Autumnal music festival Death to the Sun, named as such to commemorate the end of the summer sun, has been an annual event for the past three years, varying in venue but never changing its formula: it has always been a showcase of over twenty Tri-County area bands (and some out-of-towners), entirely for free. As Guerrero explains, “I make no money off the shows that I throw. I always turn all profits, if any, toward the artists, or to throwing more free parties … It just wouldn’t have the same energy if it were for profit.” The event’s gained a bit of notoriety as a result; noise legend Rat Bastard even notes that while Death to the Sun’s free admission “will always get more people to show up to the event,” it’s also “free as in [free] music; it’s always great to see and hear new ideas.”
A thoughtfully curated and wonderfully weird playlist straight from the brain of local musician and promoter Ricardo Guerrero (This Heart Electric), the celebratory madness will be a little different this year. The date has moved from the end of summer to November 24, this time marking the near-end of the Mayan calendar (or what we’d discovered of until recently) as well as the end of the Death to the Sun festival forever.
Why would he do such a thing? In a now-infamous interview with the Miami New Times, Guerrero expressed great frustration with Miami venues, but ending Death to the Sun seems to have little to do with that. “It’s had a great run,” he says, “so I figure, why not retire it at its peak? That way it’ll just be a bold imprint in our collective memory, not some faded and drawn-out thing that becomes a parody of itself.” It’s also about personal growth for Guerrero, an idea removed from any sort of music scene entirely. “Maybe it’s time for others to take the torch and run with it,” he explains. “I feel it’s time for me to move on. I’m leaving my horizon completely clear and letting the weather guide me. The end of this festival marks that moment for me, so in a sense, this final festival is bringing forth my personal New Age.”
Makes sense — prior to Guerrero’s desire to end the event for good, the date change had a more spiritual connotation: the aforementioned closing of the Mayan calendar. “This year we will celebrate the end of an entire age!” says Guerrero. “The end of the Mayan calendar corresponds to the beginning of a new age, a golden age of thought and global consciousness, not the end of the world at all. The very word Apocalypse actually translates into ‘unveiling’ … This will be an opportunity to make the world what we want it to be, to make our world — our lives — exactly what they should be.”
Even the earlier Death to the Suns had a heart-minded ideology: “I envisioned this party in an archaic frame of mind, as something universal that involved anyone who wanted to be there, something that celebrated something as ancient and beautiful as the end of season.” That’s why the formula has worked for so long — it’s universal. “I could have applied this to any number of places or people, and the spirit would have remained the same,” affirms Guerrero. And whatever negativity he may have previously or momentarily directed at his home base, not the featured bands nor Guerrero himself can deny that Miami was Death to the Sun’s biggest muse. Says Nico Toussaint, whose band Las Tias is playing the event, “Florida’s scene is what gives my life a meaning while I’m here.” Guerrero agrees, and in celebrating the end of Death to the Sun, perhaps it is an unconscious well-wishing to the city. “Miami happens to have a vast pool of talent, which makes it easy to pull this kind of thing off on this scale,” he says. “I put my mind, body, heart, and soul into it. I do it out of love, and I love my city.”
Death to the Sun IV: The Final Episode. With Fourier, This Heart Electric, Dino Felipe, Manny Mangos, Whorish Boorish, The Jellyfish Brothers, GG Mozart, Xela Zaid, Las Tias, Mothersky, Eyelash, Chrome Dick, Dim Past, Suede Dudes, New Coke, Rat Bastard, and more. 6:66 p.m. (7:07 p.m.). Saturday, November 24, at Churchill’s, 5501 Northeast 2nd Ave., Miami. Free.