Plain Jane in the membrane

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J and 2 Dope employ a vocal style that reminds you of an enraged and possibly psychopathic drunk arguing with a mailbox. The pair rapped along the edge of the stage from one end to the other as they alternated lines on songs like "Piggy Pie" ("This little piggy, his house was made of brick/and this little piggy was a motherfuckin' dick"), well-constructed but hollow songs that took the audience to the realm of "their money's worth" and no higher. There were moments, however, when things--the band, the crowd, the link between them--seemed about to jell. The building momentum behind the story of urban frustration in "How Many Times" ("How many times will you honk your horn and say 'Fuck you?'/Now what the fuck does that do?/You feel better now? You didn't let me pass?/How 'bout I stop my car and beat your fucking ass?") featured J standing alone beneath a single spot that made his makeup and toothy grimace the stuff of nightmares and his impending meltdown very real. "House of Horrors," creepily resonant with its "Comes from a thin man" chorus, also strained to take the crowd further. But finally it fell back into the any-beat'll-do anonymity of songs like the Christmas reprise of "Santa Claus is a Fat Bitch," a number memorable for the blunt profanity of its title and little else.

The distribution of Faygo, however, was a fascinating thing to watch. Faygo is a soft drink native to Detroit that sells for 60 cents per two-liter bottle--cheaper than that bright-blue windshield wiper detergent. To ICP and their everyman legions (called juggallos) Faygo is a universal solvent, and the band dispenses hundreds of gallons of the stuff at each appearance by throwing it on the crowd. At shows closer to the group's rust-belt home turf, the crowds bring even more Faygo themselves, but in Dallas--as with the face painting--a more casual attitude prevailed.

Still, the amount of multi-hued soda (J and 2 Dope avoid red because it stains) dispensed from the stage was a mighty thing. The two rappers--dreads flying--were almost constantly going back and forth between the edge of the stage and two large misshapen doors at stage right and left. The one looked like it could be a closet or armoire door; the other, a refrigerator. The doors opened to reveal vast stacks of Faygo, which the pair opened as they returned to the crowd. Violent J in particular had a unique way of putting the two-liter bottle under his arm--holding it fast against his body as he twisted the top off--that resulted in about half of the sticky liquid splashing on him. The rest would be thrown at the audience, usually followed by the bottle.

They worked constantly, like ants, darting back and forth. At times it complemented their rapping--the Faygo-droplets-and-rhythmic-strobe effect could be quite striking--but more often it was kind of distracting, like listening to someone who's trying to open a stubborn jar of peanut butter while they're talking to you. Both men were soon drenched and dripping with cheap, artificially colored sugar water. At first the Faygo they were hurling didn't seem to have any effect on the front rows and the moshers, but gradually the packed, bobbing bodies began to glisten.

That was when there was this glimmer of a moment--the way that the rappers affected the audience immediately, and how the crowd begged for more, both of them sensing it--that could have lifted the whole thing to that next level. That's where you might justify all the misogyny and violent imagery, where you could accept the deeper message that 2 Dope and J claim lies beneath the surface of what everybody else dismisses as dumbass party music. Unfortunately, the pre-recorded tracks the two were rapping over plowed on unheeding, and it was gone; things fell back into just-another-show. More Faygo was dispensed in ejaculatory pulses, whipped out in violent arcs, and propelled in gouts over the crowd. When the sound technicians suddenly covered their mixing board with a plastic sheet, even the people above the floor of the Bronco Bowl--previously out of range--perked up.

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Matt Weitz