Having spent my teen years in the 1990s, there really was no way to avoid having a couple of friends who were not ashamed to tell the world they were “down with the clown,” a really weird way of saying they were Insane Clown Posse fans. My first roommate was really into the band, and their fellow clown-painted journeymen on the Psychopathic Records label. I would often awake in the morning to him blasting their records, singing along to their songs and generally getting his day started to their music. It was infuriating.
Ten-years later, that man officiated my wedding (I’ll just add this here: There was nothing ICP about my wedding, he is just a really good friend of mine). He also took me to an ICP concert in 2006 after years of me ragging on how much I disliked the group. He made a fair offer: He would accept my critiques after I see them live. His reasoning is that I had to experience the group in a live setting to really understand what it was all about.
I was game for this. I mean, shows at First Ave in Minneapolis are a lot of fun and I had nothing to lose in going. I’ve been to a lot of concerts in my life, and I saw this as a new experience I could tell people about.
This is what the outside of First Ave looked like before the show: A sea of clown-faced teens wielding bottles of Faygo soda. It was a little jarring at first, but after talking to a few of them, I realized that they were generally really nice people who were really into this thing. They were not glassy-eyed cultists I snobbishly assumed they probably were, they were just superfans of this scene. As a superfan of various music groups, I understood their enthusiasm. I just didn’t share it with ICP. Still don’t.
Now, once inside I noticed the ceiling of First Ave was covered with what looked like black garbage bags. This was because of how much Faygo soda was going to be launched throughout the show. I knew there would be some, but once the show started it was an onslaught of soda bottles flying all over, drenching the people on the floor level in sticky, smelly soda syrup. The fans and the band tried to launch this merciless bombardment of carbonated drink onto the upper level (I was not going to be drenched in soda, so we sat in the safest place that offered the least amount of chance of being slathered in soda syrup, the upper level). It was insane.
The show itself was impressive. Say what you want about the merits of their music, these guys put on a show. They worked the crowd, had some stage theatrics and really gave the fans their moneys worth. Which not a lot of bands do. There is nothing worse than seeing a band you love basically phone it in live. Not with these guys, they made sure the show was good. And surprisingly, I found myself having a good time.
So yes, it was a fun show. It changed my perspective on the group and their fanbase. And while I still hate their music, I have a better understanding of the appeal. They have one of the most loyal fans of any band I know of. These fans still buy all their albums, they continue to go to the shows and they continue to buy the merch. And I think it is pretty cool that these people have found a common interest.
While I have zero interest in ever seeing them live again, the show did provide for an interesting experience.