The Dark Carnival Invades Pennsylvania
Insane Clown Posse/Phunk Junkeez/Twisted
Scranton Cultural Center 10/11/98
by Dan Moreland
To wrestling fans, they are the two goofy guys in clown getup who come out dancing with the Oddities only to get their asses kicked by the Headbangers every Monday night on Raw. To the music industry, they are a scourge, a curse, to be tolerted in the name of anti-censorship, but to be eventually and hopefully to be swept under the carpet with the likes of the Mentors, 2 Live Crew and the Geto Boys. And to many mainstream Americans, they are two freaks in KISS makeup part of Howard Stern's never ending parade of wackpackers.
But to a crowd of 2000 very rowdy but mostly well behaves white suburban kids in their late teens, 1/4 of whom were dressed in face paint, and surprisingly, 40% female, the Insane Clown Posse is a bizarre mix of gangsta rap and pure circus act, with lyrics focusing on rebellion, hardcore violence, sinister carnie mysticism, and oh yes, about one hundred twenty five 89 cent bottles of Faygo soda.
Lets clear one issue right away: no, there was not one mention of professional wrestling during the entire show. The Oddities song was not performed, and all wrestling references were deleted to the point that even the "Hulkamaniac" and "Sabu" lines in the song "What is a Jugalo?" were omitted. As a matter of fact the only allusion to the squared circle the entire night was at the opening of the show when two stage hands in lucha masks uncovered two cages to reveal Shaggy and J. ("Hall of Illusions" was played, which has a reference to "Milenko", but contrary to popular belief in the wrestling community, the "Great Milenko" in ICP folklore is an evil carnival spirit, and has nothing to do with 60s "Russian" wrestler Boris Malenko or his sons, Dean and Joe).
After seeing ICP on ECW Pay-per-views and on Raw, or watching their hilarious "Stranglemania" tape, I'm sure many wrestling fans are disappointed to hear this. But frankly there weren't as many wrestling tee-shirts in the crowd as you'd think and it appears that the reason 2000 fans showed up was because ICP is a legitimate underground music phenomenon, and not wholly because of wrestling. And in a way you cant blame the Clowns for shying away from their wrestling background: lets face it in today s show business world, those that try to seguay into more accepted forms of entertainment usually aren't taken seriously and end up . . .back in wrestling. See Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper Jim Hellwig and Bret Hart.
So how was the show? Well lets just say an Insane Clown Posse concert is unlike anything you have ever experienced before. 'Id hardly call it a concert anyway- Im sorry but two guys talking on a microphone over prerecorded tracks is not "music". But ICP are hams, not musicians anyway. As a matter of fact it's really hard to classify exactly what an ICP show is. ICPs Carnival of Carnage is less a concert than a true spectacle of hybrid performance art, theater of the absurd, and a clown show from hell. But its a lot of fun to watch.
Borrowing heavily off their sometimes terrifying but ultimately unsatisfying "Riddle Box" and the witty near classic "Gret Milenko"(if you can past the endless references to testicles), ICP performed a great 50 minute set. The first thing that was striking was their set, a mock up a carnival, complete with a funhouse and dancing clowns and freaks, which was really cool. The second was Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent Js stage presence, which, even during some of the groups weaker songs, were able to keep the party going. But perhaps the most unforgettable thing about the show was . . . well, the Faygo.
At the start of the set, two stagehand dancing clowns brought in two wheelbarrows of 2 liter bottles of Faygo soda, which the Insanes proceeded to shake up and spray on the crowd. Then they nearly ran out. So the clowns brought out more. And more. And more. During the entire 50 minute show Shaggy 2 and Violent J literally showered the crowd with soda. And never stopped. They even poured soda on themselves. Violent J was especially creative, kicking the bottles into the balcony and slamming them on stage, so that they would bounce back up in a stream of decarbonated terror all over anyone foolish enough to stand within 50 feet of the stage. Now if this sounds crazy in itself, what is even more sick is that the crowd loves it!
Frankly, even if the show would have totally sucked, it would have been worth the price of admission alone just to watch these two nutcases do this for 50 minutes as the crowd begged for more.
Which they really didnt have to do. A few times during the show the music was interrupted for a "Faygo Break", which saw two of the backup clowns douse the crowd with buckets of water! And yes, by the last Faygo Break, the crowd rushed the stage to get doused. What is this country coming to?
Dan Moreland is a columnist for Pro Wrestling's Between The Sheets - for comments or opposing viewpoints please e-mail to Dan Moreland