and Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J tirelessly jumping about while energetically

hitting the audience with lyrics about killing racists ("Piggie Pie"), exposing

religious hypocrisy ("Hellalujah") and chasing girls ("What Is A Juggalo?").

What the Clown Posse lacked in talent, they made up for in energy. When the lights came up, there

was no doubt that the crowd, standing ankle deep in Faygo puddles and chanting

"ICP! ICP!," had just been rocked. [Thurs., Sept. 25,

1997, 9 a.m. PDT]