Never mind the past breathless media reports of craziness at the annual Gathering of Juggalos festival, which started officially this past Wednesday night. Local guys MAYDAY! hit the stage there late Saturday night/early Sunday morning, and unlike other first-time performers, they're not scared of a little Faygo-spraying. In fact, they say, they welcome the juggalos' unique shows of appreciation.
"We've had the pleasure of being able to rock out for them for two tours already," says MC and multi-instrumentalist Bernbiz, of the juggalo factions present during the band's last two tours with Tech N9ne. "From my experience, juggalos have always been honest people. IF they like you or they don't, you'll know right off the bat. Then when they are into your shit, the way they show love is in a rowdy or aggressive way -- you can't take that as a negative, in my opinion. They make it more crunk."
The mutual love between MAYDAY! and the much-maligned Insane Clown Posse diehards may come as a surprise to the group's local fans in South Florida, where the juggalo scene is virtually nonexistent.
Much of the link comes down to Tech N9ne, a mentor to the group and the owner of its label, Strange Music. Hailing from Kansas City, Tech is one of the few underground rappers to cast a wide fan net, impressing everyone from backpack-rapper to horrorcore heads. "He's been able to make huge strides in that world," says Bernbiz, "and then the fact that he co-signed us already gave us a great fighting chance when we started."
Juggalos, too, connect with MAYDAY! and its refusal to fit into any easy molds, Bernbiz says. "MAYDAY! is weird, and I feel like juggalos walk on the outskirts of society, so the fact that we're so different, and the fact that we have an aggressive approach to music, those are all things they can relate to," he says.
After the past two trial-by-fire national tours with Tech, the guys of MAYDAY! also say they've learned to roll with the unexpected twists of playing for a large festival crowd. "You've got to just go out there and adapt to what's going on," says Wrekonize, one of the group's MCs. "We have our 45-minute set, but you can't just do everything to the T. You have to adapt things to go with the crowd. When the crowd's rough, you've gotta get rough."
"You kind of just have to keep your foot on their neck. You can't give them in an inch to slide back," adds Bernbiz. "It's about the aggressiveness and the energy you put forth, If it's a tougher crowd, you just have to hit a little harder."
They may well have to pull out the big performance guns at the Gathering. Their performance is scheduled for 3 a.m. Sunday, after a long Saturday of performances punctuated by an ICP headlining set. But the group's got a lot to celebrate, including their just-released new EP, Thrift Store Halos, which debuted on Tuesday at number three on iTunes' hip-hop charts, and in the top 20 overall of iTunes' independent albums.
"We just want to thank all the people who have been supporting us from the beginning," says Wrekonize. "It shows us that what we're doing is the right thing, right now. So everybody who got us to the Gathering and bought the EP, and is part of the MAYDAY! army, we love you all, and thank you so much for taking this ride with us!"