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Monday, May 18, 2009

End Hits Concert Challenge #1: Twiztid at Roseland, Sat May 16

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Mon, May 18, 2009 at 3:32 PM

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Dearest End Hits Readers: We take our show-going duties very seriously here. But sometimes we like to mix things up and combine our two true loves in this world: live music and illegal gambling. That was the initial motivation behind The End Hits Concert Challenge, where upon losing a bet, a blogger of ours will be annexed at a show (of someone else's choosing). Also, they must partake in this activity sober, alone, and stay for the entire show. Plus, the added salt to the wound comes in the form of a 500-word review to be published here.

Yes, it's cruel, but much like the firm hand of discipline we all longingly crave, these concert challenges keep our staff sharp and alert. It also makes us afraid to bet on anything. In the coming weeks and months, we'll all partake in a series of these dares, but for now, enjoy our initial post of The End Hits Concert Challenge.


I HAVE STARED INTO THE FACE OF HELL, AND IT IS WEARING CLOWN PAINT

Did you have a pleasant weekend? The weather was great, wasn’t it? How was your Saturday night? No doubt you spent it with friends and loved ones, doing some sort of pleasurable activity. Guess what I did—I attended the Twiztid concert at the Roseland! For the uninitiated, Twiztid is a second-tier clown-rap band, ranking just below Insane Clown Posse on the Juggalo hierarchy. The Roseland became a gathering place of Juggalo young and old alike—though mostly young, with face paint to match their idols. In addition to Twiztid, there were four other bands on the bill—Boondox, Potluck, Prozak, and Moonshine Bandits—so Saturday’s four-hour show was a veritable marathon of clown-ninja-rap.52e6/1242673449-nofacepaint.jpgSo, yeah, I lost a bet. Otherwise I would never have gone to this show. I’ve never owned a Twiztid album. I’ve never tasted Faygo. I am definitely not a Juggalo. A “Juggalo” is what a fan of the Insane Clown Posse, or one of the other bands on the Psychopatic Records label, calls himself. There are also “Juggalettes,” which are female Juggalos, even though the majority of Clown Posse/Twiztid lyrics that deal with women speaks about them in violent terms. There were a handful of Juggalettes at the show, but there were also a few (a very small few) non-Juggalette girlfriends there to accompany their Juggalo boyfriends. Seeing them, I sadly realized that no one will ever love me enough to stand by me if I ever became a Juggalo.

Insane Clown Posse have a rap called “What Is a Juggalo?” A sampling of the lyrics:

What is a juggalo? He drinks like a fish,
And then he starts huggin’ people like a drunk bitch,
Next thing he’s pickin’ fights with his best friends,
Then he starts with the huggin’ again, fuck,
What is a juggalo? A fuckin’ lunatic.
Somebody with a rope tied to his dick,
Then he jumps out a 10-story window!
What is a juggalo?
A juggalo? If that’s what it is, well fuck if I know.
What is a juggalo?
I don’t know, but I’m down with the clown, and I’m down for life, yo.
What is a juggalo? He ain’t a bitch boy.
He’ll walk through to the hills and beat down a rich boy.
Walks right in the house where ya havin’ supper,
And dip his nuts in ya soup-e-bloop!
What is a juggalo? Well he ain’t a phoney.
He’ll walk up and bust a nut in your macaroni.
And watch you sit there and finish up the last bit,
Cuz you’re a stupid-ass dumb fuckin’ idiot.
To judge by this song, Juggalos are drunks and lunatics, capable of both physical assault and sexual crimes. I don’t think a Juggalo would take exception to this depiction.

There is even a yearly Gathering of the Juggalos festival, and the FAQ at the Gathering of the Juggalos website reads:

Can I sleep in my car?
If you are so inclined you may sleep in your car. YOU MAY NOT SLEEP IN YOUR CAR WITH THE WINDOWS ROLLED UP. There is simply too much danger of dehydration, suffocation and heatstroke to allow sleeping in cars with closed windows.
Just remember, Juggalos Die in Hot Cars. An article about the Juggalos appeared in the Mercury in 2004; it can be read online here.

On Saturday night, the Roseland was filled with these face-painted folks, many with tiny braids in their hair, a goodly portion of them significantly overweight and shirtless. The impression was of a collection of super enthusiastic, face-painted football fans, without a team to root for.

Some of the openers were actually not part of the face-painted clown rap stable, at least as far as I could tell. Prozak just seemed like an average hiphop duo, although one of the guys might have been wearing eyeliner. Potluck was pretty much your garden variety aggro weed rap, with songs like “Smoke the Pain Away,” and “Shut the Fuck Up.” If you’ve ever been to a hiphop show before, you know that the majority of them are pretty tedious, with the emcees roaming the stage to a pre-recorded backing track. This didn’t seem any different, except more moshing.

Boondox, however, proudly wore the crazy clown white face paint. One of them was dressed like a priest. They rapped about being crazy. See, they are crazy ninjas. I thought they were lip-synching some of the time, but I couldn’t really tell. Finally, Twiztid came out. The two each stood on a podium like malevolent dictators, as fucked-up cartoons played on a screen behind them. They each had the white face paint on, but didn’t look so much like clowns as Misfits wannabes. Otherwise, they were smartly dressed in suits and ties. The fat one—do clown rap duos always have a fat one?—frequently shouted to the audience, “Where my fat motherfuckers at?” (They were everywhere.)

Despite all this weirdness going on, it became very clear that, clown makeup and crazy fans aside, this was a rap show, and not a particularly interesting one. It is so easy for a rap show to become boring. No band, no spontaneity, just two dudes barking into the mic to a pre-recorded audio track (and, in this case, video). In between raps, the Juggalos (Juggaloes?) would break into chants, which again reminded me of sports superfans. One chant was “Whoo, whoo!” A lone Juggalo would begin this chant, then the others would respond. “Whoo, whoo!” It sounded like a choo choo train! Another chant was “Fam-i-ly! Fam-i-ly! Fam-i-ly!” You see, all the Juggaloes are part of one big happy Juggalo family. Despite the lyrics of the songs being about murder, death, and psychotic activity, they are all united, and love each other, and peace or something? I couldn’t quite figure it out.

At the close of their set, one of the Twiztid guys took a moment to address the crowd. “I want to motherfuckin’ thank you for motherfuckin’ standing by us in every motherfuckin’ thing we do!” he shouted. The cult of Juggalos cheered.

I wondered, though, would the Juggalos stand by Twiztid if they came out with a giant turd of an album? (Would anyone notice?) What if they did a drum-and-bass album? What if they washed off the face paint and rented a house in Woodstock and came back with a jaunty back-porch collection of harmony-laden folk songs? What if one of them got involved with a Japanese conceptual artist, who started contributing to the project and caused a tremendous rift between them?

Would the Juggalos still offer their blind allegiance? Or would the cult be diminished?

I can understand why Juggalos exist. It’s a very common case of disenfranchised white youth, maybe poor or not incredibly well educated, getting out aggression and hostility by witnessing art that depicts violence. It’s the same thing as those Saw movies or any number of videogames. This just happens to involve wearing face paint and fucking shit up. I wonder what would have happened to these Juggalos and Juggalettes if someone, while they were at that tender, impressionable age, gently tapped them on the shoulder and said, “Here. This is Robert Johnson. He sings about death and pain. This is Howlin’ Wolf. He sings about murder and about being overweight. Put those clown records away and listen to this.”

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