You probably already know about the Juggalos. Fans of horrorcore duo Insane Clown Posse, their legions stretch into huge numbers in the US – enough so that once a year they convene for the Gathering of the Juggalos, where tens of thousands of tatted and pierced people set up a carnival-meets-festival that feels something like an unhinged family reunion. Such is the group’s fan base size and reputation that they have even been classified as a gang by the FBI (something the community of fans obviously disagree with).
In the UK, things are different; it doesn’t appear that the Juggalos will be worrying Scotland Yard anytime soon. In September, a UK version of the gathering took place but didn’t *quite* match the US one. About 70 people turning up to a Pontins resort and then being thrown out in the middle of the night after a drunken scuffle with security doesn’t scale the same heights. But, with ICP playing their first UK tour in 14 years, we figured there had to be more people interested in the unfathomable miracles of “water, fire, air and dirt” than… 70. We headed down to the band’s rescheduled Sheffield show, to find out just where one might acquire Faygo in the Home Counties and hear about how the Juggalo way of life translates to British English.
Sam, Sarah, and Chris
Noisey: You guys are first in the queue, how long have you been here for?
Chris (in the hoodie): About four hours.
Are you aiming to get soaked with Faygo?
Yeah, whoop whoop!
Do you all identify as Juggalos?
All: Yeah, definitely.
How important is it for you to meet other Juggalos?
Sam: Really important, because it feels like a community and it genuinely is like a family.
What is it about ICP that makes you love them so much?
Chris: They are different and they don't give a shit, they don't care.
Sam: Most people in music are worried about what they can say but they just don't give a shit, they just say what it is and if there are consequences then there are consequences.
Chris: They say it how it is and that's how it should be.
Kane and Max
Noisey: How long have you guys been fans for?
Kane: About three years now.
Max: My big shame is that it's only been since October. Kane sent me a link and after I heard the first song I booked my ticket for this gig. And now I'm in there mate, I'm all sorted. I'm ready.
[woman interrupts] You know they are evangelical Christians, don't you?
Kane: Fuck yeah! Through the truth we follow God. We've always been behind him, the carnival is God and may all the Juggalos find it.
[woman] Praise Jesus, hallelujah!
Kane: The carnival is God!
Is the Christian element a genuine part of it for you?
Kane: Is it Christian? I don't know if they have ever said that it is. They have said that the carnival is God, so I think that leaves it up to interpretation and how you see your own God in the dark carnival.
Were you aware there was a Juggalo community when you got into their music?
Hell no. I looked them up on Facebook and saw that there was a bunch of groups, so I joined a few and thought, 'Wow, this is way more of a community than I thought.' It's so crazy, you wouldn't expect to have a supportive family behind a group but there is. There's such a tight-knit group of people even though it's out there and crazy. We're all family.
Tasha, Spanky the Brown, Matt, Chris, Crooked John
Noisey: Hey, tell us about your relationship to ICP.
Crooked John: When I was getting divorced, six years ago, I was in deep depression but there was one song my young lad kept playing over and over again and it hooked on to me. It was “Suicide Hotline” – it pulled me through, that did. Fucking magic. It helped me a big deal because in that song in the end a young bird comes along and it's all OK again.
Tasha: Everything is OK in life when a young bird comes along again.
Crooked John: Of course it is, yes. It's more about just the fact that you can be down that low and realise that things can be fucking great for you again.
Bailey and Peter
Noisey: Tell us about your background as an ICP fan?
Bailey: I heard “Miracles” a couple of years ago and then I've been getting more and more into them since. Getting deeper into the Juggalo scene.
Would you say you are Juggalos? Are you part of the family?
I wouldn't like to say so, as i'm not sure exactly what everything is really about yet.
Some people take the piss out of ICP a bit. What do you like about them?
I think they are a great band but they also root for the underdogs, which I like. I think they should be more famous than they are, or a little bit less underground.
Is there a strong community of UK ICP fans?
No, not at all. As soon as you talk about Juggalos, nobody has a clue what you're talking about. Also, when you show people they kind of step back a bit because of the face paint and stuff and they're like, 'that's weird, I don't want anything to do with it'. To me that is a downside to the Juggalo community because people look at it, think it's weird and turn their nose up at it without even getting to know what it's all about. I love the weird and wonderful.
Tom, Chris and Violent Jordan
Noisey: Talk us through why you love ICP.
Tom: The first album I ever bought was The Wraith: Hell's Pit and I just fell in love with them from there and have been ever since.
Violent Jordan: My brother bought the Great Milenko album when I was about seven or eight and I fucking finished primary school, man, walked into his car and he was like 'You gotta listen to this shit' and I just fell in love with them ever since.
Are you Juggalos?
What does being a Juggalo mean to you?
Tom: It's like a family, man. A family of fans that love horrorcore, ICP, stuff like that. It's things that bring you together.
Chris: We came down last week but the gig was cancelled last minute and so we all just went out drinking together; a bunch of people that had never met before.
Violent Jordan: I was absolutely fucking gutted that I couldn't see them last week but going out for drinks led to speaking with shitloads of homies about maybe going out to American for the Gathering. They offered me a place to stay. It was awesome, about 40 or 50 Juggalos all hanging out in Wetherspoons.
Inside the gig, ICP are showering the fans in gallons of sticky brown juice, spraying and throwing bottle after bottle of Faygo. People are loving it. One man who appears to be here with his mum runs over excitedly and empties out all the contents of his combat trouser pockets before handing them to her to help keep her dry. Then he’s running back into the pit. I get hit in the face multiple times by bottles and sprayed with horrible shit no matter how far back I stand and at one point they get everything so wet – despite the stage being wrapped in plastic sheets like a murder scene – they manage to short circuit the lights and play in complete darkness for a while.
The music almost feels secondary to the spectacle of it all. Think more of a foam party for horrorcore fans or Pat Sharpe’s Funhouse gone wrong. Chants of “fam-i-ly, fam-i-ly” ring out between songs, the duo shout that “everybody in this building is one in a million” and the crowd screams back before anybody can double-check the maths on that. More Faygo spraying follows a huge stage invasion until the music dies and there’s just a sea of shirtless men in ankle-deep dirty brown water, in which I stupidly manage to slip in, smashing my phone.
On the way out I bump into Chris and Violent Jordan again, who are so soaked in sweat and Faygo that they’ve completely wiped off their Juggalo facepaint masks. Good night? “Are you fucking kidding me, mate?” Violent Jordan screams before giving me a sticky high five. “Whoop whoop!” he hollers as I walk away.
Which is all well and good lads but whoop whooping ain’t gonna fix my phone that your clown juice just broke is it.
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