Gathering of the Juggalos '07

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

An excerpt from the novel A Novella Underground: Hip Hop, Juggalos and the Journey by Clay Conner. The full autobiographical account of his time as a touring underground hip hop artist under the name Big Slack is currently available on Amazon.

When I got booked for the Gathering of the Juggalos in 2007, I got a call directly to my home landline from Psychopathic Records. It wasn't the first call I had gotten from them. Earlier that year, they called and asked me to submit some tracks for an underground compilation they were putting together called Tunnel Runners. Apparently, Scottie D was their ear to the underground and he had given them my name and number. I didn't make the cut on the compilation but now I was getting a second call. I felt a bit like a blue-chip high school football player getting a call from the top college I wanted to play for and them telling me they knew who I was and were interested in me.

This year’s festival was being held in Cave-In-Rock, IL at a place called Hogrock Campgrounds. They were known for hosting biker rallies, so Juggalos shouldn't be that far out of the same realm of wildness. Psychopathic Records offered me free full admission to the four-day festival for me and my hype man, and that's it. No pay. I happily accepted!

What I wasn't exactly happy about was the placement of my set. There were three stages that year. Main stage (where the big names performed), second stage (where the lesser-known underground acts performed) and Bomb House stage (where everybody else that was left performed). Every one of my Riff Raff brothers (McNastee, Claas, Shy One, LaVey and Bloodshot) all got a spot on second stage. Guess where I was? Bomb House. Not only that, but everybody on the second stage had middle of the day slots, I was on in the middle of the night at 2am. What are ya gonna do?

That year the entire Riff Raff crew came deep! Me, iLL, and McNastee all came in one car, however, Psyko Scott rented an RV and decked it out. Plus, numerous other car loads of Riff Raffers were coming from all over the country to meet up with us. Trip and her crew got a hotel room in some super tiny town right outside of Cave-In-Rock. So, the plan was to crash with them the night before the Gathering, then drive on in the next morning.

When we finally got to the hotel after an all-day drive, it was chaos. Every room had been booked by Juggalos with the same plan as us, all headed to the Gathering. They were all hype and ready to go. In our room specifically was more of the same chaos. It was me, iLL, McNastee, Trip, Oxi, Jac, and a single room with a two-person capacity. We were all fighting for space to sleep on the floor.

The next morning was go time. We got up early to make a move because we all knew what a nightmare the line to get in on the first day would be. When I say the trip into the Gathering that morning was some National Lampoon shit, that's exactly what I mean. Even though we were only about 30 miles away it took us several hours to get there. We got lost, repeatedly. On back roads, by a lake, in a cornfield (yes, an actual fucking cornfield). We'd see other cars with Hatchetman stickers and start to follow thinking they knew where they were going, they didn't. Other cars would see us and follow thinking we knew where we were going, we didn't. At one point, even though we were 10+ hours from home it was suggested we just head back.

Eventually, we found the X on the map though and got in line for the 2007 Gathering of the Juggalos. But the fun hadn't started quite yet. Stuck in a mile and a half line of cars standing completely still in the August heat was seeing to it that the fun wasn't starting yet. To make matters worse, McNastee's set (that I was his hype man on) started at 4pm that day and it was already about 1. We had no idea how long it was going to take to get situated on the grounds once we got in and we had no idea how long it was going to be until we even got in. McNastee decided to head on into the campgrounds on foot to get signed in and assess the situation.

The line did eventually begin to move and Nastee still wasn't back. We drove his car on in and found a parking spot in the lot outside the grounds. This is where we found Nastee having just left the nurse's tent with a case of heat stroke. He had found time to get all of our artist credentials and get heat stroke while he was gone.

Now the fun could begin. We strapped our bags on our backs and started to make our way to the grounds to find the crew. There were hundreds of Juggalos milling around everywhere. Everybody was buzzing with excitement.

“Holy shit there's McNastee, Big Slack and iLL!” an anonymous voice from the crowd bellowed.

We found our crews’ site and set up shop. Like I said, The Gathering is a family reunion so there's a lot of reuniting going on. The first person I remember seeing was Collin my WUMF homie from the Quad Cities. Collin is one of the cutest and coolest human beings I've ever met. I first crossed paths with her at the first WUMF I performed at and am still friends with her to this day. I also met longtime internet homie Twiztid Kegs. Kegs wasn't an artist but he was a bit of Jugga-celebrity. Psychopathic Records had put out a DVD called the Purple Show. It was just funny skits and random things. One of those random things was Kegs drinking an entire 40oz beer in one swallow. He also made it on the Howard Stern show one time when ICP was on there. But I digress, super cool dude and I'm glad we got to meet.

There wasn't a lot of time for socializing though because McNastee's set was starting soon. I was on a total of six sets over the first two days of the festival, not to mention there was going to be a Riff Raff set at our campsite on day three. I was on very little sleep from the previous 48 hours and my set wasn't even until 2am that night. Nonetheless, I had 8,000 Juggalos to entertain, so I could sleep when I was dead!

