The first installment of the Growing Up is Dumb Fest--a three-day event--began in Pomona with two days at the secretive all-ages venue VLHS. With Steep prices for festival tickets like $100 for FYF or close to $400 for Coachella, the first Growing Up is Dumb Fest was started as a way to see a bunch of your favorite bands and not have to save up all year.
Growing Up is Dumb is a completely DIY run event and all proceeds go to the bands. That means that the $25 a ticket person for the three-day event isn't touched by any promoters, venues, roadies, or anything like that. It's not exactly a good business plan for anyone involved, but it's definitely a cool idea.
Walking up to the venue on day one, we ran into a table where the organizer of the event, Aaron Kovacs, handed us an envelope with two zines, a Growing Up Is Dumb compilation cassette, stickers, and a purple bracelet we weren't allowed to take off for the next three days.
As soon as we walked into the overcrowded warehouse, pitted in an industrial area of Pomona, the body heat and excitement people had saved up for the next three days was palpable (and in the case of the heat, slightly unbearable). VLHS is a special brand of DIY. The small venue isn't an extremist political or anarchist vibe like most really good DIY spaces. This space is almost like an "anything goes" dance party that has live bands, a beer stained floor, and always a couple crusty punks.
The show on day one started with Yorba Linda acoustic act Roman Candles, who are putting out an LP next month with the help of Plan-it-X Records. The band played a few tracks from the new album and also did a cover of 7 Seconds' "Young Til I Die" which fit perfectly with the theme of the fest.
The Second band to play was LA punks La Bella. The best part of the set was when singer Cam was shouting "No human being is illegal" repeatedly at the end of their song "Todo Para Todos." La Bella is one of the most innovative Hardcore acts we've seen, playing jazz samples while they tune between songs and incorporating Latin beats and scales into their music. Looking around the room a lot of people really seemed to be enjoying their set. Although not everyone knew who they were, people were piling in the room to see who was playing.
Next was Oakland screamo outfit No Tongue. I've been hearing a lot about them because they have some releases they are putting out this year on the KYEO SPEAKS label. When they came on stage the singer was wearing a cape. The only thing they said was "No Tongue, Oakland." It was coated in so much reverb it sounded like it was being yelled from the back of a cave. With only one release under their belts, the band played a lot of new tracks. There set was full of energy but pretty short.
The next band to play were Adventures from Pittsburg. They aren't local but they just released a 7inch EP from Huntington Beach's No Sleep Records. With members of Code Orange Kids, Adventures really put on a show. The female-fronted emo group played the best set of the entire night. Singer/ Guitarist Reba's half-scream half-sung vocals cut right through all the layers of distorted guitar, bass, and keyboards to set the mood for the whole set. The band's stage presence really set them apart from everyone else that played as well. I'm not sure I've ever seen a band as into their set as bassist Joe was.
Finally, Calculator came on to close out the night. Last time Calculator played was at Chain Reaction in Anaheim opening for Touche Amore and Singer Jeff Day was spotted puking immediately after their set. Calculator doesn't get to play too often because the members all live in different parts of California. Since the members are in college they are seasonal; on school breaks they play shows, record new stuff, or put out records. The band just recently self-released their first full length This Will Come to Pass. Most of their set was new songs from the album but they did play some of their older songs like "Drawing Circles" and "Bandages."
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As far as DIY spaces and DIY bands go I don't think there has ever been a festival quite like this. In Orange County there is a thriving DIY scene and although Unit B got shut down, there are other places bands can play. Day 1 of the event was all together amazing. All of the bands played great sets and even with the venue overfilled and people standing outside to get a look in, everything went smoothly...or as smoothly as it can for a cramped warehouse show.
Critical Bias: I've seen almost every Roman Candles show in the last year.
The Crowd: A lot of Joyce Manor shirts, not as many crusty punks as usual, not as rowdy as I expected.
Random Notebook Dump: The amount of work it would take to put a show like this together blows my mind; I can't believe Aaron Kovacs put it all together himself. Follow us on Twitter @OCWeeklyMusic and like us on Facebook at Heard Mentality.