Tuesday, August 7th through Monday, August 13th, 2012
The 13th Annual Gathering of the Juggalos
Saturday, August 11th, 2012
At 8:30am, I was awoken by blaring music coming out of the van at the campsite next to us. Knowing that everyone stays awake so late, I'm just not sure why people wake up early and play their music so loudly when everyone around them is probably sleeping. So, irritated, I popped my head out of my tent and told the guys that we had 8 people at our camp that were still trying to sleep, and would they mind turning the music down. The reaction I got was like they didn't even realize that they had the music turned up! So thankfully they turned it down, but the omnipresent "Pssshhhhh" of their nitrous tanks continued.
After another hour and a half or so, I was finally awake for the day. Today was another big day, with the Twiztid seminar happening during the day, followed by the best evening lineup of the year...POD, Blaze, Tech N9ne and ICP all in the same night! Awesome! Ray and Chris were hanging around the camp that morning, so I spent a good deal of time hanging out with them before I headed off for my shower. They both decided to wait until later in the day to shower since the line was always so long, so I ended up walking up the dreaded hill by myself. Of course it turned out that there was no line at the men's shower that morning...figures haha. Once I was showered and fresh for the day, I came back to camp. In anticipation of the Faygo Armageddon that I was intent on being in the middle of that night, I changed into my black Faygo shirt, which was a gift from my friend Don. When he gave it to me, he told me that it was the shirt he wore to concerts back in the day, so now I try to wear it to concerts as well. I also figured that it would be particularly appropriate for an ICP show since...well, Faygo...you know. I know that I had lunch at some point before I headed out too, but I honestly don't remember what I had.
The only partner I was gonna have for the Twiztid seminar was Jamie, so around noon, we both headed out so we could grab our seats. When we arrived, it was already really full and we didn't see two seats together. So I found a spot in almost the exact same spot that I had for the ICP seminar, while Jamie stayed over near the entrance on the left side. Before we left the camp, I'd made the deal with him that if he could sell the rest of my carton of cigarettes, I would pay him $5. So once we found seats, he ended up selling a few packs, then said he was going to walk around for a while before the seminar started.
So I waited for probably another hour, and then I see Jamie pop back up out of the corner of my eye and yell my name from the outside of the tent. He motioned that all of the cigarettes had been sold, then held out this HUGE wad of cash in my direction!! OMG. Everyone right near me was watching him as he did it, so I quickly got up and grabbed the cash, and stuffed it into my purse without even counting it. I mean, it looked like he was handing me over $5000! Realistically it was probably about $50, but it was all $1s, so it was a huge stack of money haha
Once again, the camera didn't take many good pics during the Twiztid seminar
At almost exactly 2:00pm (again, an on time arrival...this amazed me every time it happened...), Twiztid arrived and started their seminar. They came out on stage with a big bucket of bacon, which was apparently a promise that was made in 2010, but not fulfilled until this year. They spoke a little bit about Abominations and what to expect with it, which made me get even more excited for it than I already was! When they started taking questions, they handed off the bucket of bacon to Upchuck, who wandered around and handed out the bacon to anyone who had a good question for Twiztid.
In general, once again, they were very entertaining with their seminar, though I didn't think it was quite as side-splittingly funny as last year's was. They addressed questions about everything from doing a Stank and Poot movie, to Jamie making a Juggalo workout video, to writing an autobiography. With almost every question, they answered by saying that they'd like to do that, but that they don't have the time. Then they'd make a motion like they were throwing it in the air and it was sticking there...and by the time they were done answering questions, they had probably a dozen things hanging in the air above them. Hopefully they get to some of it (like the movie!) because I'd love to see what they could do with some of the projects that were mentioned. Once they were done taking questions, they told Upchuck to throw the rest of the bacon into the crowd, and since I was sitting near him when he did it, I ended up catching some of the bacon as it flew through the air haha
When their seminar was over, I headed back to camp and decided to just chill out for a while since there wasn't anything going on that I wanted to do until the main stage acts started. I really just sort of ended up doing a bunch of nothing for a couple of hours. I hung out with whoever was at camp, and ended up hanging out with the guys across the street for a while too. As we sat there, I saw Rude Boy roll up on a golf cart, and point at the mailbox and say something. Everyone else said that he'd stopped by earlier when I wasn't there and had taken a picture with it, so I quickly jumped up and asked if I could take a picture of him with it too.
So he posed with it, pretending to be checking his mail...
...then I jumped in and got a photo with him too. Nice! I also saw Killa roll by once and point at it, but he didn't stop...boy I wish he had. That would have been cool too.
