October 22, 2019
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In Loving Memory of Spence: The Aaron Spencer Benefit Show (3/15/14)

Rockstar in Dayton, Ohio

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“I just want to again say THANK YOU, to all the fans and supporters of this benefit concert for my son. It was my first ICP concert, actually to see all those bands. Loved it all…I KNOW Aaron was up there watching us, spraying Faygo down on us and having a great time. All the outpouring of love and family was so touching. It was very emotional for me…but in a good way, a lot of tears, and thoughts of my boy. He would’ve been so proud of me going to the show. I love you, son.”

—Cathy Spencer aka “Momma Lo”

Whaddup doe, my beloved Luvers of Faygo? It’s the lady J-Rach here, my dears. What’s good?

You know, it’s not every day that Faygoluvers Heaven has the opportunity to inspire a performance from one of our favorite bands. But, for us, it goes way deeper than that…

It’s not every day that Faygoluvers has the chance to make an impact and offer support to a grieving family. A mother. A sister. A fiancée. Stepdaughters. A father. A brother. Friends. And still…

It’s not every day that we get to create a space to celebrate a LIFE. A soul. In loyalty, friendship, and solidarity.

Fortunately for us Dark Carnie clowns and gypsies alike, we have “Juggalo powers” to help us with such tasks. And, really, there is no “magic” or great and all-powerful Oz in the mix. Behind the curtain, and perhaps behind the paint, it is small things and humble people with genuine care that make us strong. It is the power of LOVE (or, as I like to say, “FaygoLuv”) from which we all can draw our greatest strength and the ability to create an impact. In celebration, we achieve this goal through art, through song, through dance, costumes, revelry, and music.

And, so, the Aaron Spencer Benefit Show was held on March 15th in Dayton, Ohio.

One Juggalette traveled from Texas to mourn and celebrate her fallen friend, a longtime Gathering camping buddy. A grieving father traveled all the way from Colorado to partake in what became somewhat of a St. Patty’s Day “Irish wake”: A celebration in the face of death and tragedy—a carnival bringing lightness to the dark.

As for me? I traveled from Philadelphia to ask a simple question, given that my fellow Faygoluvers and I had a hidden hand in honoring this life cut short, this soul, this energy. I asked, “Who is Aaron Spencer?”

And throughout the course of the evening, my question was embraced and answered by countless beautiful people and faces, as I swept across the room asking, “Who? …Who? …Who?” Like a little owl. Wanting knowledge. That wisdom. That understanding. It was all very fitting. As it turns out, owls are Aaron’s favorite animal. His totem. His collectable. Yes, Aaron loved owls. And the women who love Aaron (his mother, his sister, his fiancée) loved him so much that they adorned their skin with owl tattoos in his honor—their first and only tattoos. Aaron himself had only one tattoo (ironically given by the same artist)—A hatchetman. Over his heart. Because Aaron, or Spence as he was known in the Juggalo world, loved the Juggalos, truly. With a full heart.

And that, my friends, is why we celebrated on 3/15 at “Rock Star” arena, no less. It became very apparent throughout the course of my interviews that Spence really was like a rock star—too wild to grow old and too beautiful to EVER die. His memory will be cherished by many, for his kindness, for his heart, and for his spirit. This is what I found throughout the course of the evening.

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Juggalos on the front line, representing the fallen

In a moving speech early in the night, it was Jumpsteady who pointed out that Spence didn’t reach for material things or “that fat paycheck or college diploma” on his death bed. None of that mattered in the end. Instead, it was the people who loved him—and loved him deeply—that really became a testament to who Spence was as a person. Spence loved his friends. He had a great impact on people.

kingspeech

Hands in the sky for Spence

Spence was also a clown. His longtime friend Jason was the first person I spoke to over the course of the evening, who told me about Spence’s antics at the Gathering. One year, Spence’s tent was short a few poles, but he set it up anyway. And it was BUNK. By day two, it was nothing but a pile of canvas on the ground. And Spence just took it upon himself to sleep there anyway, with the pile of fabric on top of him. “Fuck it.” You don’t need nothing fancy. Go ‘head.

Spence was an originator, too. He got his hands on a Riddlebox tape back in the day and was down ever since. “It was different back then,” Jason said. “We didn’t have the internet or anything, so you only found out ICP info by word of mouth or if you happened to see a flyer or whatever.” In a way, with his O.G. Riddlebox tape in hand, Spence was like the original social network. He helped build the scene from the ground up, by word of mouth alone. Jason reminisced on his early Juggalo antics with Spence back in the 90s, and after a few minutes of our conversation, he was rushed by four beautiful women wearing owls on their blouses and owl jewelry: “WE’RE JASON’S WIVES!” they joyfully shouted, giving big hugs and laughing. Ahh, the Juggalo world. Where nerdies like Jason (takes one to know one) become worthy of beautiful ladies and get to live like rock stars.

The “four wives” laughed and told stories of Spence stealing their shots anytime they went out. “We’d pay the bartender, turn around for a second and—slurp!—All four of our drinks were gone, with Spence standing there laughing in our faces…‘Deal with it!’” That was Spence’s catch phrase. Just deal with it, bro. Life was too short to be taken seriously.

And, according to the “wives” and pretty much everyone I met over the course of the evening, Spence was always the first person to “start a pit” or dance. He raised the energy anywhere he went.

Linn, Spence’s best friend who also shared his birthday, spoke about how Spence would be the first one to jump in the car and go: “If I was headed out to an ICP show or wherever, I knew he was always the one who was down to ride. I could depend on it.”

