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Here’s what happened during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend

Calgary, AB – It’s Friday afternoon around three o’clock and I’m walking towards Marquee Beer Market & Stage for day one of Canadian Juggalo Weekend.

Thankfully there isn’t much of a lineup outside, I’m guessing most local Juggalos are at work and planning to come down later. There’s a Juggalo in the line in front of me with full face paint. For clarity, this particular individual will henceforth be known as Yung Circus Boi The Intoxicated.

He’s extremely well “refreshed.” He yells out to a juggalette walking across the parking lot, complimenting her physique. He then proceeds to start yelling out a name of what I can only assume is an artist or performer. I ask him if it’s one of the opening acts, and he keeps yelling this particular name until I reply with “yeah,” at which point he gives me a hug. We’re about five feet away from the bouncer, and Yung Circus turns around so is back is towards the door staff, pulls a two-six of Crown Royal out of his jacket, and proceeds to chug it.

For whatever reason, his two-six has one of those attachments that bartenders use for pouring shots. We’re now directly in front of the bouncer. Yung Intoxicated kneels down right beside the bouncer so he can put the empty beer box from his backpack into the garbage beside the I.D. scanner. The bouncer is watching all of this happen with an incredulous look on his face. Unfortunately, Yung Circus wasn’t admitted into the venue. I, however, was, and I begin to survey the scene.

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay

“…there’s probably an expectation that a review of an ICP show would include crazy stories. Despite what VICE news reports might lead people to believe, ICP’s set is relatively tame in some aspects, but not tame at all in others. While there’s no nudity, crowd shenanigans, or whatever else happens at The Gathering, it’s still a spectacle unlike any other.”

Day 1: April 7, 2017

The area of Marquee where the beer taps are is lined with various vendors and merch booths. I head to the dance floor just in time to catch Sideshow Punx. A woman in a clown-striped unitard and her male accomplice come on stage and begin breaking fluorescent lights on each other. The male performer then lifts a cinder block with chains attached to piercings on his forearms.

I’m guessing the venue probably isn’t overly enthused about all the broken glass flying around this early in the day. The stage manager gets up and talks to one of the performers and the act is cut short. They then spend the next half-hour meticulously removing all the shards of broken glass from the stage with brooms and a shop-vac.

An announcer comes on the mic and informs the crowd that a wrestling match is about to begin in the tent outside the venue.

I knew beforehand that wrestling has been a part of Juggalo culture since its onset. Both members of the Insane Clown Posse, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope, have stated in past interviews that being a wrestler was their career goal before hip-hop became their main focus in the late 1980’s. ICP actually appeared on both WWE and WCW in the late 90’s, which is around the same time that the pair decided to form their own league, Juggalo Championship Wrestling (JCW). Although many of the wrestling federations from the 90’s have folded, JCW has survived this whole time.

Going into this, however, I had the idea that most Juggalo wrestling is “backyard wrestling” style, and that the wrestling events this weekend would be done on the ground using surrounding objects as weapons. This notion was ended as I walked into the wrestling tent and was greeted by a full-sized, professional wrestling ring.

The wrestling matches actually ended up becoming the highlight of the entire weekend for me. JCW brought out well established talent from the indie circuit for each match. One wrestler in particular, Ravenous Randy, trained with the Hart family and has 16 years of in-ring experience. If anyone reading this knows where all the indie wrestling in Calgary goes down, let me know because this weekend got me amped to see more.

The matches end, and I head back inside to see recent Psycopathic Records signee Lyte. At this point it’s worth noting that even though the event is called Juggalo Weekend, artists who are actually branded as Juggalos are in the minority. Including ICP, there’s only five artists currently signed to Psychopathic Records, and just three of them are performing this weekend. This may seem counter intuitive, but the Juggalo movement is no longer a glorified fan club for Psychopathic. As Violent J explained in our interview last month, Juggalo culture has largely become an underground hip-hop movement.

In other words, Juggalos now seek out artists from across the underground who have a Juggalo-style character – usually dark, gritty lyrics – and collectively latch on to them. They’re also substantially responsible for the continued success of older, more established acts who share this character as well.

This characteristic of Juggalo culture is what’s ultimately responsible for the nature of the lineup.

Without even doing any polls I think it’s safe to say that a lot of general hip-hop fans were deeply puzzled when they saw names like Onyx, Swollen Members, and 2 Live Crew alongside ICP. As the day goes on, I watch these acts get greeted with the same support and fervour as any Juggalo-branded artist.

Without even doing any polls I think it’s safe to say that a lot of general hip-hop fans were deeply puzzled when they saw names like Onyx, Swollen Members, and 2 Live Crew alongside ICP.

