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For the second consecutive weekend, the state of Illinois will play host to a major music festival.
Lollapalooza brought Foo Fighters, Eminem, Coldplay, and Muse to Chicago; the Gathering of the Juggalos will bring together hip-hop heavyweights like Ice Cube, Busta Rhymes, Lil Jon, Mystikal, and Paris, with a final Sunday night set by the festival’s founders and organizers, the Insane Clown Posse.
This is the 12th annual event for Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope, and what began as a simple showcase for the groups on their label has turned into a major yearly event. The duo, who often refer to themselves as “The World’s Most Hated Band,” have put together four days of everything that falls under the header of Juggalo culture, including music, carnival rides, professional wrestling, drinking, nudity, and, of course, seminars.
Part of the popularity of the Gathering lies in the infomercials the Clowns have created to promote the events; the clips are such a viral sensation that they have been parodied on Saturday Night Live at least three times.
While normal festival rules apply this weekend (stay hydrated, wear sunblock), there are a few extra survival tips that EW picked up when we caught up with J and Shaggy last week. If you’re planning on making the trip out to Cave-In-Rock, Illinois, this weekend, remember these simple pieces of advice:
Pack More Clothes Than You Think You Need
This advice applies more to the band than it does to its followers, but it’s a reasonable idea. As Violent J pointed out, when you’re in ICP, you tend to go through a lot of shirts. “Everything we wear gets destroyed,” he explains. “From the clown paint on your face–not just doing shows, just doing everyday activities. Sitting around on the bus, you destroy every shirt you wear because your collar gets paint all over it, and the paint don’t come out of nothing even with the best Ajax.” Adds Shaggy 2 Dope, “Billy Mays himself couldn’t get it out.” Seeing as how many Juggalos themselves wear their own customized face paint and often cover each other with Faygo in the middle of shows, it’s safe to assume that you’ll probably need some back-up shirts.
Convince Ice Cube To Make Violent J’s Dreams Come True
Of all the acts booked at this year’s festival, Violent J is most looking forward to the presence of Ice Cube; the hip-hop icon has played the Gathering before, but this time J is hoping he’ll stop for a chat. “I’ve only gotten to talk to him for like 30 seconds,” he said. “He pulled his bus right up to the back of the stage, and the only time he came out was basically when he was on his way to the stage. I’m hoping that maybe he’ll be standing out catching some fresh air or something. We’re huge Ice Cube fans, and it’d be so cool to sit there and chop it up with Ice Cube for a couple minutes. Ten minutes or something. That’d be a dream come true.”
Charlie Sheen Will Feel Juggalo Love
Undoubtedly the biggest star visiting Cave-In-Rock this weekend is Charlie Sheen, who will be hosting the main stage acts on Saturday night (those performers include Tech N9ne, Vanilla Ice, and George Clinton). He’s there to provide entertainment between sets, though not even ICP know exactly what he’s going to do. “On the main stage, we have emcees hosting every night,” Shaggy 2 Dope explains. “They’ll come out between acts and get their shucky-ducky on and introduce acts and whatnot. So whatever [Sheen] does, he does.”
Other hosts include Flavor Flav and Dustin “Screech” Diamond, but Sheen remains the real x-factor. “Who the f— knows what Charlie Sheen’s gonna do? Wish we knew,” says J. “Why is Charlie Sheen at the Gathering? We have a theory: Whenever an artist is picked on by the mainstream, Juggalos are more apt to be supportive of them. Everybody’s pointing a finger at Charlie Sheen, dissing his lifestyle, tearing him up, making fun of everything he says, making him into a freak show. That’s what we are. Everything we do is misunderstood or misconstrued or picked on or f—ed with. Everybody says how s—-y we are and how horrible our music is and how lame we are, and we turn around get all the love in the world. The Juggalo love is a hundred times more powerful — a thousand times more powerful! — than a mainstream fan’s love.”
Be Aware Of Your Surroundings
Last year, the Gathering grabbed a few headlines because of the near-riot at the Tila Tequila show and the fact that Method Man was struck by a flying bottle during his set with Redman. Violent J suggests that those acts might not have treated the Juggalos how they prefer to be treated. “Let’s be honest. No matter who you are, [if] you say the wrong thing, they could turn on you in a second,” he says. “Juggalos like to be addressed as Juggalos. I think they like the artist that’s playing the Gathering to know where they’re at. If you go up there and say ‘What’s up Chicago!’ or even if you say ‘Illinois!,’ Juggalos aren’t gonna like that. Because this guy, whoever it is onstage, obviously doesn’t know they’re playing the Juggalo Gathering. And this isn’t your normal gathering. This isn’t the state fair, this is the Juggalo Gathering and they like to be addressed as such. We’re not badmouthing Method Man and Redman at all, but they weren’t entirely informed of where they were playing. They were up onstage and the crowd was chanting ‘Family,’ which is like an expression of love, saying, ‘You’re accepted.’ It’s like saying, ‘Welcome to the Juggalo family.’ And I believe it was Redman who said, ‘What family? This is about hip hop.’ But they still loved him! It was one guy who got the luckiest shot ever. Believe me, if all the Juggalos were against you, you would have seen some s—.”
Come For The Music, Stay For The Wrestling
ICP have their own independent wrestling company (Juggalo Championship Wrestling, or JCW), and as longtime fans of sports entertainment, they are especially excited about the roster of legends who will be performing at the Gathering (including the likes of Terry Funk, Bob Backlund, Jerry “The King” Lawler, and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper). “This is the biggest independent legends wrestling show ever, anywhere in the world,” J says. “As a diehard, lifelong wrestling fan, it’s almost too hard to believe. Every match is a hall of fame match. “There’s no nobodies. There’s no ‘Who the f— is that guy?’ Every single spot is filled by a legend. It’s great, man.”