Spence was the life of the party. And he looked out for others in the process. At an event, he was the first one to give away his ticket, even to a perfect stranger, if it was needed. A random Juggalo in the crowd told me about how Spence gave him an extra ticket so he wouldn’t get kicked out of the Gathering. This act of kindness came on the first day they ever even met. Spence was always the one to make sure everybody got into a show and had a good time. After hearing this, I took a second look at my VIP pass (given to me by Cathy, Spence’s mom) and knew what I had to do. I went outside only to find two Juggalos who drove a long distance with no tickets, waiting by the door. I let them in, on the condition that they donate their every last dime (a total of “$6—no, wait, $7!”) to Spence’s family, at the merch table. One of the random Juggalos did a back flip for me and showed me a cool (but gross) scar. I’d like to think Spence appreciated that quite a bit. He was very giving.

In addition, Spence, like most Juggalos, was a collector. His fiancée Carmen told me about how he collected “oriental figurines” and, of course, owls. He had a preoccupation with the number 18. And a lot of his collections were based around that number, for some reason. (Fun fact, in numerology 18 = 1+8 = 9, the number of perfection, wholeness, and completion…so maybe he was always just searching for that perfect collection ;)

Spence also loved games and Angry Birds. Aren’t all Juggalos just kids at heart?

And speaking of kids, Spence was also a stepfather and grandfather whose adopted daughters were in attendance. They were tearful. And so sweet. “I remember when him and my Mom got serious,” the young lady reminisced. “I had my guard up and I told him, ‘Well DON’T expect me to call you my Dad!’ But it wasn’t long before I started calling him ‘Dad’ anyway—Papa Spence. That was my name for him. I loved him so much.” On her wedding day, Spence’s stepdaughter asked him what it felt like to be a grandfather and father of the bride. His response? “I love you, kid…but I need a cigarette. Excuse me.” She laughed.

And, so, that’s what I discovered over the course of my interviews: Spence was a rock star, a beloved friend and family member, a clown, an originator, the life of the party, an adventurer, a giver, a collector, a kid at heart, a father, and a grandfather. His fiancée loved him. His friends loved him.

family

Phil, Linn, Cathy, Jason, and Michelle: Spence’s Juggalo family

But I asked myself, “Was that it?” No. There had to be more to the story here. I knew there was. There was a larger lesson to be learned in all of this—a larger reason why so much love had been poured out for this one fallen Juggalo in particular.

And, to find this, I needed to look no further than Cathy, Spence’s Mom.

Cathy loved Spence and his friends: “I remember just like yesterday, him and his friends in the yard, all painted up and ready to go to a concert.” To Spence’s crew, she was “Momma-Lo” or “Momma Spence.”

I stood by Cathy’s side as Jumpsteady took the stage early in the evening to say a few words about Spence. We listened. And I said to her: “Nobody gives a speech like Rob. This is true. But why don’t YOU get up there? I think the Juggalos would love to hear from you.” And she stood there silent for a moment, wide-eyed but inspired. “Maybe…maybe I should!”

And then…she did. With two dozen of her family and friends by her side. Right before ICP’s set. And when she spoke on that stage, surrounded by her loved ones, there were cheers, “family” chants, “Spence” chants, and not a dry eye in the house. Here’s what she had to say:

“The love that I feel in this room is amazing. I see so many of you walking around in shirts that Aaron used to have, and I look and I think it’s him. And I know he is here with us tonight.”

Yes, Momma. Keep doing those double takes. It is not a trick of the eye. Because we are ALL Aaron Spencer. Having transcended this life, his energy now permeates all our hearts.

“Tonight, Aaron Spencer is on the stage!” Violent J decreed during ICP’s chaotic set. The show had no barricade. And throughout ICP’s entire performance, there were Juggalos on stage, spraying Faygo essentially nonstop. Incredible showmanship and MCing aside (because, for real, that performance took “singing in the shower” to a whole new level), this was the great message of the evening: The power of unity. The power of love. Oneness. Life without borders or barricades, where the stage and the crowd become one and the same. This is the power of Aaron’s spirit. To bridge any disconnect. To dispel any negativity thrown at Juggalos from the outside world. To make us stronger from the inside out. And to unite us in celebration.

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A band of brothers

So keep doing those double takes, Momma: “Spence was one of us.” And he was all of us. One for all, and all for one.

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Carmine, Michelle, Rob, and Cathy: Spence’s Juggalo family (part 2)

(Special thanks go out to Spence’s family and friends for taking the time to share their stories. Thanks go out to Psychopathic Records for joining them in an outpouring of Faygo…and luv. And thanks to Aaron Spencer for his joyful and loving spirit, reminding us to always “Deal with it, bro!”)

Rachel Paul is the author and illustrator of the Dark Carnival Tarot Cards and the unofficial Faygoluvers graphics grrrl. She bounces back and forth between Philly and Dayton and loves owls, Angry Birds, and Candy Apple Faygo. Visit her at facebook.com/darkcarnivaltarot or etsy.com/shop/darkcarnivaltarot

All photos courtesy of JB Photos (www.joshbryantmedia.com)

Location:

  • Rockstar
  • Ohio
  • United States

Guests:

  • Big Hoodoo, Menace 2 Sobriety, From Silence To Violence

Record Label:

  • Psychopathic Records

Websites:

Reviewer:

  • Rachel Paul

Review Date:

  • 03/15/2014

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    Faygoluvers Comments

  1. MaSiN1713

    MaSiN1713

    Comment posted on Monday, March 24th, 2014 05:56 pm GMT -5 at 5:56 pm

    What was the set list for the show?

  2. wow a chick

    wow a chick

    Comment posted on Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 08:43 am GMT -5 at 8:43 am

    Sorry MaSiN–Was too busy dancing on stage and getting stupid doused in Root Beer to jot that down. Maybe next time, if I can find a Faygo-proof steno pad. But hey! They opened with Chicken Huntin and lots of Riddlebox–Spence’s favorite. Off the chain!

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