CPP music students rock senior project with ‘It’s Not a Phase’ festival

By Daisy Verdin, April 9, 2024

From concept to showcase, Cal Poly Pomona music industry studies students produced “It’s Not a Phase” music festival in downtown Pomona March 23.

Music industry studies students, Juan Nuñez, Rowan Gordon, Damian Torres and Jessica Garcia were the innovative minds behind the senior project, “It’s Not A Phase” music festival, referencing the phrase musicians hear from their parents who question their children’s musical aspirations.

The student-run event showcased a lineup of local indie, rock and heavy metal bands such as Funds for Jimmy, Cold Cut, Kleo, Dreary and the Renters, along with three other bands that featured CPP students.

The festival was a one-night event hosted inside the Fox Theater lobby. Two stages were set up on opposite ends of the room for bands to perform back-to-back. It was a relaxed experience with high octane energy as guests checked out the performances, ordered drinks from bars and roamed the theater to the second floor balcony of the theatre.

With about 289 tickets sold, the festival brought together young local supporters of the rock music genre. The crowd jammed out to the music while the bands put on an exciting show, interacting with the audience by spitting water into the crowd, crowd surfing and performing on the lobby’s staircase.

‘It’s Not A Phase’ takes over the Fox Theatre. Christian Magdeleno | The Poly Post

The idea of an independent rock band festival began with Nuñez’s enthusiasm to share his passion for live music.

“I settled on the idea of a festival as opposed to a concert for my senior project because festivals create a vibe that invites audience members to discover new music,” Nuñez said.

He started as an intern in 2021 at The Haven, a home for live music. Taking what he learned from that experience and through courses at Cal Poly Pomona, made the process of running a music festival with his classmates easier.

“When getting there we were all on the same page and knew how we operated and we knew how to communicate with each other so the day of it helped everything go smoothly,” Nuñez said.

CPP student band I Am A Snake kicked off the night with an energetic performance showcasing screamo music.

Jackson Munger plays electric guitar for his band I Am A Snake. Christian Magdaleno | The Poly Post

“The festival felt like a breath of fresh air for the band, being able to play in such a unique environment of all different types of bands inside the Fox Theater,” said Jackson Munger, music industry studies student and current band member.

Drummer and music industry studies student Jack Blake mentioned how special opportunities can reach new people to support their music, explaining how Cal Poly Pomona’s music program has a great sense of community, and it feels good to be a part of it with so many talented musicians and bands.

Lead singer and guitarist of Zombie Loaf, Torres took on multiple roles  by being a performer and being involved in the production of the festival.

Damian Torres performs on stage with his band ZombieLoaf. Christian Magdaleno | The Poly Post

“I feel like realistically not a lot of people have given us an opportunity before and that’s why we’re so do it yourself, so I want to give back that opportunity,” Torres said. “Right now it feels like we are finally getting that little push we’ve been wanting for so long.”

Zombie Loaf engaged the crowd by encouraging the audience to form moshpits and had the audience’s heads bopping to their punk rock songs. Torres said if the bands have an energetic stage presence, then the crowd is bound to feel that.

“We just like to go out there and I always like to talk to the crowd as if I know every single person there like everyone is my homie,” Torres said.

The band is currently recording an album at the Cal Poly Pomona Studio and will be performing at the Los Angeles County Fair in May along with Juan Nuñez and his band Racoon Cartoons.

“Seeing this festival come into fruition truly felt like a dream,” Nuñez said. “I still can’t believe it actually happened.”

Audience members form moshpits within the Fox Theatre. Christian Magdaleno | The Poly Post

Feature image courtesy of Christian Magdaleno 

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