In early 2020, fear and confusion swept the globe, and everyone grasped desperately for direction as the COVID crisis spread. Large touring groups and festivals were in an especially difficult spot, forced between risking the health of crew and fans by remaining open, or sacrificing significant money by pulling the plug too early.
Many were surprised when the Insane Clown Posse were among the first voices of reason—cancelling their long-standing annual Gathering of the Juggalos pre-emptively in the interest of keeping their fans safe.
So, when ICP announced in 2021 that the Gathering would be coming back in August, the Juggalos were rightly eager to return to their favourite place, their family reunion—or as most of them would call it, home.
It was with this spirit of renewal that the 2021 Gathering of the Juggalos began, but it took little time for an unexpected change to call all of that into question. During the ICP seminar—an annual ‘State of the Family’ address made by ICP to the Juggalos in attendance—Violent J dropped a bombshell on the crowd. He’s been suffering with heart failure, and would need to step away from full-time touring in the near future.
Although the band promised a worldwide farewell tour, and to continue annual events, the Juggalos—in attendance and following around the world—were understandably devastated. While the news wasn’t all bad—it’s not a fatal condition, and can be managed—it represented to many a loss greater than regular concerts.
To anyone in attendance, and countless Juggalo the world over, the Insane Clown Posse means more than music or shows. Concerts and Gatherings aren’t just parties, they’re an opportunity to get together with like-minded people. For many, it’s a chance to feel at home that is rarely afforded elsewhere in life.
Whatever the path people take to embrace ICP and call themselves a Juggalo, what they find in the carnival grounds tends to be defined by a pervasive sense of community, understanding, love, and unconditional acceptance. The Dark Carnival is a deliverance from a world that might otherwise be cold and cruel, and a chance to speak up against the hate that pervades other communities. As such, any ICP event thusly becomes a sort of baptism by Faygo—a cleansing, rejuvenating experience.
To be sure, this world has grown beyond the wildest dreams of ICP, and the Juggalos have long been hailed as the main attraction at any ICP event. Nonetheless, at the head of this strange menagerie since the beginning have been ICP themselves—Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J. Together, the two of them created a musical saga like no other in history, and built a refuge for weirdos, freaks, and loners in the process.
Their music has been the soundtrack to countless lives, and it is their constant hard work, planning, and creativity that have provided the backdrop of many Juggalo’s favourite memories.
To have this change is a scary thing, and worse yet is the fear over one of the beloved band members—Violent J. But while a ‘Farewell Tour’ sounds like the end, the band have promised ongoing activities, and increased musical output. Since the early 90’s, ICP have boldly claimed that, ‘the wicked clowns will never die’, and their ongoing determination to carry on the best they can and deliver for the Juggalos lends credence to that boast.
Still, many wait anxiously to see what the future holds. Change is never an easy prospect, and loss is far worse.
So, uncertainty prevails for now, and we all hold our breath and hope for the best. Until then, this Juggalo remains eternally thankful for the journey so far, and eager for the rest as the wagons roll on, wherever they may go.
-Brad OH Inc.