If you happen to live in the west coast and are older than 30, you may have heard of a classic metal festival that used to take place in Los Angeles, CA called Murderfest. The festival started back in 2003 with subsequent editions throughout 2009 which could’ve been compared to the more known Maryland Deathfest, boasting bands like Obituary, Brutal Truth, Atheist, Napalm Death and many others.
After disappearing from the scene for the past 7 years, the festival is gearing up to come back but it has an uphill battle before we can get it back in full. We asked longtime promoter and festival organizer Daniel Dismal to tell us more about Murderfest and how it got to be what it was:
The thing is, the Murderfest started as something very simple. My band, CREMATORIUM was booked to play a show at the Hully Gully. The promoter and I decided to work together on the line up as a previous show he had booked for us didn’t pan out that well due to various reasons. I was already booking shows at this point so I was willing to get on board to make the best show possible, for both of us. Since the club had two stages I decided we’d just book a bunch of bands and market it as a “fest”. Since CREMATORIUM had adopted the moniker “Murdercore” I decided to call the event the Murderfest. I went ahead and booked bands that’s spanned a larger spectrum of genres since CREMATORIUM was a band that played with almost any style of band. Hence, the fest was born.
Fast forward a few years… I had put together a festival called the “Labor Day Metal Massacre”, which was larger than the original Murderfest and though it was a financial loss for me, I decided at that point that Los Angeles needed a fest. Something to call our own and since I was already booking at the Knitting Factory in Hollywood, I took a chance and relaunched the Murderfest idea. At the time I couldn’t call it the “Second Annual Murderfest” because too much time had passed. I looked towards the tech field, saw that they labelled things as versions because each subsequent version was an “upgrade” from the last. That birthed the usage of “versions” instead of labeling the fest as something annual and attaching a number to it. I also thought version made it so I didn’t have to keep the fest annually because who knew what would happen with the relaunch at the time.
Within the time between the original Murderfest and version 2.0 though, there was a fest coined the “Texas Murderfest” so I faced another choice. Not wanting my version to be associated with the Texas fest, so I decided to call the event the “Los Angeles Murderfest” with the labeling of “version 2.0”. I booked 3 days at the Knit, booked a ton of bands and went to work on establishing my dream of a fest in L.A..
The fest was amazing, some bands that went on to become huge households names were part of the fest. Stylistically we crossed all genres between Death Metal, Metalcore, Hardcore, Black Metal and what would become known as Deathcore. Unfortunately though, I risked a lot financially and my first relaunch lost me upwards of $14,000.
Did I accept defeat though? No. Anything worth it is worth a fight. I immediately started on version 3.0 and from there, each year was subsequently more stacked and the line-ups were honestly larger than what the venue could hold. One of the reasons why the fest was so amazing was the venue though, don’t get it wrong, the Murderfest was amazing because the bands were all playing in a venue that was intimate to what they were accustomed to. Each band could have easily headlined their own show at the venue but the idea was simple… pay to see a bunch of awesome bands, for the price of seeing just one of their headlining shows in Hollywood.
We went on, full speed ahead until version 5.0. We didn’t know that was the last fest but with the closing of the Knitting Factory we lost our home. The place that helped make the fest what it was. From 2009 we were faced with trying to find a venue within Los Angeles. This has been a stark wasteland for us.
I don’t do the fest for money, nor fame, nor marketing value. I do the fest because I believe in the Los Angeles scene and the power of the fans out here. I always have them in mind, I don’t want them treated like second class people. We are first class, we live, breath and bleed for our music and I want a venue that will work with us, for the right reasons. Yes, money is to be made but money WILL NOT be made at the expense of the fans, our patrons, our friends.
Come to play Complex in Glendale. A small bar that used to be the Scene, which I used to book with “back in the day”. The owners of Complex built a venue they could be proud of, something to serve the scene and not milk it. Once I became involved with booking Metal shows there it became apparent, I found a new home for my shows. Throughout the last almost 3 years we’ve brought shows to Complex that are insanely larger than what the venue can hold but the spirit of the scene is alive there and that’s when it hit me. Why wait for a venue to pop up, let’s take the fest back to it’s roots, let’s take it back to the streets in a sense. Let’s do a smaller version and let’s do it for the sake of the scene.
With the Mini-Murder that’s what I am doing. I am bringing something back that’s been lacking out here. A fest. I am not discounting any other fest in the L.A. area, if you know me, I support all shows and events. I am simply talking about the fest that’s based around my ethics and my thought patterns. The Dismal style of doing things. Yes, I am working with a larger venue in Los Angeles to help relaunch the big fest but I also didn’t want to wait any longer. Every year passes and every year the fest is pushed back. No more.
The spirit of the Murderfest is back, the beast will be back. We’re shooting for 2017 and when it happens, we will decimate Los Angeles yet again but until then, the Mini-Murder is here. The fest for everyone. The fans. The bands. Everyone.
This is your moment L.A., time to become one with us once again.
You can get tickets for the Mini-Murder here.