For the second time in years, I didn’t have hundreds or thousands of photos to go through following an event. And since I am unable to provide visual evidence of the festivities, I decided to write a review about Big Ballas 2018. Scottie D and I elected to do something different this time. We spent most of weekend together with our group – so we decided to write side-by-side reviews. Enjoy!
I started getting hyped up for Big Ballas this year when I had a conversation with Vinnie “The ICP Kid” a couple months ago. I really didn’t find out any details until the flyer came out, but by the way he was talking, I knew this event was going to be something for the ages. The last Ballas I went to was in 2015, before they started moving them out of Detroit.
The flyer drops and daaaaaamn!! That shit sounded fresh as hell. Obviously, I was disappointed that there were no cameras allowed (for most), but I survived the Carnival of Carnage show without one, so I knew it could be done. Acoustic set, whaaaat!?? Warehouse!?? YESSSS!! At this point in time, there was one date scheduled – Saturday December 22. Tickets sold out within hours of going on sale.
The next step is making arrangements with the squad. So the usual suspects and I start chatting it up. Scottie & Amanda and Jimmy. I assume everyone has already read Scottie’s review, and these people do not need introductions. Then a second date was announced – which was actually before the “first” show. Some people ended up a little salty over that, but Psychopathic assured us all that everything would be allocated such that people attending Saturday would not get the bone for buying tickets first. And from what I saw, they did exactly that – with the exception of the CD singles (and maybe they ran out both nights, I don’t know).
As the weekend drew closer, I started having anxiety about not having a camera to hide behind. We got the email from Dean a week or two before the show that had details of where to park, what to do and not to do, and some details about the event. On the document, it was written that disposable cameras would be available for purchase. Although not ideal, it calmed me down somewhat.
Amanda found this super cute Air BnB in Novi that ended up working perfectly for the four of us. Scottie & Manderz flew in from TX and Jimmy flew in from Boston – and somehow landed at the Detroit airport at almost the exact same time on Friday. That worked out well for me, as I picked them all up. After entering Michigan, when I was about an hour away from the Air BnB, I called the host and ended up talking to her for like 10 minutes. She was fantastic. I arrived at this adorable house about 5-10 minutes from Psychopathic, just as the Ds & Jimmy were landing. I got the key, did half a walk-through and threw some stuff inside before heading back the way I came to go scoop the homies.
The Detroit airport on the Friday before Christmas was a mess. Jimmy flew Delta, which was at one terminal, and of course the Donihoos flew Southwest which was at the other terminal on the other side of the airport. After being yelled at by airport security, who were trying to direct traffic, I pulled up and got Jimmy first. To get to the other terminal where the Ds came in, I had to get back on the highway and basically go around the airport and come back to arrivals on the other side. This time at least Jimmy could message them to let them know to look for us. Swooped in, popped the trunk, they got in the car and we got out of there with the quickness. It was about a half hour back to the house. So we chatted about our travels and made fun of each other and all the normal stuff.
We arrived at the house and finally got to say our real hellos. I hadn’t seen my Manderz since Juggalo Weekend in Vegas in February! She got the biggest hug ever! We unloaded the car and grabbed our spots. We had the entire downstairs of a house that was built into a hill – the host lives upstairs but has a separate entrance and parking area. There was a bedroom with a bathroom that Scottie and Amanda got, and a living area with 2 other beds (one on each side of the room) separated by couches and furniture, and another bathroom. I took the bed by the bathroom because I’m a girl and left Jimmy with the other one by the door. We had a kitchen too, which came in handy – because apparently Scottie eats like 3lb of bacon per day or some shit.
Once we got settled, it was time to grub! We found a bar with food options for all that was close and headed out there. The boys got wings that were supposed to be “stupid hot”, and Amanda and I got salads. BIG salads. I think the guys were disappointed, however, I thoroughly enjoyed my rabbit food. We hung out there for a while and talked, then when we left, it was snowing. It felt pretty baller to walk outside and be right on the water.
From there we went to Walmart. Scottie kept talking about getting bacon and I thought he was kidding. Nope. He was very serious. We also got eggs and cheese. Jimmy needed deodorant, I wanted to get some energy drinks, and I threw some veggie bacon and Rock N Rye in the cart.
When we got back to the house and put everything away, we could finally catch up. Scottie & I set up our laptops on the kitchen table like nerds, and the 4 of us talked for a long time. I had previously thought about printing a stack of photos for the karma room, but had not acted on it. With a little encouragement from my roomies, I decided that I would send a handful of photos to Walmart and have them printed one-hour, so we could bring them with us the next day. Well a handful turned into over 100. I went back through several years of photos. All photos of Juggalos. I ended up picking a ton of from The Juggalo March, shows, Gatherings, DCGCons, etc. I could not stop. So I ended up being awake until 7 or 8am before finally falling asleep. I wouldn’t be a real friend if I didn’t insert a sentence about how Jimmy snores. I brought earplugs.