One of the thoughtful gifts that ended up in the mailbox this day
At one point while we were all hanging around, Jamie took the gallon of water he had and wrote "ICP" really big in the dirt in the middle of the road. Well, as people started to walk by, they started to comment on it, and walk around it so they wouldn't mess it up. So then Jamie took a bottle of water and started to draw out a large hatchetman with it.
Completely freehand, and at times upside down, he drew out a great looking hatchetman in the dirt!
The finished masterpiece
So we sat back for a while, with Jamie sitting right up at the street happily pointing out the hatchetman to people. This time, most people were walking around it, and guys started asking Jamie if he had peed it! Almost every guy that walked by it was like "Woah! Did you piss that??" Eventually, Jamie ended up telling them all yes! It was so funny to hear so many people ask the same question, then get so impressed when Jamie said yes! Too funny!
Jamie pretends to touch up the drawing
More new homies stopping by to mess with the mailbox
A little before 7:00pm, it was time to start heading up to main stage. Chris was the only other person who was interested in getting up close for ICP so he could get covered in Faygo, so the two of us ended up sticking near each other most of the rest of the night. I had all of the stuff inside my purse inside a big Ziploc bag, so everything was going to stay nice and dry while the rest of me got soaked. One thing I'd bought to bring this year was a hard hat insert to fit inside my baseball cap, which should shield my head from any flying objects or crowd surfers. So I made sure that that was in my bag and ready to go as I headed out as well. I also took along a bottle of margarita and a bottle of Sprite with gummy bear vodka so I'd have something to sip on through the night. On my way I made another bathroom stop near Spazmatic, and once again I hit it right after the Port-a-potties had been cleaned, thank heavens.
While I was inside, a guy was spray painting "FBI eat shit" across the front of three of the stalls, which drew a cheering crowd.
At main stage, I arrived just before P.O.D. took the stage, but missed the whole Cold 187 set. I started to drink on my Sprite and gummy bear vodka, and was feeling very nice by the time P.O.D. took the stage. I LOVE P.O.D., and even just went to one of their shows in Nashville back in May. So I was very excited to see them perform. This was kind of a similar vibe to when Saliva played at last year's Gathering...they're a Christian hard rock band who, on the surface of it, don't seem to have much of a Juggalo following. But much like Saliva, everyone seemed to really enjoy P.O.D.'s set. They got a little bit of stuff thrown at them, but nothing too bad, and they kept right on going as though they were headlining the show. I was particularly impressed that Sonny climbed out onto the barricade and leaned out into the crowd in the same way that he did at the Nashville show.
It was great...the whole performance was great...I just love them. By the time they sang "Alive" I was feeling so relaxed and happy, and sang along at the top of my lungs. It did seem to sum up my Gathering experience quite well..."I feel so alive for the very first time, and I think I can fly." That's pretty much exactly the way that I felt as I sat at camp the night before.
After P.O.D., the crew took to setting up Blaze's set, which was one of the better ones I saw. He had a platform that he laid on and pretended to be dead, with two columns with flower vases, and a large picture of himself, altogether making up a funeral scene. It wasn't incredibly elaborate, but it was very fitting for his character, IMO.
Ric Flair was the main stage host for the night, and he looked SO not interested in anything that was going on. He'd walk out and was smiling ear to ear...then barely say anything besides "Woooooo." Whatever. Really, I didn't mind at all that Psy didn't have anyone really famous as the main stage hosts since they're not who we're there to see, and they spend so little time on stage anyway.
Well, Blaze's set was great, as I'd expected. I really love watching Blaze live since I find him so very entertaining for whatever reason. His set started out with a priest coming out and saying some kind of prayer that brought Blaze back to life, and he performed the entire rest of the set wearing the same suit that he came back to life in (well, he did shed the jacket at some point...I can only assume it was way too hot to wear the entire time!).
Among others, he sang Walk It Out, complete with his funny walks all over the stage, and Holy Shit, which was one of those songs that I seemed to hear EVERYWHERE all through the Gathering. Pamela said she had noticed the same thing, how Gang Rags was always playing over the speakers in between artists. So songs like Holy Shit, Lights Out and Tokyo Spa became the enduring soundtrack of this Gathering, kind of like how Bitch I'm Sexy and Buckets of Blood did last year. Blaze also ended up bringing out the ROC for a couple of songs toward the end of the set, which was cool. At the very end of his set, he also mentioned that he was gonna be performing a Drive By set with ABK at 3:00am at second stage...WOW! Totally unexpected, but totally awesome!!
