TOLEDO, Ohio At the end of their three-day-long fan festival here, the Insane Clown Posse finally met a force more powerful than the Dark Carnival, the shadowy supernatural presence that they say drives them to put on makeup and rap about killing people.
That force was their own fans, who brought the Gathering of the Juggalos to a chaotic, Faygo-drenched conclusion Sunday night.
(Click for photos from the event.)
Sugary mist from gallons of soda filled the air at the SeaGate Centre as hundreds of fans charged the main stage, forcing ICP's Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope to flee and end their set before it even reached the halfway point. As the house lights went on and police in riot gear waited just outside the building, Juggalos as ICP fans call themselves tore apart the carnival-themed stage set and destroyed ICP's sound equipment.
On the concert floor, shirtless, face-painted fans chanted ICP lyrics and sprayed various flavors of Faygo on each other until the area in front of the stage became a soda swamp.
ICP manager Alex Abbiss took the stage and chided fans for violating Juggalo etiquette fans aren't supposed to destroy the stage until the final song, he reminded them. Abbiss begged Juggalos not to tear up the city of Toledo on their way out. "If they say [you] left and rioted in Toledo, there'll never be another gathering," he shouted.
Police continued to wait outside by a stage door tapping riot batons against their hands but angry fans left more or less in peace, despite cries of "bulls---," "bulls---." Outside, police on horseback kept order. "We'll see you all next year at the gathering of 2002 in Las Vegas, Nevada," Abbiss said, garnering the festival's final cheers.
The mostly teenage fans at the gathering approximately 6,600 strong, according to Psychopathic Records spent the three days attending seminars, listening to music, watching live wrestling matches, getting free tattoos and face paint, and chanting "f--- Eminem."
The event's unwritten dress code called for black ICP T-shirts (preferably emblazoned with an obscenity), hair in brightly colored braids and, ideally, clown makeup. A surprising number of fans wore shirts and even tattoos touting Twiztid, a rap group on ICP's label who look and sound like ICP's Mini-Me's.
ICP's Sunday night performance was supposed to end with the revelation of a key bit of Insane Clown Posse mythology the "Sixth Joker's Card." But fans destroyed the mechanism that the rap duo would have used to reveal the card, whatever it was, according to Abbiss.
"I've been waiting eight f---ing years to find out what that card is," moaned Jason Gronos, a 25-year-old Juggalo from Detroit, as he wandered outside after the gathering's end. "It's like a big heartbreak."
Numerous Juggalos said they were disappointed with their brethren for cutting ICP's show short, with many blaming the incident on the group's youngest fans.
But Jay Diamond, a 26-year-old from Chattanooga, Tennessee, said he was among those who stormed the stage, and that those who did not join him were not real ICP fans. "They're not hardcore. They're scared," he said. Diamond said that ICP should have figured out a way to continue their set despite the chaos.
No one was seriously hurt, according to police. A Toledo police spokesperson said that officers arrested one person on Sunday
for property destruction, but it was unclear when the arrest occurred. In total, police arrested about 30 fans over the course of the event for such crimes as disorderly conduct, vandalism and, memorably, punching a police horse, according to police Sgt. Richard Murphy.
A number of rappers on ICP's Psychopathic Records, along with roadies and hangers-on, got into a large-scale brawl at a hotel adjacent to the event on Saturday night, according to witnesses and police. Murphy said that police made arrests related to the fight, but was unable to provide details.
Its ending aside, fans said that they'd had a great time at the Gathering of the Juggalos. The event began on Friday and
included performances by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Vanilla Ice and Three 6 Mafia, along with numerous rappers on ICP's
Last year's inaugural gathering in Novi, Michigan, also
ended with fans storming the stage, and a small riot in the
For the most part, Juggalos were peaceful during this year's gathering. They did show a strong tendency to greet female fans (Juggalettes) with the cry, "show your t--s," however.
ICP masterminds Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope signed autographs each day, and took fans' worshipful questions in seminars. In Saturday's seminar, Violent J even inexplicably treated several hundred Juggalos to a hoarse-voiced acoustic rendition of Pearl Jam's "Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town."
"If I had my way, every day would be a Juggalo gathering," Violent J told fans.