The word of the night Sunday was “energy”, as Insane Clown Posse took the stage at Newport Music Hall.
I was apprehensive about attending a concert whose main act revolved around clowns and carnival imagery, especially in today’s climate where the bogeymen have been replaced with the once beloved clown. The idea of an entire rap crew focused around clown and carnival imagery seemed ludicrous, “insane,” even. Yet, Insane Clown Posse, made up of DJs Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J, left me pleasantly surprised after a hectic night of hip-hop, clowns and cheap soda.
Arriving at the concert hall around 6:10 p.m., the excitement in the air was evident — even in how the other attendees were dressed. From ICP’s signature clown masks and wigs to more creatively designed costumes such as a “psycho clown barber” and “clown Abraham Lincoln,” everyone was decked out in clown paraphernalia.
The concert featured a trio of opening acts, all of whom had their own vibrant personalities and colors.
The standout of these openers was by far Lit Wyte, a self-described “bizarro world Carrot Top” who carried a sort of energetic flow that weaved in and out with the pulse of the crowd.
When the big moment hit and the boys from ICP took the stage, the wait was well worth it. The group jumped around and thrusted vulgar hand signs at the crowd to the slowed down revamping of nightmare carnival tune “Riddle Box.” I was blown away at the level of electricity projected from these two middle-aged men in clown paint.
During the performance, many people in the audience were holding up their middle fingers in the same way the a rock concert goer would hold up the devil horns. A friendly neighbor explained to me that the use of the middle finger at ICP concerts was simply proper etiquette.
The nu-metal screeches of distorted guitar in “Chicken Huntin’ (Slaughter House Mix)” had the displeasure of revealing the incredibly poor audio mixing present in the concert. It was hard to make out the individual lyrics of the song when faced with three minutes of squealing treble due to poor judgement from whomever was in charge of the soundboard.
The raucous crowd of Harley Quinn and Pennywise lookalikes didn’t seem to mind though. In fact, the poorly balanced audio seemed to instead incite the crowd further into a frenzy of thrown elbows and chest bumps as Violent J sang, “I just ate my first dead body last week/ Still got the fingernail caught in my teeth” on the theremin-laden groove of “Dead Body Man.”
As J and Shaggy 2 Dope launched into the chorus of Cemetery Girl, a haunting ballad to Shaggy’s decomposing lost love, gallons of Faygo were shot out onto the audience by two zombie priests onstage. Shaggy followed suit, shaking up bottles of Faygo and drenching the guys fortunate enough to be directly in front of the stage. As I saw the thick, syrupy soda fly into the air I realized too late why so many of the neighboring Juggalos — the correct term for ICP fans — were wearing waterproof jackets.
Even with this bizarre turn of events, it was hard not to feel the contagious excitement spreading throughout the crowd as Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope bounced around the stage in poorly painted clown makeup. If Ronald McDonald had starred in “8 Mile,” I could only imagine it would have been a very similar experience.
The mosh pit was incredibly friendly, discordant with how one would expect a thrashing hole of human beings in a trashy Carnevale to be. Because of, or in spite of, the fact that everyone was coated in sugary waste-product, there was a sense of unity and brotherhood amongst all attendees. I saw kind Juggalettes help young women search for their lost phones and a man in a Pinhead mask guide an elderly man to the bathroom.
Overall, it was an incredibly pleasant experience and one I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a chaotically fun and sticky night.