The Gathering of the Juggalos: A Look Ahead
One of the best parts of going to the Gathering of the Juggalos, Insane Clown Posse’s annual festival of arts and culture, is the anticipation. Juggalos start eagerly anticipating the next year’s festival while the current one is still happening.
Looking forward to the Gathering is a year-long preoccupation that kicks into high gear once the lineup is announced. This marks the twentieth Gathering of the Juggalos and my seventh trip back to Insane Clown Posse’s four days of Faygo, Love and Music and I could not be more excited about covering this preeminent American cultural institution for you beautiful people.
Yes, this will be the first year I write about the Gathering of the Juggalos exclusively for Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place. That’s a testament both to the strength and viability of this website as the core of everything I do professionally and also to me not wanting to endure more depressing rejections from respectable publications.
I’m going to be writing about every day of the Gathering of the Juggalos for bonus-sized Big Whoop entries while my big concluding piece exploring this most exquisitely American of festivals will be a Patreon exclusive for the kind-hearted souls who make it possible for me to continue to make a living as a writer by funding this site.
I want y’all to be able to experience the sometimes sublime, sometimes transcendent craziness of the Gathering of the Juggalos through me so I figured I would share with you my schedule for the 2019 festival so you can start getting fucking psyched.
Things kick off on Wednesday, July 31st at 4:15 in Indiana’s Shimmer Forest by a Juggalo Wedding followed by a Juggalo Reception. If it’s anything like a previous Juggalo wedding I attended and wrote about for A.V Club, it will be less a traditional affair than a crazed spectacle that’s part wrestling match, part live Jerry Springer Show and one hundred percent Juggalo lunacy.
But what do you get the happy couple? I’m guessing they already have a good supply of Faygo. Then at 6:00 the nostalgia trip begins with a performance on the main stage by C+C Music Factory. C+C Music Factory! I have not thought of the early 1990s dance dynamos in a good quarter century, but that will not keep me from enjoying one of the Gathering of the Juggalos’ truest, purest pleasures: seeing a once massive pop act perform their big hits for an audience of ecstatic, stoned Juggalos in the middle of some weird-ass forest.
The lineup is almost suspiciously packed for Wednesday. At ten o’clock the master showmen of Morris Day and the Time will rock the main stage. I never got to see Prince perform live, to my eternal regret. The closest I’ll probably come is watching some of his most beloved proteges blow the motherfucking roof off the first night of the Gathering.
Speaking of master showmen and can’t miss sets, Morris Day is followed by returning champions GWAR. That might seem like too much wickedness for one evening alone but it gets even juicier. At midnight, I will get to experience the magic of Clownvis and at three o’clock in the morning Juggalo nation will get to experience an acoustic Insane Clown Posse performance. It’ll be the antithesis of Dylan going electric. No one will ever be able to forget where they were when the clowns went acoustic.
The next day and night is a little sleepier. Nothing terribly exciting is happening until an eleven o’clock Soopa Villains set featuring Insane Clown Posse with horror core legend Esham but at midnight something called Shaggy’s Juggalo pajama Jammie jam that combines two of my favorite things: the music and culture of ICP and the subtitle of the House Party sequel House Party 2: Pajama Jammie Jam.
Then comes something called Randy from the Trailer Park Boys’ Cheeseburger Picnic, a 1:30 AM “Men in Black” seminar featuring the Bruce Brothers, AKA Violent J and his brother Jumpsteady that I’m all kinds of intrigued about and then finally at at 3 AM a novelty act called Mac Sabbath that performs Black Sabbath songs dressed like Ronald McDonald and his fast food-pimping minions will perform in the perfect possible context to see an act like that.
Things pick up again on Friday. Esham will return to the main stage as a solo act, followed by the high-powered likes of Bone Thugs N Harmony, who have absolutely destroyed every time I’ve seen them at the Gathering and then underground hero and Juggalo favorite Tech Nine.
At midnight Gilbert Gottfried returns to the only festival worthy of his idiosyncratic gifts. I also plan to check out the legendary Juggalo Yacht Club Wine Mixer and at three in the morning in a field in Shimmer Forest, KRS-ONE, one of the most legendary and influential rappers alive makes his Gathering debut. I could not be more excited about that. It should be utterly surreal and extremely awesome.
The final day and night of the festival is all about Insane Clown Posse’s climactic final performance but before the clowns go on at midnight I’ll first take in another Insane Clown Posse seminar (the Juggalo version of a TED talk), ABK, Vinnie Paz and Jedi Mind Tricks bringing that Demigodz/Army of the Pharaohs heat and then Geto Boys minus the late Bushwick Bill, who I had the honor of seeing perform at the Gathering with Geto Boys a few years back.
It should be epic! And a lot of the folks I’ve hung out with at Gatherings past will not be there for this go-round so if you see me at the Gathering please do feel free to say hi. The Gathering is a swell place to meet people and make friends even if you are as shy and painfully self-conscious as I am. Maybe it’s the celebratory, inclusive vibe or the drugs, but I have found that The Gathering is a surprisingly good place to mingle.
So start getting excited! In two weeks Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place is headed back to the Gathering and you guys will be riding shotgun alongside me as I take in what promises to be a Gathering of historic proportions.
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