Rap and Faygo blend at concert

PEORIA — Gallons of soda was flying through the air at the Insane Clown Posse concert Sunday night, but little other mayhem occurred.

"I've never seen so much soda," said Peoria County State's Attorney Kevin Lyons, who was standing outside the Civic Center. "Hundreds of them. They grab them and puncture them and shake them up and spray them in the crowd."

No arrests were made and no fights occurred Sunday, Police Chief John Stenson said. On Saturday, through, at least seven people were arrested as police used pepper spray to disburse a group between 400 and 500 ICP fans who had surrounded officers.

In an attempt to prevent vandalism, Civic Center staff carted away metal picnic tables and chairs outside the facility.

"Other than it being a posse, they appear to be appropriately named," Lyons said. "So far, so good."

Earlier Sunday the Juggalos — the ICP fans — and the police were out in force, but no one, except Civic Center officials, was predicting a peaceful end to the evening.

Police in riot gear gathered at Jefferson Avenue and Fulton Street, sitting in lawn chairs while they waited. There was a county bus to hold prisoners, and the fire department moved two extra fire trucks to Central House to handle anticipated injuries. The American Red Cross brought water.

"I'd say the majority of the kids are just here to have a good time and enjoy the music, but 5 or 10 percent want to do something more than that," said Lt. Charles Hurt, the head of the police Special Response Team. "We're a react team. If something happens that the officers can't handle, we'll go in and react."

Outside the Civic Center, Ross Perin, 15, of Columbus, Ohio, said he and others expected to rush the stage.

"It's going to take them days to clean up this place and this town," Perin said. "What can they expect? With the money we brought to this town they can't complain. If they jusrt let us come in and do what we wanted and leave, everything would go a lot easier."

Andy Gossett, 21, of Covington, Ky., predicted mayhem at area hotels, too.

"As soon as this is over, everybody is going to mob all the hotels," Gossett said.

Traditionally, the band invites fans up on stage with them at the end of their shows, as Faygo soda is sprayed everywhere.

At last year's Gathering in Toledo, though, fans rushed the stage early, bringing the concert to an early hault and ultimately leading to dozens of arrests and thousands of dollars in damage. Some Juggalos were unhappy this weekend about a ticket policy that would only allow a third of the fans onto the floor of the arena. Civic Center management said Sunday afternoon that they'd stop the show if fans rushed the stage. That wasn't necessary, no one rushed the stage.

The riot Saturday afternoon began after police arrested Allison Jung, 20, of Forrest Park, Ohio, who was baring her breasts. Her boyfriend intervened, and ICP fans trapped officers who had arrested the pair in the Civic Center's business office.

Police who went to help them were spit on, pelted with coins and batteries and doused with water and soda. Authorities used pepper spray to disperse the crowd of 400 to 500. Police originally estimated that about 1,000 people had participated in the riot. At least seven people were arrested.

A handful of people were taken to area hospitals Saturday after having trouble breathing after being sprayed with pepper spray, and a 20-year-old man was taken to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center for a heroin overdose near City Hall.

"For the people who ruined it, I would like to apologize because that's not what this is about," said Jennifer Burton, 19, of Flint, Mich., on Sunday.

In a news release issued Sunday, Civic Center General Manager Debbie Ritschel said reports from area hotels "have been no different than fraternity and prom weekends."

In reaction to the Juggalos, some bars established "no face paint" policies. One exception was hoops Pub and Pizza on Main Street, where tavern regulars were largely displaced by the ICP fans, who gorged on pizza, signed each others' T-shirts and frequently broke into random chants of "ICP, ICP"."

Rapper Anybody Killa, who performed at the Civic Center Saturday night, showed up, signed autographs and, at one point, climbed onto a table for an impromptu rap session until employees got him to come down.

For the Juggalo community, Sunday's set by ICP had significance far beyond the fact that it was the last night of the Gathering.

The reasons have to do with the mythology the band has created for its fans. Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope claim — tongue in cheek, according to which Juggalos you listen to — that they're the clown-faced messengers of the spirits of a "Dark Carnival," who appeared to them years ago and commanded them to deliver six symbolic messages to the world in the form of "joker cards."

According to this mythology, when the sixth card is revealed, "the end will consume us all." It was at Sunday night's concert that the sixth card was scheduled to be revealed.

A couple hours before Sunday's concert, ICP gave about 3,000 Juggalos a preview of the sixth card at a "seminar" in the Civic Center exhibit hall. Violent J led the adoring crowd through a profanity-studded history of the band's dealings with various record companies, then introduced a giant image of the sixth card — "The Wraith" — with the remark, "I started smokin weed about a year ago . . ."

Wild cheers filled the hall, and a fan in the front row offered the clown-faced rapper what appeared to be a rather substantial marijuana cigarette. After a pause, Violent J took it, smoked from it — to more huge cheers — and passed it to Shaggy 2 Dope, several other rappers on stage and a video cameraman.

"I thought it was a cigar," Civic Center marketing director Marc Burnett said afterward.

Civic Center management also announced Sunday that local media would be barred from ICP's performance — reversing their earlier policy. Burnett said that decision came from the promoters. A Journal Star reporter was given permission to attend, however, though a photographer for the paper, wasn't.

Journal Star Assistant News Editor David Fischer contributed information to this story.