Juggalos are going to throw things. A group of enthusiastic, fun-loving, preternaturally crunk folks, I’m pretty sure they’re not always attempting to down the S.S. Tila Tequila with a random volley of cans and water bottles, but just adding to a spirited sense of chaos. The first rain of trash came after skate-metal sludgeadors CKY humped their way through a 6 p.m. set. In the interim, the occasional flying water bottle turned into an out-and-out trash war, stage right vs. stage left. Cans, bottles, two-liters, all seeming fuller and wetter as the battle waged on; climaxing with some bottle rockets that security swiftly confiscated.
Before the trash started on his performance, Juvenile was singing that familiar refrain, “I think I’m a new f***ing Juggalo. I’m gonna wild the f*** out. Can I come back next year?” within the first 10 minutes of a presumably well-compensated set. Sporadically, a bottle or can would zing stageward, which seemed like friendly fire from a crowd very merrily bouncing along to “U Understand” and “Nolia Clap.” “You don’t want to start that because I’ll start humming shit at you, n****,” Juve responded. Another bottle clipped the stage. He retorted, “Show a little respect. The next motherf***er that throws something up here, f*** him up for me… or else I’m gone.” Someone yelled back, “Get used to it.” You can pretty much guess what happened next. A single bottle landed a couple yards away from the rapper and his disappointed face said it all. He cued DJ Smallz that the show was going to end abruptly and added, ‘Y’all b**** as shit.” This time more than one bottle followed.
• Lil Jon, who is probably more accustomed to club chaos, handled the errant can with much more aplomb, offering hilariously tossed off and fake-angry commentary, “Thanks for hitting me in the ass with a f***ing beer, douchebag.” Without his arsenal of guest rappers, his set was a non-stop screamfest of choruses from practically every song he’s had anything to do with — including ones by Trillville, Lil Scrappy, Crime Mob and the other half of “Snap Yo Fingers” that E-40 started yesterday. The crowd went absolutely berserk and the third row felt like a constant hailstorm of water and ice-cold Faygo—it was extra hilarious watching the professional photographers hurriedly trying to shield their expensive cameras from the sticky goo. “F*** the other bullshit, throw some weed up here,” Jon joked. He returned the favor by spraying champagne on everyone.
• The entrepreneurial spirit was in full effect on day two, cardboard signs offering everything from $20 samplings of OG kush, $10 tarot readings, $3 body shots and one enterprising dude with a beard advertising a discounted “meet-and-greet with Zach Galifianakis.” Anywhere, a single dollar could get you ice water, a cold Faygo, a bottle of Gatorade, a quick look at some boobs or a jello shot. Most unique offer that I didn’t take dude up on to see if he was serious: “You can play with my dick (no homo) — $3.50”
• Ice Cube doesn’t play by anyone’s rules — his set didn’t even include a “woop woop” until Lil Jon (now wearing an ICP t-shirt!) joined him for “Go To Church.” Cube had his own iconic “YAY-EE, YAY-EE” to peddle, and he commands a stage so forcefully — mean-mugging right down the center of the crowd — that everyone had no choice but to follow. He relied way too heavily on tracks from his crappy post-Lethal Injection output, but performed everything with such brassy gusto that no one seemed to mind—especially since when played his horrorcore v.1.5 anthem “Natural Born Killaz,” resulting in a little bit of crowd-surfing.
• Some dudes from Houston built a very impressive makeshift strip club complete with flashing lights, pumping music and a tattooed stripper in a bandana — all of which would have been way cooler in the age before camera phones.
• Performing at the Gathering comedy tent seems like a true test of a one’s ability to roll with the punches. “Nerd rage” icon Brian Posehn did a 3:30 a.m. set (maybe the latest he’s ever performed, he told me) which was punctuated by fireworks and a dude adding commentary via megaphone. “That never happens at a comedy club. That is bringing heckling to a new level. Congrats.” Posehn did a joke about attempting to use a six-foot bong he had in college and within minutes an actual six foot bong was kindly presented to him. This was followed by someone offering him mushrooms mid-show. “I’m not doing shrooms with you, man! I’m a grown-ass man,” he said. “I have to jump on an airplane in two hours.”
Christopher R. Weingarten is the author of Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, and Hipster Puppies. He Tweets record reviews at @1000timesyes.
Nate “Igor” Smith is a nightlife and event photographer whose work had appeared in the Village Voice, Vice, Penthouse, Rolling Stone, LA Weekly and XXL. He runs the photo blog Driven By Boredom.