Gathering of the Juggalos 2013: Our first impressions

Categories: Festivals
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Nate "Igor" Smith
Daniel Hill is the music editor at our sister paper, St. Louis's The Riverfront Times.

By its organizers' own assessment, the Gathering of the Juggalos is an event filled with the most misunderstood people of all time. Juggalos are generally looked down upon by "normal" members of society, thought of as losers, degenerates or outright criminals--even most recently as a full-fledged gang, by the FBI. In keeping with these prejudices, the Gathering itself is subject to wild speculation by people who have never attended, in regards to its debauchery and unhinged behavior.

Some of these preconceived notions are warranted, and some are not. Here are a few of our first impressions of the Gathering, now that we have spent a full day on the grounds. 

We are probably not going to be murdered by Juggalos here.

See Also:
Slideshow: The 2013 Gathering of the Juggalos Opens Up (NSFW)


When I initially volunteered for this assignment, many of my friends and family members assumed that this would be the last they would ever see or hear from me. I would be quickly outed as an interloper, it was assumed, and would shortly thereafter be subjected to the glee-filled pool-ball-in-a-sock wrath of the Juggalo Family. The band's "psychopathic clown" motif and violent imagery seem to lend credence to this notion, but in reality nearly every person that we have come in contact with has been very nice. 

One thing to consider is that this is the one event of the year at which these misunderstood societal misfits can gather in large groups without fear of ridicule or judgment from outsiders. Truly, the inmates are running the asylum. In keeping, attendees wander around with joy in their crazy clown hearts and smiles on their painted faces. The calls of "Family!" and "Woop woop" are each shouted in order to express solidarity between kindred spirits, about every ten steps or so.

One caveat: Information for the press that was dispensed included a list of tips -- things like "bring mosquito netting" and "wear sunscreen." Also on this list was an explanation concerning the "woop woop" and "family" call-outs. It was strongly recommended that when someone says these things to you, you should most definitely respond in kind. The repercussions of not doing so were not made clear, but suffice it to say I have loudly been parroting back clown love to all who have expressed it in my direction. Which I suppose could possibly help to explain my continued survival.

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Nate "Igor" Smith
Juggalos are savvy entrepreneurs.

Everyone everywhere is selling something. Most of it is drugs, of course--this is a music festival, after all. But more on that aspect in a minute. More interesting are the out-of-the-box oddball ways people have been making money. Take, for example, the man with the "Bet you can't hit me with a quarter" sign. His pants were barely able to stay up, due to the weight of the jangling coins in his pockets. He even paid his way into the festival in the first place with change. 

Elsewhere, a man with an unreal amount of facial tattoos had dollar bills stapled all over his body pitched his talent like a carnival barker. "Step right up, one dollar! The is a real staple gun; this ain't that fucking kiddie shit like you used to do when you were a kid. This shit really hurts." I probably saw twenty blood-smeared dollars hanging off of his skin.

Then there was the topless girl offering "boob squeezes" for only $3. Yes, there were takers.

Jesus Christ, there are drugs everywhere.

This is not a revelation, I know. Tales of the "drug bridge" at the Gathering are well known. Actually walking across the thing is a whole different story though. Every single drug that I have ever heard of is represented, in large quantities. Salesmen peddle their wares loudly to all who walk by--at 5 in the morning we were offered "cocaine for breakfast" by a heavy-set fella still stationed at his post. Many dealers not on the bridge wander around with megaphones, loudly advertising whatever mind-altering substance it is that they have to offer. And one of the very first things we witnessed upon arrival was an abundance of individuals wandering the grounds double-fisting balloons of nitrous oxide. Still, I have seen surprisingly few people passed out face-down in the mud--juggalos have a knack for handling their chemicals, I guess (although we were told by a police officer that the had been ten overdoses on acid in the first day--apparently some bad stuff is going around).

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44 comments
adam0499
adam0499

If you have an interest in understanding how an unremarkable band from 1989 is still receiving so much ink - you must watch Frontline: Merchants of Cool. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/cool/ 

American media theorist Douglas Rushkoff analyzes how "cool" is made by companies and how a "f--- everything" band like ICP is bottled and sold just like Coca Cola. 