After Blaze, I had ended up almost at the center of the stage, with only one person in front of me at the barricade. The plan was to try and hang out there until ICP went on so I could say that I had been that close and toughed out the ICP pit at the Gathering. It was jam packed, but I was determined to stick it out. I'd also started talking to some of the people around me, and had shared some of my Sprite and gummy bear vodka with them (which one really drunk guy declared to be his "new favorite thing" of the Gathering haha). Seeing as how I wanted to try and be sober if I was going to brave the ICP pit, I didn't drink almost any of the margarita I'd brought. It also bears mentioning that Chris stayed over my shoulder almost the entire night, so he was right up there in the middle of the action as well.
So next up was Tech N9ne, with Krizz Kaliko hyping. Now normally I'd be cheering and pumping my fists for him. But as soon as the lights went down for him to come onstage, the crowd shoved forward and I was sandwiched in the crowd to the point that I couldn't move at all! Even keeping my balance was a struggle because people were constantly trying to muscle their way around you to get in front of you. So pretty much, I wasn't even able to enjoy Tech's set :-( It was too crowded and busy to try to back up, and since I was so smashed, I couldn't even move my arms enough to get my camera out to take photos. Since I was in the center, crowd surfer after crowd surfer was getting dumped right on top of me, which made the security guards tell us all to just duck our heads and let them pick the crowd surfers up over our heads. And MAN was I glad that I'd invested the $7 in that hard hat insert because I easily took 7 or 8 hard hits to the head from either crowd surfers or things being thrown, and none of it phased me. Best investment ever!
As far as the actual set went, of course Tech is amazing, even if I was only able to enjoy him in the background as I fought for my own survival! The one song I distinctly remember was Welcome to the Midwest, which for some reason made the crowd settle down just enough that I could actually enjoy the performance for a minute. They also had Mayday come out and sing The Noose with them, which was cool, and the same thing they did at the Nashville show.
As soon as Tech N9ne left the stage...I bailed. I was getting very tired from all the struggling to remain standing, and getting kicked in the head got very old very quickly. There's just no glory in being front row center at one of these shows since you're just not able to enjoy it when the crowd is that violent. So I backed up maybe 10 or 15 feet, and it was like a whole different world! People were giving each other personal space, and no one was pushing and shoving. That was more like it! Chris was also back there, so I stood by him again and waited for the Geto Boys to perform.
Well I'm not familiar at all with the Geto Boys, aside from having read Behind the Paint and knowing that they were one of the biggest influences in the early years of ICP. Honestly, I don't think all that many people are big fans of the Geto Boys these days, and the crowd during their performance showed that. No one seemed to know any of the words, and people didn't seem to get excited when they would start to sing a song, as though they recognized the song and were excited to hear it. They had quite a bit of stuff thrown at them as well, which I thought was really uncalled for. Knowing the history between Geto Boys and ICP, I would have expected people to show some respect for them, even if you didn't know their music.
So finally, it was time. I had successfully made it through the Gathering without so much as a flying turkey leg stopping me from being within spraying distance for the ICP performance! As you may or may not know, last year I ended up being clocked in the eye with a half eaten turkey leg that was thrown through the main stage crowd about four sets before ICP was going to perform. So since I had a fresh, open eye wound, I didn't think that it was wise to get close enough to get wet during the ICP set. But that was different this year! Thanks in part to my hard hat, and in part also to the Juggalos just generally being more well behaved this year, I didn't have a scratch on me, and was ready to dance in the Faygo rain! It didn't take long for them to get set up for ICP, and when they started hauling out the containers full of Faygo bottles, everyone cheered like mad.
I'm ready! (So's Chris!)
The Faygo shirt, ready for the Faygo Armageddon
When their set started, they were both in little cages, and were introduced by a circus ringmaster. Then they immediately went into singing Chris Benoit, which I guess signaled the official start of the Mighty Death Pop Era. After a while, the Faygo started to be cracked open, but I was just a little too far back in the crowd to get sprayed directly by them! Rats! But as they threw the bottles, I got a few good splashes, even from my distance. Chris had moved up farther than me right before they started, so I could only assume that he was getting soaked by that point!
