¡Viva! Pomona: A Celebration of Emerging Musical Talent
René Contreras, a music aficionado from Southern California, has spent over a decade discovering and promoting up-and-coming artists. His tireless dedication to finding hidden gems and booking concerts in his hometown of Pomona has led to the creation of Festival ¡Viva!
“It’s surreal, really. And every year that goes by there are new artists, new generations and new projects that maybe people don’t know about. And it’s great because we managed to put it on the map for a lot of people here,” Contreras says.
Since its inception, ¡Viva! Pomona has showcased a diverse lineup of artists, including Chicano Batman, The Marias, Omar Apollo, The Garden, Cuco, and DannyLux. The festival returns for its eleventh year at The Glass House in Pomona on July 15-16.
Contreras, a first-generation Chicano, started his career booking backyard concerts for local teenagers in the Inland Empire. Over time, he saw the music scene grow and wanted to expand his reach. This led to a chance meeting with Paul Tollett, CEO of Goldenvoice, the company behind Coachella. Tollett’s support led to the launch of ¡Viva! Pomona in 2013.
A key focus of the festival is to highlight independent artists, particularly Latino artists from Southern California. ¡Viva! Pomona aims to create an inclusive environment where both Spanish and English-speaking audiences can come together to appreciate music.
Over the years, bands from Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Argentina, and Spain have participated in the festival, with some experiencing their first shows in the U.S. This year, Contreras has booked several bands from Latin America and the Caribbean, including Jamaican-based artist Indie Anthony.
Despite growing in scale, ¡Viva! Pomona still retains its DIY spirit. It provides a welcoming space for artists to connect and collaborate. The festival has paved the way for Contreras to curate the Sonora Tent at Coachella, where he continues to champion alternative and indie rock genres alongside Latin artists.
Contreras sees his role as more than just a talent buyer and promoter. He believes in supporting and nurturing talent, helping artists develop their careers from smaller festivals like ¡Viva! Pomona to larger platforms like Coachella.
With ¡Viva! Pomona and his role at Goldenvoice, Contreras remains committed to staying ahead of the curve in the music industry and discovering the next big thing.
Hurray! Pomona will take place on July 15-16 at The Glass House in Pomona. Tickets are available at theglasshouse.us.