Locally Grown: Mayday!
Somewhere around 3 am two Saturdays ago, Miami act Mayday! hit a strange but dramatic highlight of the band's career to date. Taking the stage in a field in remote Cave-in-Rock, Illinois, the group braved a notoriously tough crowd: the revelers at the Gathering of the Juggalos. The festival, centered around the long-running cult hip-hop act Insane Clown Posse, made national headlines last year when attendees pelted performers like Tila Tequila and Method Man with debris.
But, magically, they reserved no such hostility for Mayday!, who not only soothed, but lit up the crowd with its funky, aggressive, live hip-hop. It was there, in front of a field filled with thousands, that the group officially became the city's first to find favor with both Midwestern horrorcore fans and Miami clubbers.
But after a year of near-constant touring, much of it with legendary underground rapper Tech N9ne, to whose Strange Music label they're signed, nothing phases Mayday! "I'm not surprised anymore about Mayday! fans. With these tours, we've seen them all — young people, older people, everything in between," says Bernbiz, one of the group's vocalists and co-founders. "The Tech N9ne and Strange Music shows we did, it's all ages, everybody goes, it's a huge party, and it's super-successful in all kinds of venues."
Much of that is thanks to the group's fleshed-out, thick, party-ready sound. Bernbiz and fellow group co-founder Plex Luthor started the group as a fairly stripped-down effort in the mid-'00s, towing a more traditional hip-hop line but scoring a minor hit with their Cee-lo Green collaboration, "Groundhog Day."
It's been in the past few years that they've really found their unique style, though. In 2008 the group beefed up its lineup, adding more multi-instrumentalists and an additional MC/vocalist in the form of Wrekonize, an underground rap-battle star in his own right. Now as a six-piece, Mayday! specializes in a sound that boasts the heft of a rock band, the swagger of a rap supergroup, and the general left-field weirdness of underground experimentalists. Apocalyptic beats roll forth and weird sounds slip through the cracks of danceable rhythms and yell-along choruses.
The act's flexibility and potential broad appeal has made it a favorite on the live circuit, especially as the group has happily hit both major and minuscule markets from the Southeast to the Northwest. This Friday, August 31 marks the official Mayday! homecoming show at Grand Central, where they'll share the stage with Tech N9ne as well as friend and part-time Miami resident N.O.R.E.
The "homecoming" part, though, hardly means an extended rest time. Though local fans can expect to hear old live favorites on Friday, there's the possibility of a new track or two slipping into the mix. "We're already working," says Bernbiz. "We're working every day."
Mayday! With Tech N9ne, N.O.R.E. and others, Friday, August 31, 10 p.m. at Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave.