Viva! Pomona fest is back, one of the more exciting music festivals that locals and music fans from surrounding cities have come to appreciate as a yearly jaunt to discover new music from different parts of the world, placing Pomona on the musical map.
The lineup this year boasts a heavy number of Latin American groups, a move based on organizer Rene Contreras' working class roots, but there's still a range of different sonic styles to sink your teeth into. If many of the group names seem unfamiliar to you, or you're not sure who to check out at the two-day fest, here's a small sampler of some venerable musicians and what to expect.
10. Triangulo de Amor Bizarro
One of the wonderful and remarkable qualities of Viva! is its ability to bridge different countries together and introduce groups from Latin America and all over the world to the states. Traingulo de Amor Bizarro (or Bizarre Love Triangle for you non-habla folks) are a noise/punk rock group from Spain who take their band name from the New Order song and meld drone-y shoegaze together with punk, citing My Bloody Valentine, Jesus and Mary Chain and The Beach Boys as immediate influences.
9. Isaac Rother and the Phantoms
Feeling in the mood for something more groovy and retro? Isaac Rother and the Phantoms recall the rhythms of early '60s rock n' roll, before it was overtaken by the British Invasion. Recommended if you're a fan of Shannon and the Clams, Rother and his spooky-centric, Screamin' Jay Hawkins throwback project intertwine their love for doo wop, '50s love ballads, blues, Bo Diddley, soul, and more.
8. Ruido Rosa
Now here's something completely different; all female trio Ruido Rosa from Mexico have an elegant alt-rock sound that at times sounds reminiscent of '90s indie rock, with some definite nods to late '90s and early 2000s Mexican indie rock a la Alejandra Guzman. A little slower-paced for a festival already entrenched in surf and garage rock for the day, but there's still some grunginess about them that fits for Viva! attendees.
7. Rudy de Anda
Check out this swaggy profile on Rudy in a recent locals only piece, and check him out at Viva! this year as every live experience seeing Rudy De Anda play is unique and brings something new and unexpected. The Long Beach musician has been busy crafting his sound: Mexican crooners from the heyday of the 1960s tangled with with lighter, melodic harmonies for a dreamlike listening experience.
6. Las Robertas
Costa Rican group Las Robertas have infiltrated the states with their brand of surf rock marked by echo-y, somber vocals, upbeat drums and fuzzed out guitars. It's notable that this trio (and sometimes quartet) have played multiple festivals throughout the US such as Austin Psych Fest, Primavera Sound Fest and SXSW; they're not exactly new but they have yet to make a solid breakthrough here, however they are high profile by this point.
5. Thee Commons
Thee Commons are quite familiar in these parts, playing shows in OC regularly and melting the good rhythms of Latin America into their sound. The band's unique blend of cumbia, psychedelia, Peruvian chicha music, surf, and punk rock win both sets of English and Spanish speakers as they break into a sweat. And for a group so busy performing so much of the time, somehow they find time to release new music every month– they have at least seven EPs at this point.
Hey everybody, it's Antwon! Yes, the rapper is featured in this year's lineup, and although his inclusion would seem somewhat odd in the midst of so many surf and punk groups, it would be remiss not to have him; the dude was raised in the hardcore and pop punk music scenes before launching his own career-changing mixtapes, and his rap style has great charisma and wit against dope beats.
3. The Spits
Seattle-based punk band The Spits are headlining Viva! fest Saturday, sure to end the festival's first half on a stellar note. They evoke a truly classic, early eighties-era punk sound that's often messy, noisey and lo-fi, and bring a cocksure attitude to the stage not normally matched. And oh yes, the group have been known to play their live shows dressed up as everything from nuns to mummies. As they put it, they're "punk for the people."
To anyone who's been tuned into the wave of psychedelic garage rock in the past few years, Froth need no introduction. They've crafted their own niche within the Burger and Lolipop records sects and deliver a dark, moody reverb sound that's still energetic and danceable. Their live sets are especially killer when the members descend into an extended odyssey of their tracks and let loose onstage, setting everyone else into a dance frenzy.
1. Death Lens
LA group Death Lens have been gaining tons of traction for their rambunctious lo-fi punk that fires on all cylinders from the get go. Their releases reveal a brash energy and spark that serves as a suitable soundtrack for summer: loud, fast and high octane punk, best listened to while driving down a highway, during barbecue parties and keggers, or in a raging pit of crazed fans busting moves and dancing wildly in a crowd, like at their Saturday set.