Skyway Theatre, Minneapolis
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Snow is falling lightly over downtown Minneapolis. Too early for rush hour traffic, the streets are relatively quiet. Buses roll by. Pedestrians walk quickly with their heads down, shielding their eyes from the wet flakes. Suddenly, a call to arms pierces the relative silence.
The Skyway Theatre comes into view. A line is forming beneath its marquee - people of all shapes and sizes, young and old, some with their hair twisted up into tiny braids, others with faces painted up unnervingly like horror movie clowns. The line begins to stretch into the adjacent parking structure. A man again shouts out. The collective reply resonates from the back of the line, spilling out onto the street. "WHOOP WHOOP!"
It was not Halloween. It was a Wednesday evening in mid-April, and a Twiztid show was about to go down.
Inside the venue, a group of Juggalos lined the stairs up to the concert hall. Some were holding folders of artwork they had made, others clutching posters or Twiztid T-shirts. These were the lucky fans who were anxiously awaiting a meet and greet session with the horrorcore rap duo themselves, and they had come bearing gifts.
Once the doors were officially open, a crowd streamed in steadily. Women with their hair in neon dreadlocks wearing Twiztid jerseys that hung down to their knees and furry rave boots were accompanied by men with neck tattoos and blinged out "hatchet man" necklaces. No two clown faces were the same. Some more closely represented the early era of Twiztid -- with colors and shapes vaguely reminiscent of a jack-o-lantern's face. Others were more zombie-like, with a heavy concentration of darkness around the eyes. Others still were more avant-garde, more abstract.
An extremely tall gentlemen with his hair braided neatly out from his head in tiny green twists and a matching green button-up marched directly to the front of the floor, planting himself before the stage. The first act, Homegrown, presented their "wicked Minnesota music making bitches shout." Sick Addiction, the St. Paul rap duo of Rellik and Loki, immediately followed. Rellik wore a crafty marijuana leaf mask. Loki's face was painted as a leering clown frozen in a creepy perma-smile. Loki's more high-pitched voice complimented that of Rellik's lower one, much as Madrox's does to Monoxide.
The smell of marijuana began wafting throughout the room. The Juggalos were growing in number. With a hatchet peeking out from the pocket of his jeans, Bowzzer rode out onto the stage upon a miniature bicycle, breaking through a pile of cardboard boxes with question marks drawn on them. A bald blow up sex doll stood behind him. About halfway through his set, Bowzzer explained to the audience what a "giraffe pussy" is. "You know when you tryna' holler at a stuck up bitch?" he asked. "When they got their nose up in the air? I call that a giraffe pussy. You can't reach, man."
"Who wanna fuck up this stuck up ass bitch?" he asked, slamming the blow up doll face down into the floor repeatedly. The crowd screamed. He threw the disgraced inflatable into the audience where it functioned as a beach ball. Then he performed a super sexy-sounding song about finding a dead woman in an alley and taking her cadaver home to have sex with it.
"WE GO CHICKEN HUNTING! WE GO CHICKEN HUNTING!" the Juggalos chanted.[page]
Man I Axe started to get things a little more turnt with their slick-tongued raps and easy flow. There was a lull in the action, and a large man with a tiny, tiny hat strapped to his head by an elastic band entertained the crowd with some juggalo slam poetry, yelling "Peace, love and fat people!" Then, Johnny Questionmark began to a backdrop of oldschool-sounding beats. His sound was familiarly Minnesotan. Perhaps the most bangin' of his songs was the more electroclash influenced "6, 7, 8." Yet the crowd seemed to be getting restless. Surprisingly few people appeared to be drinking. The marijuana scent was growing.
Outside, the Juggalos were corralled by a metal gate to the side of the building, smoking. People walking by on the sidewalk either averted their eyes entirely or couldn't help but to blatantly stare. A couple of bros on the other side of the gate made some ignorant remarks and went largely ignored. Snow was still falling, and makeup was beginning to smear on sweaty faces. Inside, King Sandman was performing.
Young Lyte then took to the stage as the crowd chanted, "Magic, magic, ninjas, what?" The main lights went off and strobes started flashing. A deep sub bass accompanied Young Lyte's raspy voice as he rapped impossibly fast and climbed atop the speakers. "I got so any chicken heads, I could fill a chicken coop!" he told the crowd. A circle pit began to form. The Smokehouse Junkies followed, declaring, "We dress up as ourselves every year for Halloween!" A girl with glowsticks around her neck and arms grinded passionately to the beat.
