Metal Invictus Promoter Angie Gabriel Keeps the Metal Scene Fresh
Lingering cigarette smoke from the upstairs balcony fogs the midsize open floors packed with shaggy, sweat-stained concertgoers at the Airliner bar. Located off North Broadway in Lincoln Heights in Los Angeles, the club offers a dark, packed crevice of underground culture with a low cover charge and multiple music acts throughout the week.
Photo provided by Adrian Mejia (Photo from Left to right): Metal Invictus crew: Cesar Escobar, Angie Gabriel, Adrian Mejia, Jimmy Armenta)
On many weekends, the Airliner transforms into a communal hub for local metalheads. Backyard and basement bands from the greater Los Angeles and Orange County areas are given the opportunity to migrate to a proper stage and venue with the help of an events-promotion company called Metal Invictus.
Founded in 2011 by Angie Gabriel and Jim Armenta, both musicians themselves, Metal Invictus' philosophy is to help the area metal scene and promote unsigned bands in lieu of the common pay-to-play rules set by other venues across the city. Instead of being forced to sell $200 to $500 worth of tickets to play first at venues such as the Whisky, bands booked at the Airliner through Metal Invictus play for free. Gabriel says bands still have the basic requirements to promote themselves as well as the show through Facebook, fliers and photos.
"I'm really strict with bands publicizing and making sure they have the drive to sell themselves as much as I want to sell them," Gabriel says with an authoritative laugh before sipping a cocktail at Blind Pig in Rancho Santa Margarita. "Bands need to be out there handing out fliers after concerts."
Talk of the metal weekend nights has been spreading to areas other than Los Angeles; Gabriel says Metal Invictus has been adding more northern California bands and a cluster of Orange County groups whose fans have followed them to the Airliner--among them Lake Forest's Madrost, Rancho Santa Margarita's Infinite Death, Fullerton's Nihilitus, Anaheim's Gravehill, Santa Ana's Sacred Ruins, Lake Forest's Xanthochroid and Costa Mesa's Lords of Ruin.
"Metal Invictus furthers the exposure that an OC band like ours can gain from the shows it puts on," says Tanner Poppitt, lead guitarist and vocalist for Madrost. "It's not every day that a promoter comes along who wants to not just help out LA or OC bands, but also help to build a scene that will gain momentum. Angie is one of the most important aspects the scene needs."
For Gabriel, the love from the OC metal scene is mutual. "The professionalism and talent that is coming out of the OC bands right now is carnal and unparalleled," she says. "The presence of OC is apparent in the LA metal community."
After three years of successful metal shows, the promotions company is celebrating a landmark 50th production featuring Dr. Know, Night Demon, Hellbender, Madrost and Brilliant Machine on Sept. 6, with the support of the Razor KXRZ radio station and a fellow events company called Church of the 8th Day. Tickets run relatively cheap at $10 a pop and come with an 18-and-older general-admission policy.
Although Metal Invictus has expanded in team members and successful show dates over the years, its start-up years were filled with the stress of competing with similar concert-planning companies. Gabriel juggled a rigorous 12-hour event-planning day job and mom duties, all while paving her own path in the male-dominated metal industry.
"I've overcome the challenge with a lot of bands that don't want to book with me because I'm female," Gabriel says, adding, "This is my personal opinion, although nobody would ever admit that.