Iconic music venues shine in the Arts Colony of Pomona

By Kailee Santiago and Marline Esquivel, April 23, 2024

While many college students are spending thousands of dollars to attend the second week of Coachella, Cal Poly Pomona students have access to historic music venues that once featured a few of the most iconic bands of the 21st century just 15 minutes way from campus.

Two of the music venues located in the Arts Colony were founded by one of CPP’s alumnus, Paul Tollett. Tollett helped revive The Fox Theatre turning it into the venue it is today. Music was his passion leading him to create the successful music festival, Coachella.

Downtown Pomona is home to many music venues. The Haven Pomona, The Glass House Concert Hall and The Fox Theater Pomona, two of which have been open for more than 25 years and the third having history dating back to the Great Depression. Nestled in the Arts Colony of Downtown Pomona, each venue has hosted outstanding performances from mainstream artists/bands and emerging local artists.

The Arts Colony of Downtown Pomona is the center for artists to perform and display their art. Art galleries, music venues and shops welcome countless enthusiasts to enjoy and take part in all that Pomona has to offer.

Ashley McCracken is a music industry student and pianist and percussionist in a few of the ensembles on campus.

“Downtown Pomona is so amazing,” says McCracken. “It’s such a cool place. So many cool restaurants, I believe it is the second Saturday of the month when they have The Artwalk,”says McCracken.

The intimate venue out of the three, The Haven Pomona, is home to concerts and has been around since 1992. The venue holds a standing capacity of 127 people. Being a smaller venue, it caters to more local, uprising artists and bands in the area. The Haven has hosted many CPP student performers over the years and even put on an open-mic show for students in September 2023.

Jessica Garcia, also known as THE DRAMA, is a music industry student and a sound technician at The Haven who started as an intern and managed to work her way up. Garcia was also one of the founders of the “Its Not a Phase” music festival in April at the Fox Theater. She was the lead sound engineer in charge of the stage set that night. The festival brought together many fans of rock music with a few CPP students sharing the stage that night.

The Haven is also a free-of-charge venue that allows performers to play for free, allowing them to explore their true talents for no cost. Never following one specific genre of music, The Haven is constantly changing its sound. The performances range from indie pop, rap, hardcore, Midwest emo and more.

“It’s an excellent venue to go to and find new artists,” said Garcia. “It reminds me of a real-life Spotify when you are looking for new artists and music to listen to.”

What sets The Haven apart from the other venues is that it is a DIY venue that steadily takes in younger bands and artists who are still on the rise. It allows the rising stars to show off their potential and get a taste of the rockstar lifestyle. The Red Pears, a local band from El Monte who hit the stage at The Haven a few years prior has moved on to play at a bigger venue as they are performing at Coachella this year.

Rell Sol, manager of the Haven, shares some of his most memorable performances that have rocked the Haven stage.

“My favorites are Marlon Funaki, also Big Fun who has played here twice and my last is Ear Ringers,” said Sol.

No Doubt, one of Coachella’s main acts this year, was the first band to ever play in The Glass House. The Glass House in Pomona opened its doors Jan. 25, 1996. No Doubt headlined its first two-day sold out shows, promoting their third studio album Tragic Kingdom. The blended ska punk, alternative rock and new wave sound echoed through the building to a blistering crowd. The venue blew up in popularity because of its all-ages rock and punk shows.

“The venue was built to give kids and young adults something to do without having to drive to Los Angeles,” said Jon Halperin, The Glass House talent buyer.

Many historic bands played for this venue such as Rage Against the Machine, White Stripes and some of Halperin’s favorites like Johnny Marr and Vampire Weekend.

Unlike The Haven, The Glass House is a harder booking to get for smaller artists. Most of the performers who come to The Glass House already have a big following and popularity. Future acts are encouraged to always keep going and not be discouraged.

“I would play smaller rooms first and build your draw and work on your popularity,” said Halperin. “Come to the (The Glass House) when you have something to offer. It will be quite difficult to get the band booked.”

The Glass House stands proud as a memorable staple in Pomona.

“We are by Pomona, for Pomona. We are here for the kids,” added Halperin.

The Fox Theater is the most historic out of the three. Built in 1931, the theater first opened as a Hollywood-glam movie palace and closed in 1976 as the audiences started to decrease.  It wasn’t until decades later in 2002 that the theater was purchased and revamped into the music venue it is today.

With a capacity of 2,000 people, the venue is home to many prominent artists and bands.

“Everyone from Lucille Ball to Snoop Dogg has performed on this stage,” said Rachel Doell, the events and production manager for The Fox Theater.

Coachella brings some of its acts to The Fox Theater during festival season. Blur and Jungle, two bands featured on this year’s Coachella lineup, performed at The Fox Theater this month right before hitting the desert. Also, the British band Palace is playing at The Glasshouse after their Coachella gig.

The venue stays up to date with the music by following the monthly trends and local favorites.

“We stay current with the local music scene, with any type of industry music scene and we stay up to date with whatever is going on to keep it up here at The Fox Theater,” said Doell,

The Fox Theater encourages all CPP musicians to keep striving hard and make connections so they can play there in the future.

Bands such as Bulma, Soen, and Panchiko are scheduled to perform at these venues in May. This spring save on time, money and take advantage of the many upcoming concerts happening just a few miles away from Cal Poly Pomona at The Haven Pomona, The Glass House Concert Hall and The Fox Theater Pomona.

Feature image courtesy of Kailee Santiago and Marline Esquivel

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