Full Circle with The Flaming Lips: 2012 In Review

Flaming Lips at LouFest. Photo by Khoolod Eid.
Flaming Lips at LouFest. Photo by Khoolod Eid.

Full Circle with The Flaming Lips: 2012 In Review
By Jaime Lees
Thu., Dec. 20 2012 at 11:54 AM

Editor’s Note: The end of 2012 is upon us (also the end of the world, if you believe in that sort of thing), so we thought we’d put a cap on things by sharing some of our personal favorite shows, albums, events and general shenanigans. Join us as we indulge in some navel-gazing!

When I write articles for RFT Music, I’m not just reporting on music happenings — I’m writing about my life. One day my priorities might change, but for now what matters the most to me is music. Maybe that’s wrong or unhealthy or something, but it’s true, and luckily most of my favorite music moments of 2012 have been documented in some way on these pages.

I’m lucky in that I have a lot of freedom in this space. It’s curated not only by people who give a crap, but by people who value what I have to offer. After seven years of writing for this publication, I’m still grateful and excited for the opportunity. I absolutely adore my job here at RFT Music. My life is my work and my work is my life, and I’m honored to share it with you.

That said, here was my life in 2012:

I rang in the New Year in Oklahoma City. My sweet old dog, Ruby, had just passed and I was in the middle of some serious grief. I ran away for the weekend to hang out with old friends and see two shows with the Flaming Lips and my spirit animal, Yoko Ono. At the stroke of midnight, I was tipsy on pink lemonade moonshine, bathed in kisses and standing inside a massive sonic blast fortified by a fog of rainbow confetti, flashing lights, jumping lasers, hundreds of bright balloons and the twinkling reflections off of a giant disco ball. The Lips played Beatles covers with Yoko and Sean Lennon and Nels Cline; it was absolute bliss and served as a strong reminder of the healing power of live music.

Flaming Lips and Yoko Ono - JAIMEVILLE.COM

I’ve been saved again and again by amazing music — most of it local. I’m a huge fan of so many of our local bands. Many people wait years for their favorite bands to tour, but for me, my favorite bands play all the time. As an extra treat, I get the opportunity to write about these St. Louis music makers: Lion’s Daughter, Prince Ea, Jimmy Griffin, Jans Project, Demonlover, Roland Johnson, Fred Friction, Nelly and the list goes on and on. I know that a lot of what I write reads as love letters to St. Louis, but I just can’t help myself — St. Louis just makes it too easy. Stop being so awesome and I’ll stop writing about you. Until then, the locals have my heart. (Extra double shout-out to people that I’m proud to call my friends, the hard-working folks at Big Muddy Records, Tower Groove Records and the Rats & People Motion Picture Orchestra.)

I’m not sure why, but this year I felt particularly productive. I was given space to write about music-minded locals who inspire me creatively (Dana Smith), about St. Louis music history (STL 2000) and I got to hype the touring bands that I was the most excited about (Future of the Left, R. Ring). I’m still not quite over the fact that I actually get paid to get drunk and watch Guided by Voices, to eat pizza and listen to Taylor Swift, to try to convince readers that Heart is badass, to watch classic bands like Kiss and Mötley Crüe, to review Madonna from the second row, to jump into the world of Juggalos, to get Sinead O’Connor‘s take on St. Louis (and Chuck Berry) and to praise my personal heroes like Bonnie Raitt and Henry Rollins. If you can find a girl that is luckier than me, I’d sure like to meet her.

Under the advice of my very favorite punk rock couple, I attended a show with a band I’d never heard before: I saw Useless Eaters at CBGB and it was the best damn show I saw all year. These kinds of happy accidents only occur when you actually listen to the suggestions of others, so try keep some cooler-than-you friends around.

And though I was stoked on the lineup this year at our big summer festival, LouFest, I had originally declined to do any LouFest coverage. I wanted a weekend of fun, without having to spend all night writing reviews. But there was a last-minute rescheduling and Kiernan came and found me right before Dinosaur Jr played. He needed someone to write about Dino’s set. I said sure, knowing that it would actually be easy– on some level I’d been prepared to review a Dino show for at least half of my life. Kiernan hunted down an empty beer box for me to write on and then he went back out into the crowd, off on his next mission. I found a pen, ducked under a friend’s umbrella and wrote my notes out on the cardboard. Improvising ain’t just for musicians, you know, and the Dino review turned out to be one of my favorite things that I wrote all year.

The second night of LouFest, I again found myself at the emotional mercy of the Flaming Lips live show, but this time as a participant. I danced onstage with some of my favorite people, and I absolutely rocked that slutty Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz costume, if I do say so myself. It was one of the best days of my life and it’s far too personal to write about here, but trust me, it was a good time and I felt absolutely smothered in love.

Since then my life and routines have gotten back on schedule, and this fall has been one great event after the last, and with the upcoming holiday season is bringing tons of shows that I’m excited about– I predict that I won’t get much sleep through the end of the year.

