Seven years after influential booker René Contreras decided to start a festival that defied the Los Angeles music industry machine, Viva! Pomona retains a surprising amount of credibility. Standing among an impressive list of Southern California music festivals that bring together current and nostalgic favorites, few lineups offer the recurring curatorial nuances and discovery opportunities that Viva! Pomona does.
Like every year, the festival’s 2018 lineup is stacked with buzzy darlings that include Girl Ultra, The Marías, and Dromedarios Mágicos, but in most cases you’ll be hard-pressed to connect names to sounds without a few Google and Spotify searches. And this remains the festival’s greatest strength: exposing devoted indie audiences to the kids making excellent music from the relative anonymity of their bedrooms.
Though Viva! Pomona is a veritable treasure trove of emerging talent, we’ve compiled a list of exciting local artists bound to make a splash at this year’s festivities. We always recommend you arrive early and catch the up-and-coming names, but for this festival in particular, the benefits of timely attendance seriously bear repeating.
Viva! Pomona takes place at The Glass House in Pomona, CA on August 18-19. Check out the full lineup here.
If you enjoy heavy psych rock from bands like Follakzoid and Los Mundos, Prettiest Eyes are sure to take you on a bizarre and wonderful journey. With roots in Puerto Rico and Juárez, Mexico, the Los Angeles-based trio has been generating buzz since the 2014 release of their first two EPs. Prettiest Eyes are known for their high-octane performances, loaded with effect-heavy keyboards, woozy guitar distortion, and Pachy García’s unsettling vocals, so be prepared for a sweaty mosh pit to swallow you whole as the show hits a fever pitch.
Prettiest Eyes play Viva! Pomona on Sunday, August 19.
This Los Angeles girl group embodies the indie hopefulness Viva! Pomona is all about. With only an EP of demos to their credit, which the group recorded in a high school classroom and in one of their bedrooms, The Pantones are making soft-spoken post-punk that is both timely and nostalgic. Madeline Doctor’s striking lead guitar has the ease of Johnny Marr at the top of his game while Isabel Salinas’ ethereal vocals recall Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan in a bittersweet one-two punch.
The Pantones play Viva! Pomona on Sunday, August 19.
If you need a respite from the sea of DIY rock hitting the Viva! stage, take refuge in Royaljag’s polished romantic pop. Exuding a sense of retro charm, the band comprised of David Ajoku and twins J. and Roland García claim pop heavyweights like ABBA, Michael Jackson, and Stevie Wonder as major influences, confidently standing on the shoulders of giants as they build their own legacy. The San Bernardino trio will give the Viva! crowd an opportunity to get lost in a whole-hearted singalong with deliciously catchy jams like “Afterglow” and “Daydream.”
Royaljag play Viva! Pomona on Saturday, August 18.
Though he’s still building a presence in the LA rap scene, J-Kwe$t’s collaborative history with Cuco and his recent feature on the artist’s retro stoner anthem “Summertime Hightime” deserve praise. The rapper has built a steady SoundCloud presence over the last two years, dropping two mixtapes packed with biting bars and wavy production that call to mind long drives and marathon smoke sessions in breezy backyard patios.
J-Kwe$t plays Viva! Pomona on Saturday, August 18.
There is something to be said about young musicians having a blast on record and on stage, and there’s no doubt that The Tracks embody that unbridled, carefree energy. The East LA foursome have released a string of dynamic singles that have us asking ourselves what The Strokes would sound like if they had come up on the West Coast. With their debut album slated to drop later this year, make sure to catch The Tracks while hype is still modest and their sound is fresh and full of possibility.
The Tracks play Viva! Pomona on Sunday, August 19.