We clowned around.
We got our Mardi Gras on.
We received the royal treatment from some Queens.
Here’s how it all went down at three very different shows last week:
Whoop! Whoop!-ing it up
Bleeding from the forehead, Homeless Jimmy has seen better Saturdays.
Though he’s just been rocked in the kisser by a water bottle hurled at close range, that’s the least of his troubles: This burly hulk with a face full of scar tissue is about to get side-Russian-legsweeped into a shopping cart laden with long florescent light tubes.
“Holy (synonym for excrement)!” Holy (synonym for excrement)!” the delighted crowd chants as Jimmy gets turned into a human porcupine, glass shards for quills.
Assorted dudes in hoodies hoist their similarly-attired ladies in the air so that they can get a better view of the bleeding.
“You can’t stop Chuey Martinez!” the announcer bellows, saluting the victorious wrestler, who climbs atop the ropes and flexes inside the ring at the Fremont Country Club on Saturday. “You can’t stop Juggalos!”
Welcome to Juggalo Weekend 2018.
About those Juggalos, they’re a much maligned lot, aren’t they?
Clad in the-gnarlier-the-better clown make-up, some of them sporting spiked green hockey masks and evil mime get-ups on this night, continually bellowing their trademark shout of approval (“Whoop! Whoop!”), they’re dismissed by music snobs and generally disliked by authority figures.
The FBI even classified them as a “hybrid gang” a few years back, a designation that thousands of them protested en masse with a march on Washington last September.
And so what was Vegas in store for when this bloody, two-day bash began overtaking a portion of downtown last Friday?
Intermittent Faygo showers.
The weekend was a hit: After selling out the Fremont Country Club in advance, an outdoor stage was added, creating a mini-festival vibe with 80 percent of the crowd coming from out of town, according to one of the event organizers.
A friendly, we’re-in-this-together atmosphere hung in the air along with the scent of cheap rootbeer, sprayed liberally by the evening’s main attraction, the Insane Clown Posse, who took to the stage with dozens and dozens of two-liter bottles of the stuff, some savvier Juggalos sporting rain ponchos to shield themselves from the stickiness to come.
A fierce mosh pit erupted as soon as ICP began their set just before midnight — it was less violent than exuberant, though, a bunch of self-acknowledged misfits reveling in their outsider status together, elbow to jaw.
“We keep it nutty and bloody for everybody here,” Shaggy 2 Dope, one-half of ICP, rhymed during “Walk into The Darkness.” “I’m going to hell / And I’m knowing it well.”
He won’t be going alone.
“Fam-i-ly! Fam-il-y!,” chanted the act that prefaced ICP, New York City horrorcore vets The Flatlinerz. “Just be yourself,” they then instructed.
This was the place to comfortably do just that.
Earlier in the night, as Homeless Jimmy got stitched up in an ambulance parked outside, a couple of police officers patrolling the show came into the room where the match was staged.
They chuckled bemusedly at all the debris left on the floor.
Blood, stitches, broken furniture, laughs. You know, Juggalo Weekend.
Fat Tuesday, fatter jams
Of course someone smuggled in a bubble-blowing apparatus.
It suited the vibe: festive, free-spirited, both mood and music floating on air like the aforementioned globules.
“I know we’re in Las Vegas, but we’re gonna pretend we’re in a very small club in New Orleans tonight,” explained keyboardist Nigel Hall of Boston-born funk troupe Lettuce, who soundtracked Fat Tuesday at Brooklyn Bowl last week with grooves as fluid as all the sweat beading upon their brows as they played.
Lettuce’s liquid-y jams have a way of sneaking up on you: Deliberately paced at first, they’ll drift on by in a haze of wafting horns, lithe basslines and tendrils of wah-wah guitar.
Just when you’re about to fully succumb to these trance-like rhythms — bam! — trumpet and sax roar, guitars needle and those bass lines — meted out by a dude nicknamed Jesus (or Lil’ Baby Jesus, if you’re not into the whole brevity thing) — become decidedly more physical — like, downright bullying at times.
The sensation is something along the lines of being willingly hypnotized, and then thwacked upside the head by the dude swinging the pocket watch that put you in such a state.
Lettuce worked themselves into such a lather on Tuesday, that even the lady hawking T-shirts was getting down behind the merch booth, flanked by hordes of revellers doing the same in masquerade masks and jester hats.
Happy Mardi Gras!
Now pass the Tylenol.
Queens of the Stone Age; kings of Friday night
It was a jailbreak from restraint, composure, moderation and other Friday night fun-ruiners, feet and hips emancipated first.
“Me and my gang come to bust you loose,” Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme sang, playing the role of valiant liberator of the id at The Chelsea at Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. “We move with an urgency.”
The song was “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now,” a funk thunderclap that comes at you like a boulder tearing down a cliff, making it an apt tone-setter for the the band’s latest record, “Villains,” which it opens.
The tune begins with a little background info on the man giving it drawling, dramatic voice.
“I was born in the desert, May 17 in ’73,” Homme sang. “When the needle hit the groove / I commence to moving / I was chasing what’s calling me.”
All these years later, Homme remains in hot pursuit of as much in song.
The QOTSA catalog is alternately lustful and reflective, savage and seductive, contemplative and combative, much like Homme himself.
One minute he’s dropping f-bombs on a fan who flipped him the bird; the next, he’s breaking up a fight mid-song. “Take a breath, just be cool. I love you,” he told the warring factions in an attempt to broker peace so that the boogieing could continue.
Tempers soothed, the band dove back into the convulsive psychedelia of “You Can’t Quit Me Baby,” taken from the band’s self-titled first record, released 20 years ago.
In the decades since, QOTSA has leavened the guitar density of that album with everything from glam to punk, as the band’s performance at the sold-out Chelsea underscored. Slinky soul come-ons (“Make It Wit Chu”) rubbed shoulders with songs of near-metal heft (“Misfit Love”); pensive torch songs (“Villains of Circumstance”) blazed alongside cowbell-abetted rockers (“Little Sister”).
During a seismic “Monster in Your Parasol,” the crowd bounced along with such vehemence that the venue’s floating general admission floor shook like the ground next to a jetliner poised for takeoff.
The capacity crowd was warned.
“Here we come,” Homme announced on “The Evil Has Landed.” “Get outta the way-ay-ay-ay.”