Books: Nathan Rabin on Phish and Insane Clown Posse, Erin Feinberg on Diehards
Nathan Rabin You Don’t Know Me But You Don’t Like Me: Phish, Insane Clown Posse, and My Misadventures with Two of Music's Most Maligned Tribes (SCRIBNER)
Erin Feinberg Diehards (ANTHROPY ARTS)
The nature of music fandom rises to the fore in recent books by Erin Feinberg and Nathan Rabin. Feinberg’s introduction to Diehards, a collection of her photos from the past two decades, relates how she blew off her high school prom for a Bruce Springsteen show, accompanied by a bed sheet that read “Bruuuce No Surrender 4 Class '93.” (It’s the first image that appears in the book.) Springsteen reciprocates by contributing a preface on the nature of fandom which praises “those faces jammed up to the front of the stage, smiling, singing, living every note of your song, their song, taking every breath with you.” Feinberg captures these very visages both mid-concert and during the pre-game, exhibiting the ecstasy and the agony of it all. (Mostly the former, although in some cases, both, as in the unfettered exaltation of a woman held in the arms of security after surfing her way to the stage.)
Nathan Rabin’s You Don’t Know Me But You Don’t Like Me presents a more complicated portrait of fan fealty. In this work, Rabin, the former head writer for the A.V. Club and author of My Year of Flops, an engaging reassessment of critically-panned films, takes to the road with two oft critically-panned bands, Phish and Insane Clown Posse. As the title suggests, Rabin is well aware that both groups have their fair share of detractors, including himself
at first, explaining that “as a college kid I came to see Phish as the band whose music you were casually forced to listen to in exchange for a free bowl of pot,” while ICP has long been “a pop-culture punching bag for the cynical, smart-ass likes of me.” However, over the course of the book, which opens during Phish’s 2009 New Year’s Eve run in Miami, both groups, somewhat improbably, win his allegiance. Relix readers likely will be familiar with Rabin’s experiences at Phish shows, and some may find his characterizations off-putting at times, as they slip into hyperbole (often for humorous effect) and reinforce some stereotypes when it comes to drug intake. By contrast, his window into the world of Insane Clown Posse and their annual Gathering of the Juggalos is a riveting one—face paint, Faygo and all. Ultimately, cynicism gives way to sweetness, as the book concludes with an altogether decent proposal that occurs at a Phish show.