The ironic thing about these juggalos thinking they are counterculture and united in their anti-normal behavior - is that they normalize it by paying for it, commodifying it just like most everything in our capitalistic society. The almighty dollar is so powerful there are people literally asking you to staple it into their skin or for a passersby to sexually molest them for a price. 

As a high school teacher, I was astonished to find so many high schoolers listening to this band that I thought had faded away years ago. Much to my amazement, ICP and their labels (Hollywood RecordsIsland Records,Jive RecordsPsychopathic Records) have found their market and keep selling to them hard. 

They are worth a social discussion. Most of my students who listen to ICP and call themselves juggalos feel rejected by society and feel shunned by their peers. The idea that they are part of this "family" sometimes leads to an empowerment in which they actively seek ways to perpetuate their anti-establishment attitudes.

However, a family (in this commentator's opinion) should care, love and look out for one another. Allowing family to overdose, become mutilated, eat feces or perform degrading acts or the like seems like an attempt to desensitize oneself from the horrors one might be facing in their life instead of seeking real peace, harmony and non-drug-induced-long-lasting happiness.

_Joe_
_Joe_

Well it's that time of year again when the dregs of society settle to the bottom like a pus plug.  I can practically smell those pictures.  I feel immensely sorry for the two teenage boys (day 3 photos, I think) who look like they'd rather be anywhere but there.

Oh, and obligatory:  ICP sucks balls. 

DaveTheDopeFiend
DaveTheDopeFiend

Somewhere out there is a reporter for a blog or alt weekly covering The Gathering of The Juggalos saying in all seriousness, "Ugh, I was ironically covering this X years ago before everyone else started ironically covering it. Ironically covering The Gathering is so over!"

CinBlueland
CinBlueland topcommenter

To those I may offended, Just a joke. We all have our own musical tastes.

Have fun J's

k2yeb
k2yeb topcommenter

The Juggalo and Hippie fans scare me more than any other music fan classification. Sometimes I think people use music as an excuse for uncontrolled drug use.  With that said, this made me think of Danny Brown and I am super pumped he is coming back to Mnpls. I hope we don't embarass ourselves like we did last time. CHECK. 

Maggie Strugala
Maggie Strugala

A juggalo is an Insane Clown Posse fan. THey have there own scene...much like a punk, or hippie, except they are solely loyal to ICP.

Al Cady
Al Cady

Jim...take a Nickelback fan. Now give them a lobotomy. There you go.

Jim Hall
Jim Hall

<- still has no idea what a Juggalo is.

Jason Bistodeau
Jason Bistodeau

Oh thank you, City Pages, for saving me the money on the tickets, lodging and travel...that I would never have spent in a f***ing heartbeat.

arexandra
arexandra

@DaveTheDopeFiend i dont think its ironic. i think its much more interesting than covering other large music festival with 'hippies' or 'hipsters'. the culture of icp is still hard for me to wrap my brain around.  it seems to be centered around a general coming together over coming strife and creating a 'family' and looking fucking 'weird' doing it. as someone who reads a lot about music culture i find this story extremely relevant.

k2yeb
k2yeb topcommenter

@CinBlueland I wouldn't worry about it. Parents or spouses these days will say anything to justify their situation.  If you read the lyrics to their music, well I am kind of surprised they can write in full sentences.  

LoriDrong
LoriDrong

@k2yeb The guy in the top picture to the left of the guy with the face paint is my son.  He is 11 months sober and loves their music.  I'm thinking that making a snap judgment about someone you don't know is out of line. 

TC4L
TC4L

Could be other bands too.  Went to a monoxide and lil whyte concert last year and juggalos everywhere.  Kinda strange.  But the artists kept talking about religion and politics so it was kind of a waste of money and time due to that.

k2yeb
k2yeb topcommenter

@Al Cady Truly awesome comment. Hat off to you. 

LoriDrong
LoriDrong

@Jim Hall A juggalo is a person who follows ICP.  They like other music too but they are avid fans of Insane Clown Posse.  They are not all drug users and alcoholics and they are the farthest thing from being horrifying people.

DaveTheDopeFiend
DaveTheDopeFiend

@Kelsey Warnke OMG I KNOW RIGHT??? It's horrifying to think other people out there have dissimilar interests than we do! BTDubs, I totes <3 your Glamor Shot pic! 

