Gathering 17 – Through The Eyes Of A First Timer
Entering the Gathering Of The Juggalos, if you’ve never done it before, can be fairly intimidating. Surrounded by people you’ve never met, having no idea where anything is, and wondering how you’re going to survive the week successfully were just a few of the thoughts running through my mind as I walked into Legend Valley. Despite all of the anxiety and possible doubts, however, I quickly learned that I was without a doubt at home.
One of the first things I did upon arrival was walk around the grounds, looking for possible interesting things going on. Of course, I was far from surprised when I did find multiple examples of true gathering living. I got to the Gathering on Tuesday, so parking lot parties were in full effect, even early in the day. Juggalos were as far as the eye could see, and I instantly found myself ecstatic to see what the rest of the week would bring. While I expected to see surprising things, however, I still didn’t expect to see the amount of pets that I did. In fact, the first animal I came across was a kitten, at least a few weeks old. I had to do a double take just to make sure I was actually seeing this tiny kitten, but nevertheless, the little white and grey was there and ready to gather.
Despite not getting much sleep the night before, I was more than ready to get the first official day of Gathering 17 started. I woke up much earlier than anticipated, grabbed my camera, and headed out to meet up with homies. Taking a look at the scheduled artists for that day, I instantly got pumped for a set from Kung Fu Vampire.
Over three years ago was the last time I had seen KFV live, so I couldn’t wait to see him tear up the stage again. Once he went up, I was far from disappointed. His entire performance was exceptionally live, so much so that even from the photo pit, I found myself rocking out to every song. I had forgotten how much energy this man puts into each and every performance, but I won’t soon forget how incredible this one was. Kung Fu sincerely brought the magic for Gathering 17.
Later that night, I was blessed to experience three Strange Music acts slaughter the stage. Ces Cru, Rittz, and Tech N9ne brought the house down from beginning to end. Starting with Ces, I just knew that Strange would make a lasting impression on this historical Gathering. Ubiquitous and Godemis took the stage with such infectious energy, which was hard for anyone to ignore, especially those in the crowd. Every time I would turn around, I saw juggalos getting super hyped for the rap duo in front of them.
Following Ces further into the night was White Jesus himself, Rittz. While I had many artists to look forward to, Rittz was easily within the top five. As a dedicated fan of his, it’d be easy to see why his performance left me mesmerized. Even with the Gathering now over, I still find it hard to believe that I was able to see this dedicated and versatile emcee live, and at the 17th annual Gathering, no less. Despite all of the shock, however, I still found myself incredibly hyped for Tech N9ne to take the stage only a couple hours later. The second I saw him walk out, I knew I was in for one hell of a performance. He and Krizz Kaliko brought everything they had to the stage, from beginning to end. This didn’t surprise me in the least considering all that I’ve heard about past performances. Nevertheless, I was more than impressed by the amount of energy poured into every song. Without a doubt, each Strange set instantly made their way into my list of top performances from Gathering 17.
Jumping into day two, anyone who attended this year’s Gathering can tell you that this day was one for the history books, even if it hadn’t been a GOTJ exclusive. The main stage was home to several great artists; Bukshot, Kissing Candice, Kottonmouth Kings, Anybody Killa, a mystery artist, GWAR, and the now infamous Wizard Of The Hood set. Among the acts to really blow my mind in terms of stage presence was GWAR. I knew going into it that I was in for one hell of a show, but nothing and no one could really prepare me for what I was about to experience. As a first time attendee of a GWAR set in general, their performance was interesting, to say the least. However, I mean this in the most positive way possible. From the energetic and monstrous lyrics to the killer theatrics, I can honestly say that I would watch a GWAR set as many times as possible after that. Even if it mean getting hit directly in the face with fake blood again.
Now this wouldn’t be a proper Gathering 17 look back if I didn’t include my thoughts on the Wizard Of The Hood Set. So the start off, let me just say that if you were not there yourself, you missed out on one of the greatest events in juggalo history. The costumes, set up, and general atmosphere of the WOTH performance left everyone in attendance feeling giddy and almost child-like. On stage was a living legacy, one that can never again be duplicated. Every second of it made it so that I couldn’t look away, no matter how much I may have tried. The smile on mine and every other juggalo’s face said more than words ever could. Violent J, Shaggy 2 Dope, Monoxide, Madrox, and Blaze Ya Dead Homie without a doubt killed the set, and I couldn’t be happier to say that I was there to witness it. Add to that, the encore of other collaborative favorites such as “Homies” and “Hound Dogs” that they performed following WOTH really set the bar for great juggalo history.
Day three brought a ton of fun events and super fresh performances, including the Juggalo Gong Show, sets from Blaze Ya Dead Homie and Twiztid, and artist signings with Insane Clown Posse, Lil Wyte, Twiztid, Blaze, Lex the Hex Master, The R.O.C., and JCW wrestlers.
The Gong Show was of the first events that I attended that day, and I must say that I now understand why it is one of the more popular Gathering happenings. Hosted by J-Webb and judged by Mad Man Pondo, Triple Six, and Rude Boy, the whole show was full of fun and hilarity. Even if the contestants weren’t exactly up to par with their talents, it was still amusing to watch and shoot.
Later that night, America’s favorite Deadman took to the main stage. As an undying (no pun intended) fan of Blaze, I was undoubtedly excited for his set, but trust me when I say that I was not expecting such a mind-blowing performance. Blaze always brings a ton of energy and passion to every one of his shows, and Gathering 17 was no different. When he brought out fellow emcees such as Kung Fu Vampire and Anybody Killa, I was instantly blown away. I had hoped that there would be some collaborative tracks performed, but I didn’t expect for there to be as many of them as there were. In the end, Blaze hands-down put on a performance that will always be in my top five.
Following Blaze later in the night, I was more than ready to experience a true Gathering set from Twiztid. I am never disappointed when the Demented Duo takes the stage, and I’ve always heard nothing but positive things about their GOTJ performances, so naturally I was incredibly excited to experience one for myself. When Madrox and Monoxide finally did go on, it was difficult for me to focus on anything other than watching two of my favorite emcees of all time absolutely slaughter the Big Top stage. Seeing how much energy and love they put into every second of their set gave me an instant feeling of happiness, just as it always does. Although, being in their presence at Gathering 17 only made this phenomenon that much more special and magical.
Finally, the last day of Gathering 17 was upon us. I spent much of the day preparing myself for what was going to be an absolutely epic set from Insane Clown Posse, so when the time came, I couldn’t wipe the huge smile off my face that I’d had almost all day. When Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope took to the greatest stage in the juggalo world, everything that may have been on my mind disappeared and all my focus was on the two emcees in front of me. The two men responsible for seventeen years worth of magic and unforgettable experiences were finally giving juggalos a performance more than worth waiting for, and it was far from a disappointment. They performed all the great juggalo hits such as “Chicken Huntin'”, “Hokus Pokus”, and “The Neden Game”, before ending the night perfectly with “Thy Unveiling”. Needless to say, Gathering 17 came to an end just right.
All in all, I could not have asked for a better first Gathering than this one. I had more fun than I’ve ever had in my life, made life-long homies, connected more with my fellow TJF staff, and walked away with an arsenal of long-lasting memories. Whoop Whoop!