As for the future, who knows? I’m excited about the new crop of weirdness on the South Side. Magic City, Black James, Syna So Pro, Demonlover, Bug Chaser and Horsey Drawers have my interest right now, but nobody can predict what insanity will come in 2013. I, for one, can’t wait. Bring on the New Year. I’ll be lurking in the many venues, festivals, dark basements, loud practice spaces and fancy recording studios around town. See you at the barricades.

link: Riverfront Times

Juggalobook.com: Social Networking for Wicked Clowns

Juggalobook.com: Social Networking for Wicked Clowns
By Jaime Lees
Wed., Mar. 7 2012 at 6:08 AM

It was only a matter of time. Insane Clown Posse fans have their own language, style of dress, food / drink, tattoos, rituals and culture — why wouldn’t they have their own Facebook?

Fans of ICP call themselves “Juggalos” (or “Juggalettes” for the ladies) and they have now been supplied with their own social network, Juggalobook. We poked around on Juggalobook for a few hours. And then we pondered the very existence of the Juggalo. Here’s what we thought:

The design and style on Juggalobook is very similar to Facebook, it’s just suckier. Over the course of a couple of frustrating hours, we found that everything on there is just a little bit wonky. The pages take forever to load and the advertisements are both obnoxious and omnipresent. Still, it’s a design that is easy to navigate, especially if one is already familiar with Facebook. And, of course, access to ICP merchandise is always only a few clicks away. (The money-making geniuses sell every kind of merch possible, and it’s all way expensive.)

The direct rips of Facebook were everywhere, but they were all Juggalo’d. For example, instead of clicking “like” on a picture or a post, one clicks “Whoop whoop!” instead. (FYI: “Whoop whoop!” is Juggalo-speak for “yay” or “holla.”) And “add friend” is “add homie,” etc.

The move to launch Juggalobook seems a little late for a group that has always had such a strong Internet presence. Juggalos consider each other family, even if they have never met in person. Frequently ICP fans will “meet” online long before they meet in person at a concert or the Gathering of the Juggalos. (Yes, they have their own yearly festival. Terrifying pictures of it are here.)

As far as American subcultures go, there are few that are more fascinating and easily observable than the Juggalos. Though the FBI has recently classified Juggalos as a gang, most outsiders just see them as disaffected, fat, possibly scary white trash. It is clearly a group for those who identify as outsiders.

There’s actually something kind of sweet there in the way that these (usually) twenty-somethings find and support each other. ICP fans come together from all over the country and get together just to have a good time. That’s not to say that I don’t find their habits to be a little scary- binge drinking, heavy drugs and a misogynistic atmosphere are a given in Juggalo culture, but there is a sort-of all-for-one camaraderie amongst the crew. (And, for what it’s worth, some friends and I went to the ICP show last summer at Pop’s as a goof — pretty much just to make fun of Juggalos — and all of the people that we met that day were super friendly and eager to pass their flask or their joint to us to try to make us feel included in their good times. We went to the show to be jerks and we left feeling like jerks.)

Of course, there are bad apples. These are the ones that I’m scared of running into, and these are the ones that are the most entertaining on Juggalobook. There are dudes who just get way too into it. Going into Juggalo territory is not like entering another country, it’s like landing on another planet. Juggalobook is an extension of this other invented life. Most of the people have their faces painted in a way that completely obscures all facial social cues. Someone in full face paint could be happy or angry and it might be hard to tell how they are feeling. But, hey, you’d encourage painting your face, too, if you looked like Ed Rooney. In keeping with ICP tradition- one uses one’s Juggalo name as a screen name. The screen names are spelled in Juggalo-style and frequently include the words “twizted,” “wykyd,” and “gurl.”

I think the most interesting thing about Juggalo subculture is Juggalettes. How they behave and how they are treated is unique to the group. First of all, rarely does a Juggalette meet average American beauty standards. Stretch marks, C-sections scars, lumpy thighs and saggy tits are the normal in ICP land, not the exception. And these women are seen as pieces of meat. They are frequently groped, put on display and encouraged to engage in public sex acts by their male counterparts. And most of them seem to volunteer for this treatment. It’s interesting because these are women who would never, ever be considered sex objects by conventional standards. With a Juggalette, it doesn’t matter that she’s obese or that her hair is terrible, in this culture even the most busted female can be considered attractive, as long as she is DTF. It’s fascinating and this phenomenon should be something that future anthropologists study in graduate school. (I’m looking at you, Webster University.)

What do you think of Juggalos and Juggalobook? It’s easy to sign up and one is instantly rewarded with shenanigans from a foreign culture. Remember how much fun we all had making fun of the “Miracles” video? (Nearly 10 million views!) You can have that much fun on Juggalobook, but watch out for AdultJuggalos.net. It’s NSFW for life.

MCL, y’all.