VIVA POMONA 7/14/12- REVIEW- Words by Adler Bloom, Video Links courtesy of American Pancake Live, Pics Courtesy of Tiff at Shows, Instagram Pics courtesy of YOU
Tijuana Panthers, La Sera, GrassWidow, The Urinals, The Babies, So Many Wizards, Cosmonauts, The Lovely Bad Things, Pangea, Black Elephant, Business Cats, Old Man Jenkins, Adapt, They As in Them, The Ugly Kids, Suede Parade (Surprise Guest)
WTF? A week has gone by and I am finally writing about the rad music festival known as VIVA Pomona put on with a lot of love by Rene Contreras (Switch) and his cohorts Ricardo Sanchez, Salvador Moreno, Pedro Garcia and Tony Hoang. Situated in the downtown art district of Pomona, California at Second Street, VIVA boasted 16 bands at 3 venues, the legendary Glasshouse, Aladdin Jr and Joey BBQ (all for only $12.00). Apart from all the outrageously awesome music, in the courtyard directly across from the Glasshouse there were a ton of vendors selling arty stuff and some good eats. I got there at 5:30 eager to jump into the fray even though exiting the confines of my air-conditioned car made me instantly sweat. It was hot and humid that day and almost every band I got to see commented on the sweltering heat. I hit So Many Wizards at the Glasshouse (GH) first and Nima Kazerouni was dressed accordingly wearing a beachy shirt and board shorts. Even their most mellow song is attacked with intensity. Really loved what I heard. Old Man Jenkins at Aladdin Jr (AJr) was throwing down some cool punk / art rock and I want to see more of them. Brooklyn bred, The Babies (GH) got the crowd dancing. I thoroughly love their music and the guy / girl lead vocals and lead guitar work (provided by Kevin Morby and Cassie Ramone) help to fuel the great songwriting. Business Cats (AJr) cranked out 3 piece garage rock. If you have not seen them- GO SEE THEM. Veronica's voice has a perfect "I don't give a fuck" punk attitude with husky undertone that can suddenly explode. Something about her vocals reminds me of early Chrissy Hynde, in fact "12 Years Wasted" with the run away bass line and vocal yelps could be an early, early Pretenders song.
There was quite a buzz about The Urinals playing VIVA and the fairly good sized crowd packed in tight at the Glasshouse. I got a sense that many in the crowd may of heard Urinals covers by bands like The Gun Club, No Age and the Butthole Surfers more than the Urinals themselves. In any event, the crowd while a little tepid at first warmed up quickly. Back at Aladdin Jr- Black Elephant was stirring things up playing some of their new stuff that they have been releasing in demo fashion. This was the first time I had seen them after Karin's departure. Thomas Lucero (from Dash Jacket) sat in on the drums. Not sure, if he will be a permanent fixture (?) all I know is they sounded awesome and got the room dancing. Grasswidow's breezy set (GH) full of lush harmonies and sparkly guitar rhythms made the heat a bit more manageable.
Speaking of heat. The Aladdin Jr room is a brick building with probably only 500 square feet of space to pack bodies into. You take an already hot humind day and stuff a bunch of people in there like sardines (moshing, dancing, crowd surfing sardines mind you) and the temperature can get a wee bit toasty. This is exactly what occurred when Pangea took to the stage. The room turned into a giant sweat box, my sweat was sweating. They started off with a grungy psychedelic tinged song that kicked ass. More people filtered in from outside and by the time they played "Living Dummy" it was a moshy madhouse soaring the temp further and making the windows fog up. Rene Contreras and a helper provided much need relief by pelting the audience with water and passing water bottles to the kids, many of whom had already removed their shirts to cool down. Later in the evening, Phil from Tijuana Panthers talked up Pangea and remarked about the conditions in the room saying "that was too hot for my old body." Obviously, Phil is not old but there was a clear difference between the controlled (almost mellow) feel of the Glasshouse shows and the musical bedlam that was taking place at Aladdin Jr. Once you stepped into that smaller brick house oven you had to be a die hard music fan to stay there. Those kind of shows attract me like a moth to a flame but I had to tear myself away and check out La Sera (GH).
