He’s only 22 and he’s been booking shows since he was about 14 years old. In fact, the fist show he curated was in a backyard in his hometown of Pomona and shit got rowdy, so rowdy that “kids were getting their teeth kicked in their lips.” He has a monstrous curly mop atop his babyface, and you’ve probably seen him around the Pomona music and arts scene, as well as many local Los Angles shows and festivals including Coachella and FYF. We’re talking about Rene Contreras! He’s the boy and the brains behind Viva! Pomona and you should get to know him and his awesome music festival.
How did you start working in music?
I started passing out flyers and in return I got to go to shows for free. My flyering skills increased through out the years and I was eventually hired to promote shows. Later on, the Glass House (my second home) in Pomona hired me to work the door for their shows, and then I became a heavy musicholic.
How did Viva! Pomona come about?
It all started at a taco shop a couple of friends and I were eating tacos we started brain storming on creating a little show that exposed smaller bands and brought justice to the local music scene. We wanted to build a unique experience for the people that live in the Inland Empire. Most kids that live in cities like Chino, Montclair, Azusa, Ontario, etc. don’t have the amenities to venture out to Los Angeles and check out a cool band. The older kids that have cars usually have to bust missions spotting each other with gas money just to make the trip out to Los Angeles for a show. Viva! Pomona is for all of those people that want to stay home and still enjoy a good show. The reason we decided to name it Viva! was because it’s a celebration of a city, just like all cities Pomona has really cool things to offer for the cool cats that live out in Los Angeles that want to take the adventure of coming out this way.
Where do you see Viva! Pomona in five years?
I don’t know about five years, but I would like to keep it going. I want to be able to expose the city of Pomona. There are a lot of amazing things coming out of it. We have a bi-weekly art walk that bring out a lot of people. A ton of art galleries are opening and kids are starting to believe in their dreams. We are also lucky enough to have two amazing venues, the Glass House and the Fox Theatre Pomona that bring bands like Tame Impala, the Specials and Yeah Yeah Yeahs into town. Those venues are a massive part of downtown Pomona.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself not taking the bus and riding my skateboard everywhere (I will still ride my skateboard but not across cities)! Hopefully I will be done with school, it’s like a toothache that doesn’t go away.
What other shows have you booked?
I have really good friends out in Tijuana, Mexico last year I was fortunate enough to help them with their festival, All My Friends. It was a lot of fun! People in Tijuana know how to appreciate music and there are some amazing musicians coming out of that city and in Latin America in general. Great music is sprouting all over the world. I also book independent shows here-and-there in Pomona with the Glass House and throughout Los Angeles — but I still keep it real and do out of control house shows from time-to-time.
What was your first concert?
My first concert was when I was in middle school I was about 13 years old. It was a pyschobilly/punk house show I remember my dad dropping me off in front of a house with two massive guys sporting mohawks and pounding 40’s and smoking cigarettes in the front yard. I still remember the look my dad gave me as I jumped out of the car and waved to him goodbye. The show was pretty rowdy people would hire their older brothers whom were cholos to be security guards.
Who are some of your favorite local bands ?
This a hard question they are all my favorite. I feel like the Los Angeles music scene is really on top of their game right now. So many more people are picking up instruments and making beautiful noise.
Are you like, the new Sean Carlson?
I am big fan of him and his team.
Anything else you’d like to add?
We have a special Selena show we are working on at Aladdin Jr 2 on Saturday, July 13. We also have a really exciting show coming up with our friends at KSVG 89.7FM Savage Radio out in Bakersfield — hinting maybe, “Viva! Bakersfield! The secret guest is an actual secret guest. I day dream about them on the bus everyday. I also wanted to take the time to thank all the box offices whom are being incredibly awesome Burger Records, Amoeba Records, Origami Vinyl, Glass House Record Store and The Well. I also want to thank everyone whom is a part of this project, without them this concert/movement is nothing, thanks to everyone that has helped me flyer, create flyers, Websites, videos, and everything imaginable. Without you guys none of this would of been possible!
Viva! Pomona takes place Saturday, July 27 at the Glass House featuring Allah-Las, Milk Music, The Lovely Bad Things, Mrs, Magician, Colleen Green, Tomorrow’s Tulips and many more acts. Check out the flyer below for more details and RSVP to Viva! Pomona via Facebook. Tickets are priced at $15 in advance. Get your tickets here!