A little more than a week ago, Insane Clown Posse, the Detroit horrorcore rap duo known for painted faces and devoted fans who call themselves Juggalos, led a march in Washington, D.C., to protest the federal government's classification of Juggalos as a gang.

On Monday, the group brought its "dark carnival" of a show to Boulder for a raucous, and drink-drenched, concert.

The drink in question is Diet Faygo Root Beer, with which ICP makes a habit of spraying their crowds. A ludicrous amount of soda was tossed, squirted, spit, shot and launched from the Boulder Theater stage on Monday night as ICP ran through an hourlong set.

Brian Garcia and Angel Van Doren whoop it up as they wait in line for the Insane Clown Posse show at the Boulder Theater on Monday night. It was Van
Brian Garcia and Angel Van Doren whoop it up as they wait in line for the Insane Clown Posse show at the Boulder Theater on Monday night. It was Van Doren's first ICP concert and Garcia's sixth or seventh — he wasn't sure. (Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer)

The auditorium ceiling at the theater is roughly 50 feet high, and it's safe to wager that in the venue's 111-year history it had escaped a good pop-splashing until Monday night, when ICP's Violent J, at least twice, hurled a Faygo bottle so high it careened off the historic ceiling.

ICP fans often mimic the face-paint styles invariably worn by Violent J and his ICP partner, Shaggy 2 Dope. The unusual scene around 14th Street in downtown Boulder near the theater on Monday evening was full of fans in clown makeup, black ICP garb and carnival outfits. A chant of "psychopathic family" periodically rose up. The grim reaper, in the form of a person on stilts, made an alarming appearance.


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The Boulder Theater frequently hosts rock shows, but it's also a go-to venue for gentler singer-songwriter and folk types, like Emmylou Harris or Elephant Revival, and the ICP booking seemed a bit out of character.

Half a dozen acts preceded the Posse's set, which was scheduled to begin at 11:25 p.m. By about midnight, after almost an hour had elapsed since rapper R.A. The Rugged Man had vacated the stage, a full auditorium of Juggalos grew restive and began to chant "What the f***! What the f***!" A rumor had begun to circulate that ICP had just landed at Denver International Airport when the band finally took the stage with staggeringly loud bass drops.

Shaggy 2 Dope of the Insane Clown Posse sprays fans with Faygo soda during the group’s performance at the Boulder Theater on Monday night.
Shaggy 2 Dope of the Insane Clown Posse sprays fans with Faygo soda during the group's performance at the Boulder Theater on Monday night. (Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer)

In 2011, The National Gang Intelligence Center's National Gang Threat Assessment described Juggalos as "a loosely-organized hybrid gang" who sometimes "exhibit gang-like behavior and engage in criminal activity and violence." Colorado was named as one of 22 states where Juggalos were present.

ICP is fighting the designation, and the band, along with its label, Psychopathic Records, and the American Civil Liberties Union, has brought litigation against the U.S. Department of Justice, seeking a retraction of the "gang" classification. The description has caused the band's fans to be denied military service, lose child custody and suffer other injustices, the band says.

For all the frightful iconography, menacing tone and allusions to violence that come with ICP's music, the strongest undertones of the Posse's event in Boulder were solidarity and — explicitly, as stated from the stage — love. The essence of the "psychopathic family" is not the crazy part, it's the family part, and what family isn't a little insane?

Several Boulder police officers were stationed at the show, both inside and outside the theater. They reported no criminal incidents all night. One officer, asked how things were going, described the scene as "polite."

Quentin Young: quentin@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/qpyoungnews