During the first of two sold-out performances Monday in Denver, Insane Clown Posse fans — juggalos, Milenko kids and newbies alike — scrambled to collect plastic 2-liter bottles of Faygo cola as they rained from the sky.
Projected like missiles, the sugary bombs bounced off of stage lights, amplifiers and, most often, body parts in the clownish, face-painted crowd. By the end of the show, it was clear that Violent J, Shaggy 2 Dope and their entourage of wicked, water gun-wielding clowns had launched enough soda to accommodate each of the 1,000 fans who’d crammed into the Ogden Theater.
A tour to support the release of Insane Clown Posse’s The Wraith: Shangri-La should have appeared more apocalyptic: In the Detroit rap/metal/wrestling duo’s clownish cosmology, the album, their sixth joker card, signals the end of times. And even though the world didn’t explode after their animated performance, the Faygo-drenched venue definitely looked as though it had endured a natural disaster following the two-hour ordeal.
The somewhat eerie performance felt a bit like a game show from hell, with Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope presiding over a flashing, Vegas-style set for their “Murder Mayhem Show,” which suggested a diabolical version of “The Price Is Right.” Arguably the most reviled duo in the history of hip-hop and rock, in lieu of any live instrumentation, ICP threw down a performance that was part gangsta rap, part Gwar-like freak show and part high-drama karaoke over a scratchy tape that blasted through the venue’s sound system.
Spanning the group’s six-disc catalog, the show demonstrated moments of staged suspense. At one point, a red-haired posse member waved a Confederate flag around the stage before being wrestled to the ground during a performance of “Your Rebel Flag” by Shaggy 2 Dope.
A dark-haired beauty pranced the runway doing her best Vanna White impression in a green sequined gown as ICP’s henchmen — sporting red yarn wigs and sadistic smiles — brought out box after box of Faygo to stage some sort of Midwestern fructose torture ritual.
Halfway through the set, Violent J donned a glittery glove and a shiny jacket and moonwalked down the runway to a loop of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” “I’m just playin, y’all,” he said, throwing the glove in mock disgust and reverting to more appropriately macho and anarchic songs, including “Down With the Clown,” “I’m Sorry” and “F— the World,” which disses everything from Dionne Warwick and music critics to Oprah and opera.
Though themes of violence and thuggery permeated ICP’s stage show like a noxious odor, the group’s antics appeared decidedly mild compared to the ho-down offered by concert openers 2 Live Crew, who emerged from their longtime performance exile to join the Shangri-La tour. Taking the stage with a flock of bikini-wearing dancers, the notoriously randy crew humped its way through songs like “We Want Some P—y,” and “Me So Horny,” inviting audience members too young to remember their lyric-based run-ins with the Supreme Court to join them onstage and simulate sex acts.
Clearly more at home at a circus than a peepshow, the ICP crowd was mostly quiet through 2 Live Crew’s set. But after a brief set break that moved some kids to slam each other — out of cheerful anticipation or boredom — the lights dimmed and the chanting began: “ICP! ICP!” Later, after the last of the evening’s Faygo had been squeezed from the stage, fans shuffled out onto the streets with their face paint smeared from mosh-pit encounters and hair dreaded with pop and sweat, their inner clowns thoroughly satisfied.
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.