After a while, I was so engrossed in the performance that it has made me forget exactly what was played. I know that at one point, Shaggy climbed up the scaffolding at the right edge of the stage, and from probably 20 feet or more in the air, dove straight off of it into the crowd! Amazing! I also saw Chris come back to where I was standing, exhausted from trying to hold his own in the mosh pit that was going on just in front of me. While people were still packed in pretty well where I was, no one was pushing or shoving, and everyone was having a great time. Well, except for this one chick who was throwing herself full force onto everyone around her for a while. She did it maybe three or four times before everyone banded together, boosted her up on top of the crowd, and crowd surfed her away hahaha
For the finale, just like last year, they played Bang! Pow! Boom! And WOW! It was so incredible to be that close for it! Fireworks started going off overhead, and they brought out the fire hose that was spraying Faygo WAY back into the crowd. This was the point when I really started to get soaked, and the flavor of the year was Blueberry Raspberry since it was bright blue coming out of the hose! Chris said that at one point the hose came our way and sprayed him directly in the face! I didn't quite take any direct hits like he did, but I did get sprayed with it really close quite a few times, and ended up pretty well soaked all over! By the time the music was dying down and the crowd was dispersing, the Faygo hose was still going, so I ended up getting sprayed a few times even after the show was officially over.
Through the set, I caught not one but TWO Faygo bottles straight out of the air, so I held onto them tightly as I could. Once the music died down around 1:15am, I found Chris again and began the cold, wet march back to the campsite.
When we got back to the camp, I wasted no time in heading into my tent, taking off all of my Faygo soaked clothes and stashing them in their own garbage bag for the ride home. I baby wiped down my entire body, which pretty remarkably, made me feel fresh enough that I wasn't jonesing for a shower immediately. Since I'd had on a hat and a bandana, my hair mostly stayed dry, so I just popped it up into a clip and decided to just wash it in the morning. When Pamela and Nick arrived back, Chris and I shared our stories of being close for the Faygo Armageddon, while they shared stories of laying out in the grass and watching the fireworks. When Moonshine got back, he said that he'd ended up sleeping through the ICP intro, and woke up right at the point when Shaggy jumped off the scaffolding. What an awakening that must have been haha
I had been pretty excited to see Mayday!, who were to start at 3:00am on the Freakshow stage, but since I'd just seen them in Nashville a little over a month ago, I opted to wait for Drive By instead since I've never seen them perform together. It was getting really chilly as I sat there at my camp, so I grabbed my hoodie again, but didn't feel the need to put back on the pants that I'd worn the first day. I was really hungry since I hadn't had dinner before the main stage performances started, so Moonshine said that he would join me so we could grab some dinner.
Thinking back to the delicious chicken gyro I'd had a few days before, I said that I'd like to have another one of those for dinner. Moonshine wanted some pizza, so we decided to grab mine as we walked, then grab his pizza and sit over in the table area near the food stalls to eat. My second one was just as overflowing as the first one, which again I thought was reasonable for $8. It's not exactly *cheap* but considering that you're at a music festival, I think it's a fair price for what you get. As we walked, Moonshine picked up his pizza, and we found a spot in basically the exact same spot where I'd had dinner with my asshole ex last year. Luckily time had worked its magic on that situation, and I was enjoying much better company this year :-) My gyro was SO GOOD but was very messy, and I ended up with juice/marinade all over both of my hands! Once I got myself and the table cleaned up, we both headed back to camp so we'd be on time for Drive By.
As it got later and later, people started to peel away and go to bed, so Moonshine and I were the only two that ended up going to watch Drive By. Well the 3:00am start time eventually turned into 4:00am, and we were both just standing around, freezing our tails off, in front of second stage. Had this been Mayday! that I was waiting for, I almost certainly would have gone on to sleep since I was so wiped out and cold, but I've got such mad love for both Killa and Blaze that I had to stay up and see what they did as Drive By. I also noticed that the night was cold enough that I could see my breath when I exhaled. Yes, this was August, and yes I was wearing a hoodie and seeing my breath. Crazy. Yet despite the cold, there was a couple up on top of the tech booth having...ahem, adult interactions...right there in front of everyone! Once again, welcome to the Gathering.
A little before 4:30am, Blaze and ABK finally rolled up on their golf carts and the show started. It was really cool to see them both perform without their makeup, and completely without any hint of being ABK and Blaze. I was very glad that I'd stayed up to watch them because who knows if I'll ever get to see them perform together as Drive By again!
They didn't do it at least year's Gathering, and I haven't heard of them doing any one-off Drive By shows anywhere else recently. Not to mention...man, I can sleep when I'm at home. I never had a moment during the Gathering where I chose sleep over doing something I really wanted to do. This is an opportunity that only comes around once a year, so I was going to "carpe Gathering" and do everything I possibly could, and sleep when I got home.
But speaking of sleep, once Drive By was done, I made no qualms about making a quick dash for my bed. Moonshine had by that point perfected the technique of getting past the barricade without being hassled, so I just followed him straight on through, and not a word was said to either of us. It was probably around 5:00am when I got to bed, and was once again very glad that I had warm, snuggly covers to welcome me.