If you fall into this group of general rap fans who were puzzled by the lineup, and you only take one thing away from this review, it should be this: shit is changed. For a long time Juggalos were portrayed as objects of ridicule, a fringe band of disenfranchised youths who un-ironically found artistic merit in lyrics such as “I could kill off some bears and dogs and shit just to make you a fur coat.”

The reality, however, is that they can all channel their financial support and word-of-mouth in a way that no other group can, and in a way that’s capable of shaping the general hip-hop landscape. Tech N9ne is probably the first artist who was lifted by the Juggalos from relative obscurity into the mainstream, and there’s undoubtedly more to come.

Speaking of Juggalo representations, most people’s idea of a Juggalo event probably comes from seeing footage of The Gathering, the annual festival that’s currently in its 18th year. Because of this, there’s probably an expectation that a review of an ICP show would include crazy stories. Despite what VICE news reports might lead people to believe, ICP’s set is relatively tame in some aspects, but not tame at all in others. While there’s no nudity, crowd shenanigans, or whatever else happens at The Gathering, it’s still a spectacle unlike any other.

The duo takes the stage around nine. Seeing them walk out on stage is a feeling that’s unparalleled. Even if you don’t like their music, you can’t help but feel a strange sense of awe at the sight of two people who have spent almost three decades meticulously engineering a culture from the ground up. Almost immediately the Faygo literally starts flying through the air. The duo brought a seemingly endless supply of the Michigan-based cola, all in two-litre bottles.

They shake them up and spray the crowd like two priests anointing a congregation. For many of the Juggalos here this is probably legitimately a religious experience. I stay at the back of the room to avoid the onslaught of sugar water, and even then I still get spritzed. Bottles that are almost full are flying through the air. One flies across the room and lands behind the bar. I’m both scared and slightly titillated at the prospect of a Faygo missile smashing one of the two-sixes of Grey Goose on display. I seem to be the only one with this concern though, the rest of the crowd is revelling in the soda anointing, grabbing bottles out of the air to drink the sacred elixir and spritz their fellow Juggalos. Part way through the set one of my friends turns to me and says that the cops are snap-chatting the show. I turn around and two members of the gang suppression unit are standing nearby, one of them filming it on his phone.

Part way through the set one of my friends turns to me and says that the cops are snap-chatting the show. I turn around and two members of the gang suppression unit are standing nearby, one of them filming it on his phone.

In the FBI’s 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment, Juggalos were listed as a hybrid gang engaged in low-level grime, a label that Juggalos have vehemently denied. Calgary police must have heard about this and come to see for themselves.

If this is a gang rally, then this is a gang rally straight out of a Mad Max movie. Dancers dressed as clowns are now throwing feather filling from pillows over the crowd. When combined with the copious amount of stickiness currently overtaking the venue it has the effect of being tarred-and-feathered.

If Juggalos ever take over, maybe getting Faygoed and feathered could be some kind of judicial sanction. At this point I’m half paying attention to what’s actually coming out of the speakers, half looking around the room like I just entered a strange fairy tale world. This isn’t a concert. A concert is where people watch music. This is performance art, and everyone in the venue is participating.

Even in the low light I can see the large splashes of Faygo high on the walls. After the set I stick around to survey the aftermath.

There’s over a hundred crushed two-litre bottles lying in a veritable swamp of fizzy sweetness. Marquee has another show featuring an Australian DJ starting in an hour. How they managed to get the venue clean that fast is a marvel of modern science.

Day 2: April 8, 2017

It’s Saturday around two and I’m pulling up to the venue for the second day. I wanted to get here early to see all the wrestling matches. This time there’s a sizeable line outside. I go to the back of the queue, and lo and behold Yung Circus Boi is in front of me in the line.

This time he’s completely sober. I don’t think he remembers me, because his friends are trying to help him fill in the blanks of what happened yesterday. After being denied entry he went back to his hotel to wash the face paint off, then came back and tried to get in again.

Unfortunately, he was denied a second time, so he continued drinking outside, called one of his friends a cunt, passed out somewhere in the surrounding area, then had to be rescued by medical professionals. This misadventure thankfully hasn’t dampened his spirit. All throughout the line chants of “woop woop” are erupting. Just like Yung Circus, everyone is charged up and ready for another day of seeing their heroes. One individual breaks out of the line and runs up to random people getting them to chant various things.

The first musical acts of the day are Alberta Murderaz and Saintanik, both locals. I’m quickly starting to notice that Juggalos seem to favour chopper rap, or rap with a percussive, fast delivery. I don’t think a cloud rap, trap, or drill artists could appeal to this audience. Although the comedic lyrical content of some ICP songs might say otherwise, Juggalos seem genuinely drawn to rhymes that are skillfully delivered.