The floor in the women's restroom had begun to flood. A girl waiting for one of the stalls to open was very angry with her friend. "No. No. He's my fucking boyfriend!" she yelled at her. "Call him. We share a phone. Call him and press dial," she said. "Call him and press dial."
Perhaps everyone was actually just drinking in secret, because as Blaze Ya Dead Homie went on, the drunkenness suddenly seemed palpable. Smoke from a fog machine shrouded the stage. Gunshots rang out, then darkness. As Blaze performed "Ain't No Grave for a Killer," the Juggalos went totally apeshit.
It felt as if the room was swaying. "I feel like I'm in an ocean!" a Jugalette exclaimed. Everyone was singing along. The air had instantly become sauna-like. Was it mist from the fog machine or steam from the sweat or both? Girls trying to crowd-surf kept getting pulled down by security. One particularly sexy Juggalette with pig tails danced atop a table. "I try to feel the sunshine... standing in the rain," Blaze sang, and the room sang with him. "Juggalo for life!" he screamed before leaving the stage. The Juggalos erupted in a chant. "FAMILY! FAMILY! FAMILY!"[page]
Then finally, after the opening ten acts had finished, Twiztid jumped on stage. The audience surged forward, screaming. "Where all the Juggalettes in the house tonight?" Madrox asked. "I wanna hear the nasty ass Juggalettes make some noise!" Juggalettes grinded up against their men. A young couple in matching face paint clung to each other, swaying to the music. A sea of custom-made Juggalo jerseys emblazoned with names like "Money Well" and "Grease Monkey" rushed to the front.
Just outside the door to the main concert area, a Juggalo who had partied too fast too soon leaned over and threw up on the floor. He pulled a garbage can toward himself and sat slumped over with his head inside the can.
The lights again went off, as the sweat continued to rise. The temperature had started to feel somewhat dangerous. Someone was waving what appeared to be a twirling baton in the air. A man walked by with two very convincing bullet holes painted onto the back of his head. Twiztid engaged everyone in an "I hate everyone!" call and response. Their makeup was perfect. What was their trick for keeping it from smearing?
Twiztid is a vibrantly energetic, engaging live act. They vibe off one another, bouncing around the stage and calling out to the audience, keeping everyone involved. It seemed as if every person there knew every single word to all of the 20+ songs they performed. Fists were held high in the air. Someone kept throwing handfuls of ice cubes. A tiny juggalette with a Pikachu backpack bobbed her head.
Then, a religious moment. There was so much love in the room. Earlier, a Juggalette had shared with me that one of her five children who was suffering from autism had been hospitalized. I had been touched by her openness and promised to say a prayer for her son. "If only I could get away from everything...spread my wings and fly," Twiztid sang. I was stunned by a realization. The family was love. This thing that I was surrounded by was so much bigger than me. These people, all shedding their fears and social anxieties in favor of acceptance and appreciation of individuality. This act of expressing aggression through music rather than physical violence. This feeling of connectedness and the joy that accompanies freedom from the struggle to conform. I said a prayer for the woman and her son.
"You're speaking from the heart," said Monoxide, "and when you're with family you're always welcome to do so."
"You mean everything to us," said Madrox. "If I had my hibachi grill, I'd throw on a couple of frankfurters and we'd all eat together right now."
Personal Bias: I will quote Icona Pop. "I DON'T CARE, I LOVE IT"
Overheard: "I am a grandma. I am a G.I.L.F." and "This is like Juggalo Perkins"(about being in the taco joint next door after the show)
Random notebook dump: Thank you to the kind Juggalo gentleman and his girlfriend who played hacky sack with me before the show and kept me from standing directly beneath a bird that apparently had the runs. Thank you to the hot juggalette with neon dreads who told me I remind her of Yolandi Visser. Thank you to my Mom for trying to understand.
What the Fuck
She Ain't Afraid
I Wanna Be Batman
How Does It Feel
Bitch I'm Sexy (w/ Blaze)
4ThoseOfU (w/ Blaze)
BusYoHeadOpen (w/ Blaze)
Lift Me Up (w/ Blaze)
They Told Me
We Don't Die
Rock the Dead
Afraid of Me
Down With Us
Murder, Murder, Murder
Love Don't Live Here
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