I woke up a couple hours later to the smell of bacon. Amanda was already dressed and looking cute, as usual. After breakfast I got ready while the others went and grabbed my pictures from Walmart. They definitely gave me shit for how many I printed. Like I said, I couldn’t stop. Shortly after that, Big Zane arrived and we began finalizing our lunch plans. The Yachties had already decided on a steak house. Everyone was very respectful though, and made sure there was something on the menu I would eat. I actually had a few vegetarian options!
We head out to Black Rock in Novi. I believe there were 13 of us total. Manderz had made these awesome JYC ornaments that she passed out that everyone loved. Graciously, she sat across from me and got chili. Everyone else got steak, and at this restaurant, they bring it out raw-ish on a hot stone and you cook it yourself. So I didn’t have to look straight at that. Apparently Amanda’s chili wasn’t very good. I got a veggie burger that was surprisingly good. It had fried pickles on it! And I had coleslaw instead of fries, which was also good. We tried taking some group selfie shots, but even with Zane’s big-ass reach, we couldn’t get all of us in one picture. So the waitress took one for us.
The time was nearing to start Ballin, so we went back to the house and changed (we smelled like a steakhouse where you cook your own meat). I think it was right then that the reality hit me that I was going camera-less. Since I didn’t have a bunch of stuff to carry, I elected not to wear pants. My Faygoluvers jersey is big enough that it covers my butt if I wear leggings. I have these green ones that are super cute and match perfectly. Everyone was cute and ready. So off we go!
The drive was not far to the parking lot where the shuttles were picking people off. Scottie drove my car and we parked next to Zane’s truck. Within a few minutes we were greeted and on the shuttle on the way to Psychopathic! The excitement and anticipation were building! We step out of the shuttle, and there wasn’t really a line to get in. They were doing good about getting people in quickly. I have goosebumps writing this – stepping in the door of “ICP’s House” – there’s just this feeling that rushes over you. There are no words to describe it. I have been there before, for photo shoots, but it has been a while. When I walked through the door (they were using a back entrance), I was engulfed by this radiating cloud of love. Like being hugged by everyone there at once.
The first person I see after being let in was Rachel Paul, donning a light-up butterfly necklace and a huge smile, checking people in and giving out the charms and CDs. Now we could start looking around. Facing the door we came in was a wall of merch. I never got a really good look at everything. I’m short and can’t stay in one place that long. I just wanted to get my disposable cameras as soon as possible, which were being sold with everything else. The merch line was more like a crowd, and from what I could tell, there were only 2 or 3 guys working. Scottie’s review has much more information about the merch.
When I looked to my left, I could see a bay with a projector screen and about 200 folding chairs set up facing it. There were a few ninjas sitting in the chairs screening the old home movies that I still haven’t seen. There were Christmas lights and garland everywhere. Such a magical atmosphere. To the right of the merch area, there was a staircase leading upstairs.
Zane decided the JYC was going to crash The Juggalo Show that Rudy, Carlito, and Kegan were doing live. I tagged along. I know a picture I took is hanging up on the wall in the radio room, but I have never seen it. When we got up there, they were live with some Juggalos on the radio show and there were plenty of spectators. When they left, Zane and Scottie were invited to sit down and were able to drop some knowledge on Rudy about the “Family” movie coming out. Somehow Kegan took the conversation straight to porn…Leave it to Kegan. I couldn’t stop looking around. Amanda and I took seats behind Scottie. Looking to the right is a huge print of a photo I took at Gathering 17. Goosebumps. Again. After they went to a break on the show, I went up and touched it the print and gave the guys hugs. It was so hot in there. And it was killing me that I couldn’t take pictures.
After leaving the radio room, I wandered some more. The decorations looked amazing. Beautifully-decorated Christmas trees, lights and garland everywhere, charging the Juggalos’ Christmas spirit. It definitely felt magical. I walked by Rob’s office and he had a line of people wanting to talk to him, so I just waved and went back downstairs to meet up with the crew at merch. While the squad was huddled in front of the counter, I did get to watch a few minutes of one of the home movies and it was HILARIOUS. Gotta try to sit and watch them sometime. Between the Donihoos and me, we got 10 disposable cameras. Scottie bought like one of everything so he went back to the car and Manderz and I went and took pictures. We went up to the prop room and took pictures of ninjas checking out all the props. Can I just say – Damn! The first thing I noticed was the organization of the room!!
Now that I had a camera in my hand, I felt better. I went back downstairs. I made my way into the Karma Room, where Joanna was wearing this Santa dress (I’m sure she has a hundred selfies) taking pictures of ninjas in front of this Big Ballas backdrop. They had a DSLR set up on a tripod. Weird for her to have a camera and me not to, haha! Gave that bitch a hug and grabbed her butt, and since I was there, she put me to work. I took some pictures of her and we talked some. Another familiar face there was Will, and he was beaming – adding extra karma to the event. Everyone showed him mad love. He suggested we get a picture of Jimmy in the Hatchetman pose matching the Hatchetman on the backdrop. You’ll see when those pictures come out. It was perfect. While in the Karma Room, I was asked to sign a guitar that was to be a gift for the Clowns. I put a Cherry Bomb sticker in the perfect spot on the back.