Katy Goodwin seemed especially glowing as La Sera took the stage. I met her for the first time about 2 years ago and she has a serene presence. She is tall, has a cool vibe and seems to be a sweetheart of a person. Amidst hoots and screams of "Katy!" and "La Sera!" her band didn't disappoint. La Sera's trippy cool songs felt refreshing. The heavy bass and churning surfy / spaghetti western guitar on Behind Your Eyes was one of the highlights. Back at Aladdin Jr Pangea's part punk rock / part water park show left guitars and the stage drenched with water. Stuff was being reorganized on stage for The Lovely Bad Things. Monitors were pulled from the front to the sides to make it safer for those who were being either pushed into the stage or were inclined to dive off of it. The die hards packed in tight once again as The Lovely Bad Things opened up with Icee Creeps and the crowd took advantage of the cleared space for stage diving. During their set, more people packed in and bodies seem to fly off of and over the stage from all angles. It was a kick to hear Big Sur (off of their 2010 Cassette Sharkweek) which has been absent from their set for awhile. After the guitar intro to I Just Want You to Go Away, the crowd sang the first verse in unison and chimed in on the chorus as well. It was a crazy kind of love festy show were the audience giving back as much as The Lovely Bad Things put out. After their set, I stepped out into the still warm Pomona air and it felt like a splash of ice water.
When I made it to the Glasshouse the Tijuana Panthers party was already in full swing and they packed the house. Tijuana Panthers fans LOVE them and they all seemed to be in attendance. It looked to me like Dan had a flower sticking out of his ass cheeks. I am not lying. I hope there were no thorns on the stem. Tijuana Panthers have such a stable of good songs and they seemed to play most of them. Dan eluded to a "Special Guest" coming up after them and while my thoughts races as to who that might be, it was only a matter of time and one of the organizers asked me to hang and shoot them and shoot I did. As Tijuana Panther's set ended, they handed off the stage to The Vivian Girls, Cassie Ramone (The Babies), Katy Goodwin (La Sera) and drummer Ali Koehler. The audience went nuts. Katy took the mic, " HEY Pomona! We're the Vivian Girls! Thanks for sticking around!" and after a bit of guitar feedback tore into a great performance of Tell The World. It was fun to see Cassie and Katy huddle close to the drum kit between songs so they could figure out what song they would do next. During one song, a kid got on stage. As the security tried to box him in he jumped into the crowd. NOT stage diving but jumping feet first. To make matters worse, this kid caught some major air. It was a scarey moment hoping he wouldn't land on anyone. Ali Koehler, much to her credit, called the guy out saying, "Is that girl OK that you jumped on? That's not how you crowd surf you dip shit!" (Katy chimes in, "Is everyone ok?) then Fiona continues, "I hope you said sorry cuz that was Fucked UP." I could literally hear that kids dick shrivel up. It was a totally bonehead maneuver and I applaud Ali for speaking up. The audience screamed song titles and they flew into The End. I can't remember all the songs they played but it was such an awesome show! Kudos to Rene Contreras for making it happen. I think everyone was kinda floatin on air after that performance. I know I was so I floated my ass down to Aladdin Jr for one last time as the Cosmonauts (whose set time) was about to hit the stage at 11PM. They cranked out their wall of sound that seemed to stick to the still humid AJr atmosphere. I think at this point, that room had it's own sweat induced Eco-system! I was able to only record one song as the disc in my cam was pegged out.
Some final thoughts and acknowledgments.
My sincerest apologies to the bands that played at Joe's BBQ. I kind of got in this groove of running back and forth between the controlled chaos of the Glasshouse and the uncontrolled chaos of Aladdin Jr and somehow lost sight of They As In Them, The Ugly Kids and Suede Parade. I hope to catch them in the future.
The shows that Rene puts on pairing the Glasshouse with Aladdin Jr are special. One thing I really love is being able to exit the venue and come back in, also love the ton of free parking and the atmosphere downtown. These shows are generally low cost and it is fun to re-group with friends you have met at previous shows. I love that. Also, great decision on the Glasshouse's part on getting rid of that prison cell look on the upstairs balcony. It is open and styling now.
Also- Kudos to the band New Folks that set up a van and jammed right out in the street. They were awesome!
Also, want to give a shout out to Tiffuny Luong, a great photographer and fellow blogger who was gracious enough to let me use some of her pics. Check them all out here VIVA POMONA Tiffatshows
AND it was nice to see Kylie from Sincerely California (very cool music blog)
AND- Jessie another great photographer and cool dude.
And- the girl who goes by the name of Lisa. This is all I can say as she may be in witness protection.
AND- it was so great to meet Natalie who was shooting video (I believer for KLLYRTV). That girl is hardcore and has a creative spirit.
AND - finally I leave you with this quote (in between songs) by Cam from the Lovely Bad Things:
"It is fucking HOT in Pomona! It's a good thing. Sweat is good. Everyone has to give Rene a big hug and a kiss for this tonight. It's been awesome."
So Many Wizards
Cassie Ramone (Vivian Girls)
Katy Goodman (La Sera / Vivian Girls)