Viva Pomona Was This Summer’s Most Underrated Music Festival

Viva Pomona
The Glass House 

Viva Pomona hit the Glass House in Downtown Pomona this past weekend and felt like a two-day mini music wonderland with fashionable hipsters, ice cream and food trucks, and three intimate stages with 46 local and international indie acts to satisfy the diverse musical palettes of all the alternative kids in attendance. The musical gathering was far less crowded and taxing than FYF or Coachella and with talented acts that’ll likely headline the aforementioned festivals in a few year’s time. 

Saturday headliners Shannon and The Clams brought out enamored couples and even a surprise proposal. Sunday’s main event brought out the Chipsters (Chicano hipsters) who boogied down to local East LA favorites Chicano Batman. Notable acts across the two-day fest also included Alice Bag, Hunny, The Frights, Cashius Green, Speak, Mangchi and Sad Girl. 

Alice Bag rocked the main stage at the Glass House on Saturday in feminist punk rock fashion. The living punk legend dressed in a cute houndstooth dress while screaming lyrics addressing rape and domestic violence such as, “No, means no!” and “He’s so sorry.” Young and old punks alike erupted into mosh pits at the start of every song. Alice’s band was dressed to the nines and saw notable members such as the Weekly‘s very own Candance Hansen on drums and Bag’s own daughter on backup vocals. 
New-comers, Hunny rocked the outdoor Radical stage with their flavor of indie new wave. The upbeat band drew in a large and intrigued crowd who couldn’t resist their joyous, foot tapping sound and drawly vocals. The five members of Hunny were all smiles as the entire crowd danced along to their polished guitars and quirky keys. 

The Frights packed the indoor main stage with a crazy mosh pit that looked like a tornado of bodies thrashing around. Surf melodies accompanied with punk guitar solos ending with unhinged shredding augmented the chaos the band already brought to the Glass House pit. 

Shannon and the Clams’s blend of garage, surf, psych and doo-wop brought a romantic and beachy vibe to the end of Saturday night. Beach balls were thrown around the crowd of couples slow dancing and melodically singing along to Shannon Shaw’s sweet throwback R&B vocals. Mid-set, a young woman was welcomed onstage by the band to propose to her girlfriend which brought tears to everyone in attendance—she said yes!

Sunday saw an added presence of hip hop to the overwhelmingly indie rock and punk festival as Cashius Green and Speak served up West Coast style raps dedicated to la raza. Chipsters especially took a liking to Speak as he hit home with lines such as, “I lit 43 candles for 43 students, we all know what the truth is,” many proud and politically angered Chicanos cheered with approval. When Speak asked the crowd to make some noise the audience erupted with cheers and one guy even barked DMX style. 

All the chaotic mosh pits and wild rap sets in the world could not prepare someone for the bizarre and destructive set by Mangchi—an experimental punk band led by bat shit crazy contemporary artist David Choe along with Steve Lee, Money Mark of Beastie Boys fame, Heather Leather and James Jean. The five-piece band performed with war paint splattered all over their bodies and aggressive attitude. Aside from chanting “shit” in Korean which is ttong, Mangchi’s wild set saw David Choe screaming his brains out while high-kicking and trying to choke on his microphone, Money Mark smashing his keyboard over his head, and fans thrashing around the stage in utter chaos. This band is not for the faint of heart but boy are they fun to watch. 

Sad Girl —the lo-fi, surf-wop trio, made their third Viva Pomona appearance which brought an eclectic mixture of slow dancers and moshers to their outdoor set. Teen girls swooned over lead singer and guitarist Misha’s baritone vocals and couples slow danced into the late summer night—a perfect pregame for the funky prom vibes to come from Chicano Batman’s highly anticipated set. 

Finally, the moment all the hipster cholas rockin’ beehive hair do’s, baggy or skin tight denim, and Chicano Batman t-shirts were waiting for came as the Glass House indoor stage filled to capacity to welcome the beloved East Los Angeles soul pysch band. Colorful balloons were tossed around in the crowd and loud grandiose cheers filled the room as the fabuloso four hit the stage.  Every song was met with enthusiastic fervor. “Cycles of Existential Rhyme” and “Itotiani” had fans reciting lyrics word per word.

However, the nearly perfect set was riddled with sound difficulties as the volume kept dropping. Chicano Batman played through the issues yet every time the sound faded the crowd would jeer in agitation then immediately follow with loud singing in an attempt to back up their beloved band until the sound was fixed—this happened four times throughout the hour-long set.  Sound difficulties or not, Chicano Batman’s die-hard loyal fan base weren’t going to let a few set backs ruin their good time. Still completely enamored by the band’s presence, the sold out audience sent the East Los guys off with cheers loud enough to shake the walls of the Glass House. 

And with that, the vibrant festival came to a close as everyone spilled to the outside of the venue grounds. Kiddies waited for their parents to pick them up while others after-partied at the adjacent Acerogami or the rest of the bars in Downtown Pomona. Viva felt like an intimate DIY festival reminiscent of the early days of its Los Angeles’ counterpart, FYF. And just like FYF, Viva Pomona has the sprouting potential of turning into an even larger production in the near future while still keeping its grassroots conscious. Until next year!

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