Flying Trash and Mobile Strip Clubs at the Gathering

[caption id="attachment_10060" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="A couple earn money at the Gathering of the Juggalos, Cave-In-Rock, IL, August 2011. Photo: Nate "Igor" Smith"][/caption]

[Read Hive's coverage of the Gathering of the Juggalos Day 1 here.]

[Read Hive's coverage of the Gathering of the Juggalos Days 3 & 4 here.]

Day 2

Juggalos are going to throw things. A group of enthusiastic, fun-loving, preternaturally crunk folks, I’m pretty sure they’re not always attempting to down the S.S. Tila Tequila with a random volley of cans and water bottles, but just adding to a spirited sense of chaos. The first rain of trash came after skate-metal sludgeadors CKY humped their way through a 6 p.m. set. In the interim, the occasional flying water bottle turned into an out-and-out trash war, stage right vs. stage left. Cans, bottles, two-liters, all seeming fuller and wetter as the battle waged on; climaxing with some bottle rockets that security swiftly confiscated.

[caption id="attachment_10062" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Juvenile performs at the Gathering of the Juggalos, Cave-In-Rock, IL, August 2011. Photo: Nate "Igor" Smith"][/caption]

Before the trash started on his performance, Juvenile was singing that familiar refrain, “I think I’m a new f***ing Juggalo. I’m gonna wild the f*** out. Can I come back next year?” within the first 10 minutes of a presumably well-compensated set. Sporadically, a bottle or can would zing stageward, which seemed like friendly fire from a crowd very merrily bouncing along to “U Understand” and “Nolia Clap.” “You don’t want to start that because I’ll start humming shit at you, n****,” Juve responded. Another bottle clipped the stage. He retorted, “Show a little respect. The next motherf***er that throws something up here, f*** him up for me… or else I’m gone.” Someone yelled back, “Get used to it.” You can pretty much guess what happened next. A single bottle landed a couple yards away from the rapper and his disappointed face said it all. He cued DJ Smallz that the show was going to end abruptly and added, ‘Y’all b**** as shit.” This time more than one bottle followed.

Lil Jon, who is probably more accustomed to club chaos, handled the errant can with much more aplomb, offering hilariously tossed off and fake-angry commentary, “Thanks for hitting me in the ass with a f***ing beer, douchebag.” Without his arsenal of guest rappers, his set was a non-stop screamfest of choruses from practically every song he’s had anything to do with -- including ones by Trillville, Lil Scrappy, Crime Mob and the other half of “Snap Yo Fingers” that E-40 started yesterday. The crowd went absolutely berserk and the third row felt like a constant hailstorm of water and ice-cold Faygo—it was extra hilarious watching the professional photographers hurriedly trying to shield their expensive cameras from the sticky goo. “F*** the other bullshit, throw some weed up here,” Jon joked. He returned the favor by spraying champagne on everyone.

[caption id="attachment_10065" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="An entrepreneur advertises his wares at the Gathering of the Juggalos, Cave-In-Rock, IL, August 2011. Photo: Nate "Igor" Smith"][/caption]

• The entrepreneurial spirit was in full effect on day two, cardboard signs offering everything from $20 samplings of OG kush, $10 tarot readings, $3 body shots and one enterprising dude with a beard advertising a discounted “meet-and-greet with Zach Galifianakis.” Anywhere, a single dollar could get you ice water, a cold Faygo, a bottle of Gatorade, a quick look at some boobs or a jello shot. Most unique offer that I didn’t take dude up on to see if he was serious: “You can play with my dick (no homo) -- $3.50”

[caption id="attachment_10063" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Ice Cube performs at the Gathering of the Juggalos, Cave-In-Rock, IL, August 2011. Photo: Nate "Igor" Smith"][/caption]

Ice Cube doesn’t play by anyone’s rules -- his set didn’t even include a “woop woop” until Lil Jon (now wearing an ICP t-shirt!) joined him for “Go To Church.” Cube had his own iconic “YAY-EE, YAY-EE” to peddle, and he commands a stage so forcefully -- mean-mugging right down the center of the crowd -- that everyone had no choice but to follow. He relied way too heavily on tracks from his crappy post-Lethal Injection output, but performed everything with such brassy gusto that no one seemed to mind—especially since when played his horrorcore v.1.5 anthem “Natural Born Killaz,” resulting in a little bit of crowd-surfing.

• Some dudes from Houston built a very impressive makeshift strip club complete with flashing lights, pumping music and a tattooed stripper in a bandana -- all of which would have been way cooler in the age before camera phones.

[caption id="attachment_10064" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Brian Posehn at the Gathering of the Juggalos, Cave-In-Rock, IL, August 2011. Photo: Nate "Igor" Smith"][/caption]

• Performing at the Gathering comedy tent seems like a true test of a one’s ability to roll with the punches. “Nerd rage” icon Brian Posehn did a 3:30 a.m. set (maybe the latest he’s ever performed, he told me) which was punctuated by fireworks and a dude adding commentary via megaphone. “That never happens at a comedy club. That is bringing heckling to a new level. Congrats.” Posehn did a joke about attempting to use a six-foot bong he had in college and within minutes an actual six foot bong was kindly presented to him. This was followed by someone offering him mushrooms mid-show. “I’m not doing shrooms with you, man! I’m a grown-ass man,” he said. “I have to jump on an airplane in two hours.”

Christopher R. Weingarten is the author of Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, and Hipster Puppies. He Tweets record reviews at @1000timesyes.

Nate "Igor" Smith is a nightlife and event photographer whose work had appeared in the Village Voice, Vice, Penthouse, Rolling Stone, LA Weekly and XXL. He runs the photo blog Driven By Boredom.