Death to the Sun 5 should benefit those with short attention spans. It's almost like a musical equivalent of speed-dating. Over the course of the ten-hour underground music festival at the North Beach Bandshell, 27 musical acts will hit the stage from noon to 10 p.m. The concert's organizer, Ricardo Guerrero, did the math for us. "Every act will get ten minutes to play, then there will be ten minutes to set up, and the next band will play. So every hour, you'll get to see three bands."
Guerrero birthed Death to the Sun in 2009. "I wanted an event that reminded me of those big summer festivals like Lollapalooza that I never had the time or money to see," he says. "I wanted this to be free so everyone can go to it and nobody is excluded." Over the years, Death to the Sun has been nomadic, held at sites across South Florida. The inaugural edition was held at Miami's now-defunct American Legion, and the second time was at the spot now occupied by Railroad Blues. The 2011 installment took a trip up the coast to West Palm, and Death to the Sun 4 in 2012 was held at Churchill's. Because of the countless hours of work that go into throwing a festival, Guerrero skipped a couple of years between 4 and 5. "There's a lot to running a festival, especially if you want it to be really tightly run," he says in a surprisingly laid-back manner for someone insisting he's stressed out. "You have to keep in touch with every band. You have to organize time slots. There's the stage managing – even with me dealing with only one stage this year. And, of course, someone has to make sure we have enough squirt guns and that they're filled with water."
Surfer Blood plays at the first ever Death to the Sun in 2009.
Photo by Ian Witlen
If squirt guns aren't enough to keep the masses cool, attendees will be pleased as punch to know this year's farewell-to-summer event is steps from the beach, so they can roam with ease from the stage to the ocean. But they shouldn't miss the acts that Guerrero is especially excited to present. "The Gun Hoes are garage-pop-punk-rock 'n' roll. Holly Hunt brings a crowd and will be going on when it's nice and dark. Devalued plays an eclectic palette of metal and are really great and high-energy when they play live. Dim Past plays electronic music and were important for me to get to play because a big factor of the festival is to bring out a variety of music."
Guerrero modestly doesn't mention his own music as a must-see. Playing for his allotted ten minutes under the stage name Rick Guerre, he'll be backed by a drummer, guitarist, and bassist to perform what he calls pop surf. "I've been told it's a surfier version of the Gun Club." He will also play drums for Dino Felipe, who in turn will man the drums for Guerre.
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Other acts slotted to take the stage include the sludge trio Bleeth, the kinetic Jellyfish Brothers, and the artsy punk-rock group Pocket of Lollipops. Folks looking to spend some cash will be happy to find food trucks, a temporary-tattoo tent, and clothes and wares for sale.
But as the date moves closer, like the sun melting into the horizon, and Guerrero finalizes the set list, he admits he's a bit stressed out. "I remember why I stopped doing it – with all the details," he says. "But at the end of the day, it's going to be satisfying. And when it's all over, I can get good and drunk."
Death to the Sun 5 With Bleeth, Holly Hunt, Dim Past, Jellyfish Brothers, and others. Noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, September 19, at the North Beach Bandshell, 7275 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-627-5202; northbeachbandshell.com. Admission is free. All ages.