(Seriously, what a shitty thing to say just because these folks just find fun in different ways than you. So Minnesota of you...)

joanneneft
joanneneft

Ha! The first picture of the guy with his facepaint is my husband..I assure you he is not horrifying. He has a good job and we have 2 beautiful children..he's just celebrating his music. Don't judge lmao

joanneneft
joanneneft

The guy in the first picture is my husband and I assure you he isn't horrifying..he has a good job and we have 2 beautiful kids..he's just celebrating his music and having a blast doing it. Don't judge Lmao!

LoriDrong
LoriDrong

@Maggie Strugala I am very proud of my son!  He is the one to the left of the guy with the face paint in the top picture!  It looks to me like he is enjoying the show he went to see.  He has been sober for 11 months and has every right to like what ever music he choses.  Maggie would you be judging them and laughing if they were at a concert for a band that was on your "acceptable bands list"?

k2yeb
k2yeb topcommenter

@LoriDrongOdd there was a fatal overdose in todays news. I have been to a lot of concerts. Even one GOTJ just to see what it was all about. There were 3 overdoses in one night. I said zero about your son but nice try there. The fact he is counting his months sober, leads me to believe drugs are a major source of the community. Have you been to one of these events? I hope your son has more years of sobriety, but if he goes to these events that is going to be pretty hard

joanneneft
joanneneft

And this music festival is NOT the only one that is crawling with drugs and boobs... So is everyone else who goes to a different genre of music's festival horrifying too? Or do you just have a childhood fear of people in facepaint? Or people having a good time?

k2yeb
k2yeb topcommenter

@LoriDrong You read a lot into short posts. Sound a little presumptuous to me. Looks like he is old enough to do that for himself. Whoop Whoop. 

LoriDrong
LoriDrong

@k2yeb @joanneneft I'm not completely clear on what gives you the right to judge another person.  I'm willing to guess that you also have made mistakes in your life.  Just because he choses to listen to ICP doesn't make him a bad person.  Not everyone who attended is using drugs.  There are drugs at every other concert and music event.  Its just not announced publicly by the media. 

I heard about the overdose from my son when he got back home.  Unlike you I have no conclusions to draw about the population of people who attended the gathering based on that information.  Instead I pray for the family to have comfort in their loss and strength to help them in this overwhelmingly sad time.

"I hope your son has more years of sobriety, but if he goes to these events that is going to be pretty hard" I'm sure he will continue to go to many more music events in his lifetime.  You are not qualified  to assess how difficult it will be for him to attend in the future.  He is responsible for his decisions and to be honest he has been doing an outstanding job.

It seems you are  not only on here to give an opinion but also to drive it in that you are right about your opinion and argue with/belittle the ones who don't agree.  I suggest find something more productive to occupy your time. 

k2yeb
k2yeb topcommenter

@joanneneftNever said they were scary. Or crazy. Or drug addicts. You might want to read before you comment on things that were never said. I am glad at least he doesn't have "Cunt" written on his face.

joanneneft
joanneneft

Actually knowing her son personally I don't believe it will be hard for him at all.. the whole point is that no matter where you go there is going to be people ruining it for everyone. That doesn't mean they are all scary crazy drug addicts

joanneneft
joanneneft

Lol!! Just not their own? Mine are alive and very uneaten :-P

joanneneft
joanneneft

Get over yourself. I'm sure there was meth at every concert you've ever been to. The decisions of one person should not affect your views of an entire group.

k2yeb
k2yeb topcommenter

@joanneneft Definitely not the only one with drugs. But it is the ONLY show I have been offered meth at....multiple times. Only one in 35 years. 

joanneneft
joanneneft

Yep! Click on the link to go through the photo gallery..tons of boobs.

CinBlueland
CinBlueland topcommenter

@joanneneft Wait!! Boobs? There was no pictures of boobs! If boobs and putting babies on spikes is on the menu well then I gotta get me some face paint!

joanneneft
joanneneft

Lol! Yes..I forgot to say that, thank you.

LoriDrong
LoriDrong

@k2yeb @LoriDrong No surprise another post trying to take a jab and argue *sigh*  If you didn't catch the connection she was being sarcastic about them making their mom proud.  Being a mom of one of the people pictured I believe it was a valid reply to let her know that I am very proud.  Nice attempt :)

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