You might want to take it easy on your first few trips to the pit. The eighth Gathering of the Sick Festival is going to be a long ride.
Over the course of three days, 30-plus bands will force-feed their metal mania to onlookers at the Compound. The venue’s owner and festival organizer, Joe Angel Hernandez, likes to see his beast grow, but he doesn’t want the ticket cost to swallow concertgoers. “I want to make it as big as possible and as large as any other fest in the country,” Hernandez explains. “But I want to keep it affordable so that kids can go see it without spending half their summer funds.”
Metal acts making the trip have styles that range from "extreme" to technically precise to blackly epic. When coming up with the band list, Hernandez listens to his loyal patrons. “I put my ear to the ground and hear who the kids want to see,” Hernandez says. “Then I try to get as many of those bands as I can to come play at my club.”
“I put my ear to the ground and hear who the kids want to see.”
Joe Angel Hernandez
Of the nearly three dozen bands that Gathering of the Sick has courted, Hernandez says he’s especially interested in catching a glimpse of two premier death metal outfits: Los Angeles’ Fallen Figure and Germany’s Defeated Sanity. Hernandez says both are engrossed in their genre’s history, but they've brought in musicians who thrive on dynamics. “Top-notch players have been missing in a lot of bands that could use them,” Hernandez says. “Now all of a sudden, groups are bringing them in and getting that new-school technicality in their sound.”
When your favorite band finishes its set, you won’t have to wait outside the tour bus for an autograph—just look in the audience. “It's not like the bands are hiding after they play,” Hernandez says. “They come into the crowd and check out the rest of the show. If you wanna meet ’em, you can pretty much go ahead and do it.”