I’m quickly starting to notice that Juggalos seem to favour chopper rap, or rap with a percussive, fast delivery. I don’t think a cloud rap, trap, or drill artists could appeal to this audience.

This notion was further cemented by the appearance of rising Canadian star Merkules, who pledged to be at The Gathering soon. Psycopathic artist Big Hoodoo, who played a few hours later, didn’t have that chopper delivery, but he had rhymes that hinged heavily on Juggalo culture, such as the notion of Juggalos as a family.

The appearance of Ice-T was probably as anticipated as ICP. The venue is packed from side to side, front to back. As he begins performing I’m half paying attention to the music, and half paying attention to the fact that Madchild, who played a surprise solo set earlier, is standing at the bar a few feet away from me having drinks with Merkules.

Seeing an iconic figure on stage is cool, but seeing an iconic figure standing in the crowd a few feet away from you is something that seldom happens. I’ll admit that with the exception of the three diss tracks Madchild aimed at Snak The Ripper last year, I probably couldn’t name three tracks Madchild has done in the past five years. When I was in high school, however, Swollen Members and Battle Axe Records was a fairly big part of my musical identity. When Swollen was on the cover of FFWD in 2003 I actually taped it to my bedroom door. I can still recite most of the words to the Rob The Viking-produced “Stop Biting” by Abstract Rude.

In the early 2000’s, the main icons of Canadian hip-hop were primarily from Toronto, the city that had dominated Canadian hip-hop for most of its existence. Swollen Members was so captivating because they showed that you can come from outside of Toronto, stick rhymes, and still gain widespread notoriety. As an ode to my 17-year-old self I decide to approach Madchild just to shake his hand. He seems genuinely enthused and thanks me for being a supporter, the same way he’s reacted to every fan that’s approached him on the floor thus far.

The one thing that stood out about Ice-T’s set was the stage banter in between songs. In some cases he would talk for minutes at a time, delivering messages on the state of rap, telling jokes, and even talking to people in the audience. This stood out to me because this is something that happens a lot in hardcore punk. Ice-T is the singer of acclaimed hardcore band Body Count, so I’m guessing he naturally imported hardcore’s penchant for engaging stage banter into hip-hop. At the end of his set his wife Coco comes on stage with their baby and shakes the hands of people in the front row.

Ice-T is the singer of acclaimed hardcore band Body Count, so I’m guessing he naturally imported hardcore’s penchant for engaging stage banter into hip-hop.

ICP’s headlining set is much the same intensity as day one. If I had to pick one particular element from an ICP set that would shock people from outside of Juggalo culture, it would probably be the camaraderie. At random intervals throughout the day, even when there isn’t an artist on stage, people in the venue begin should FA-MI-LY, FA-MI-LY. Random people would walk up to me and give me high fives, or say an endearing “whoop whoop.”

It’s a level of unity that I haven’t seen anywhere else, even in electronic music which still largely preaches the PLUR – peace love unity respect – ideology. If PLUR did exist at one point, it definitely evaporated once rave culture moved from DIY spaces into clubs. PLUR is largely a Marxist ideology, and you can’t have a marxist ideology existing in the same culture where bottle service is an actual thing that exists. The two will either cancel each other out, or one will usurp the other and twist it to its own gain. I think we all know who won that battle.

Juggalo events, however, have managed to retain a very Marxist, PLUR-like feeling despite the fact that ICP has what is perhaps the most expansive merchandising in the entirety of hip-hop. They have their own card game with add-on protective card sleeves, ICP branded lighters, enough shirt designs to cover an entire wall of the march tent, and their own version of Cards Against Humanity releasing later this month.

Unlike what happened with PLUR in rave culture, ICP’s vast merchandising isn’t a push to monetize something that started at the grassroots level. This is the product of people coming together and creating their own world, their own culture, and their own identity.

Photography by Jonathan Crane & Sarah Jay

Day 1: April 7, 2017

Lyte (Psychopathic Records signee)

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane


Onyx

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane


2 Live Crew

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane


Swollen Members

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay


Insane Clown Posse

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay



Day 2: April 8, 2017

Wrestler The Omen

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane


Alberta Murderaz

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane


Saintanik

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane


Merkules

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane


Big Hoodoo

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane


Madchild

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane


Ice-T

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay


Insane Clown Posse

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Sarah Jay


The Aftermath

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane

Here's what happened in Calgary during the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend - HipHopCanada.com
Photo by Jonathan Crane


Twitter: @ICP


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Jonathan is a member of the HipHopCanada Content Team.

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