I never got to see HooDoo recording, but I have been to The Lotus Pod while recording was going on before. I did want to see my pictures in there, but it seems like it stayed pretty packed. Nobody had phones or anything, so we couldn’t really keep track of what time it was and all of a sudden everyone started making their way to the stage. Must be show time. I was only like 1.5 cameras into my 5 disposables! Note to self: there should have been one person selling only cameras.
I head toward the stage but I wasn’t really feeling sitting down for an ICP show. Even acoustic, I felt like I had to stand. Plus, I wanted to run around and take pictures. Jimmy and the Ds got seats near the front. As I walked up to the area where the chairs were set up, I see the guitar I “signed” earlier being passed around to everyone in front of the stage. The goal was to have everyone there sign it. I wonder if that was accomplished. I hope Dustin or someone got a picture of it at the end of the night too. I won’t know if I did until I get my prints back.
The stage had 2 very large gold chairs that were like thrones. Baller AF. While facing the stage, Shaggy was on the left, and Violent J was on the right. DJ Carlito was spinning behind them, along with Razor Ray and a guitarist for Uncle Kracker, and Rude Boy doing backup vocals. The Clowns introduced themselves, and right away it was obvious they were comfortable there. After all, this was “Christmas at Their House”.
I don’t remember all the discussions and antics, but Scottie covered those quite thoroughly in his review. I do remember the feeling though. Looking around at everyone and seeing the excitement of so many Juggalos seeing Psychopathic for the first time. Being a part of a once-in-a-lifetime experience, surrounded by my favorite people. I stood centered behind the last row of chairs and took a few pictures of the crowd from there. I stayed there for a few songs and laughed at the stories and jokes about anuses etc. Then I made my way to the back of the crowd where I wanted to be. A major part of being a photographer is observation. Since I wasn’t taking real photos, I was so happy standing there with babe and watching. Watching the show, and everyone reacting, enjoying the company, thinking “is this real life?”
As ICP concluded the set with “If I Was A Serial Killer”, CD singles were handed out to most people in attendance, then people left their seats and headed toward the door. This was another time I was glad I was near the back, so I wasn’t packed into a crowd. The excitement was off the chart. Everyone had huge smiles on their faces. I used up most of one disposable camera taking pictures of the happy Juggs as they departed. Since my homies I came with were sitting near the front, they were some of the last to leave. Remember they were letting people go a few at a time to get on the shuttles back to their cars.
We ended up being the last group on the last shuttle back to the parking lot. My trunk was already full of merch. We piled in and Scottie drove us to The Token Lounge for the after party. When we arrived, there was a JCW match in progress. Since we were among the last to leave the warehouse, it was well into the after party when we arrived. As the wrestling ring was torn down, I people-watched for a while and floated, until Lyte prepared to perform. I brought my camera and took some pictures that I will release with this article. We streamed his performance on Faygoluvers Heaven Facebook page for your viewing pleasure.
The Token has a 2am curfew. They aren’t shy about it either. After Lyte got off stage, we mingled a bit then got kicked the fuck out. That’s when Scottie started looking for meat again. The squad piled back into my car for a late dinner at Ram’s Horn. We were all exhausted, but wanted to make the most of the time we get to spend together. By this time, we only had like 7 or 8 hours before we were supposed to check out of the BNB, so Amanda asked the host if we could check out late. Jimmy had to be at the airport in the early afternoon, but this would buy us a few extra hours of sleep and packing.
Sunday came way too fast, and we knew we had to start preparing to leave. After checking out, we dropped Jimmy off at the airport. We had been invited to do some play testing on a game that some Juggalos created. I woke up with a migraine and couldn’t really concentrate, but Scottie played while Manderz & I hogged the recliners. The time was drawing nearer to their flight leaving, so we had to say some more goodbyes and head that way. So I was back at the Detroit airport again, this time I was leaving solo. I think this time was slightly easier because I knew I would be seeing Amanda and everyone again in February for Juggalo Weekend!! I went almost a year without seeing this bitch and I never intend to do that again. I’ll come to Texas, damnit!
I got home safely and dropped off my disposable cameras at Walmart to be sent out for developing. When I went to pick them up over a week later, they had not even been sent out yet!! I summoned a manager (“summon the manage ninja” -Scottie D) and ended up getting them developed for free. So props to Walmart for making it right. I edited the usable ones a little and we are posting them with this review, along with pictures from my cell phone and photos I took at the after party.
Thanks for reading! See you all in NOLA!! Much love from Cherry Bomb!!
Combined Photo Gallery: