Scion AV’s annual free music fest, The Rock Fest returns to Pomona, CA after the last one in 2011, and turning the Glass House and Fox Theater into a mini music mecca for the day. The fest is held in a different city each year and bringing it back to Pomona with another strong lineup gave fans something to be excited about once again.
Four venues within the area (The Glass House, The Fox Theater, Sky Fox Lounge, and Acerogami) housed the bands who performed throughout the day. Wristbands for those who RSVP’d for the event were handed out in advance and arranged much better so attendees did not have to wait in long lines like the last time the event was held there.
Sky Fox Lounge and Acerogami were the two smaller venues which held some of the up and comers within the stoner rock, doom and experimental bands on the scene today. Much of the crowd in those venues preferred the intimate atmosphere of those two venues and the more underground vibe of the acts playing within those venues.
Sky Fox Lounge featured such acts as riff rock acts such as MOAB and Lord Dying, sludge/doom acts such as Black Sheep Wall, experimental acts such as Windhand and Jex Thoth, and extreme acts such as Japan’s Coffins, who made a rare US appearance. Fans who congregated at the venue definitely felt the vibe there, and were there to soak in sounds they would not normally get to see.
Acerogami’s lineup was largely lesser known stoner rock and hard rock acts who were making their first time appearances on the West Coast and gaining more exposure thanks to the help of Scion AV. Much of the bands within this room were coming from the stoner rock and doom realms, where bands like Pittsburgh based Pins of Light and San Francisco based Carousel both set the vibe and got the early comers with lots of cool riff sounds and lots of excitement overall. Another San Francisco based act Hot Lunch have quickly become a rising name within the genre circles and put on another strong performance, as did Nashville psychedelic rock act All Them Witches. of the French psychedelic rockers Aqua Nebula Oscillator drew some much curiosity from the attendees and became one of the much talked about acts of the night.
The Glass House held the punk and the experimental acts of the evening. Veteran acts BL’AST featured former Queens of the Stone Age rhythm section Nick Oliveri and Joey Castillo alongside frontman Clifford Dinsmore, blazing through their classic tunes with a mini-pit circling alongside the band. Veteran speed metal/punk outfit Midnight kept the momentum going with the same energy despite the crowd coming and going in between venues. Veteran Bay Area death freaks Exhumed made another one of their regular So Cal appearances and once again put on another powerful set. Power Trip and In Cold Blood both represented the classic crossover hardcore/thrash styles that sometimes get overlooked in the So Cal area. They both played strong sets and gave lessons to the crowd in the genre. Speed metallers Speedwolf and Nekrogoblikon rounded out of the day with early set calls and gave the early attendees a taste of metal that flying under the radar.
The Fox Theatre held the high profile names of the event, with King Buzzo of The Melvins opening with his acoustic set similar to what he previously performed a recent Scion AV event at LA’s Satellite. Big Business followed with a loud and powerful set who are no stranger to the Melvins world. Quite the opposite of King Buzzo’s set, but still made an impact and set the tone for the day.
Orchid’s classic riff rock stylings became the lead into a much anticipated Crowbar appearance, where they grabbed the attention of the crowd and never let down throughout their set. Red Fang followed with their usual set list of heavy riffing and a set full of energy that kept going from Crowbar. High On Fire put on their usually ear bleeding loud set of riff rock tune and also never let go of the crowd.
Headliners Machine Head did an unusually longer set list of songs that spanned across their history and more. Their newest song ‘Killers & Kings’ was featured within their set list, as well as a few songs from each of their albums. A good mix of old and new (and yes “Old” was one of them they played), Machine Head does not disappoint and a longer set from these guys is always a treat to witness.
Overall, Scion AV Rock Fest is a whole lot of music for free during a time when the music world is struggling to attract audiences towards live shows and buying music. Events like these should help attract fans of the genre towards newer bands and getting reacquainted with older bands they may have once enjoyed.
WORDS BY REI NISHIMOTO