>When I got to the Bomb House stage I had a pleasant surprise waiting for me. I had been upset that everyone in the crew had a day spot on the second stage and I was thrown on the third option at night. However, the Bomb House was unquestionably better than second stage. First of all, it was under a huge circus style tent which changed the whole vibe of the crowd. It also had better sound and not to mention an entire light, smoke, and laser show ran by ICP's engineer himself.

The most important aspect of why this stage was better than the second stage was the crowd. During the day, there are other events at the festival to pull some people away from the second stage and thin out the crowd. Main stage acts are from about seven to midnight, then there is very little happening on the grounds. Other than the Bomb House stage! So, while the second stagers had a couple hundred people for their sets, I had a huge portion of the entire 8,000 Juggalos that attended the festival there to see me rock.

I could use a million different idioms and wild adjectives about how earth shatteringly dope the set was. And how everyone's wig was peeled so far back I opened up a toupee shop in the middle of my set and got rich. Just know that the set was dope!

After I got off stage everything was a blur of adrenaline. I talked to a ton of people all excitedly telling me how they first heard my music or how that was the first time they saw me and they liked it. These interactions are always weird to me and make me feel awkward. I broke away soon as I could to head back to the Riff Raff camp.

I expected to walk up on a crazy after party type scene reminiscent of the old school Foundation days. What I walked up on was lights out, everybody asleep, crickets. Come to find out more than half of the Riff Raff crew just straight up decided to go to bed instead of walk the 200 or so yards to see my performance. I don't know if that many people were that tired or if there was some type of hidden animosity there or what. Either way, I'd be lying if I said that shit didn't hurt my feelings.

The next day I had two more sets to perform on, Shy One and Jason Porter's. Jason Porter was an artist that I had done several tracks with and was performing one that day, but this was the first time I was meeting him. Me, iLL, and Nastee were playing zombies during a song on Shy One's set. We did this during a lot of Shy's shows. He had multiple rubber zombie masks for the occasion. I would stumble around all uncoordinated, then fall down, then take forever getting back up. My zombie acting skills were on point!

By later in the day, when it was time for Jason Porter's set (that Nastee was on too) Nastee and I were completely exhausted. We were on day three and half of almost no sleep, multiple performances, hours on the road, and eating very little and all of it junk. We decided after Porter's set we were heading back to Oklahoma. This would mean we would be shirking our duty to perform on the Riff Raff set at the Riff Raff campsite the following day. I felt like they had shirked their support for me the night before, so I didn't have a problem with it.

We did the Porter set and felt like it went well. You never know how someone's on stage presence will be and how it will mesh with yours. When I got off stage Daddy Longlegs from Wolfpac (also formerly of Bloodhound Gang) was backstage waiting to go on and perform a song he had with Jason Porter. We started to small talk. He told us he dug what we did. We told him that we were all packed up and headed back to Oklahoma right then.

He was sponsored by Rockstar energy drink and was leaning on a couple cases of it he had stacked on a backstage amp. He swooped the top case off and handed it to us.

“It's real out there. Be careful.”

With that he headed off to get on stage. We would put down about half that case of energy drinks on our overnight trip back home.

A testament to exactly how exhausted we were was this, on the way out we were all loaded down with our bags tromping through the parking lot when we pass a car with two really cute girls in it. They were rolling a blunt and not paying attention to us. When we got close they both notice us and one smiled really big.

“Heeeeeey ninjas!” the smiling one said coyly while rolling down her window.

A Juggalette mating call.

“Heeeeeey,” Nastee and I responded unenthused and in unison as we kept walking.

I'm sure it's good ninjette, but I won't know about it because I'm too tired and we got twelve-ish hours on the road to do.

One thing about the Gathering is it's on private property and most years the land owners don't allow cops on site. Which makes it a whole lot of fun on site but not much when you leave. The cops just set up shop outside and pull everybody over and pop anybody for anything they can. When we pulled off grounds we were no exception.

Cop walks up to the window and asks us both for our IDs. We give them to him and show him our artist credentials as well. His whole demeanor changed. He no longer had dirty ass Juggalos pulled over, he had celebrities pulled over.

“Are you anybody I might've heard of?” he asked with an air of excitement.

“Probably not. I'm McNastee and this is Big Slack.”

“Big Slut??” the cop inquired as he looked like he was being told a joke.

“No. Big Slack,” I corrected him.

“Oh. Big Slut used to be my name back in high school,” he joked.

We obligatorily laughed and he gave us our IDs back. He never ran anything. This incident and the time back at Club Zax are two of the only times I can ever remember getting treated decent by a cop.

This Gathering experience was 100% better than my first. Not only because of the company I was with, but because it was the difference in being just a fan and being an artist. If you had told me at that first Gathering I went to that three years later I'd be there performing as a solo artist, I'd have slapped you. When you accomplish things that very recently seemed impossible, it's important that you acknowledge it.

Submitted: September 09, 2021

© Copyright 2022 Clay Conner. All rights reserved.

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