Last weekend, I had the pleasure of performing at Earache Records' 25th-anniversary label showcase in Pomona, California.
The event was sponsored by Scion AV, which, in the last few years, has used its in-house record label to help promote different musical genres, including metal. This event was free to the public with an online RSVP for entry. I heard there were about 1,500 RSVP's, and I would estimate at least 1000 people attended the show.
Also on the bill were thrash bands Bonded By Blood and Vektor. This lineup represented Earache very well, as they are best known for being a pioneer of extreme metal but in recent years have diversified with a few hard rock bands such as White Wizzard, and most recently Rival Sons, who achieved great success in 2012.
It's important to mention I am the guitarist for White Wizzard, so instead of reviewing the bands, I wanted to talk about the audience, location and overall experience of performing at the event.
Despite the vast contrast in genre and style, each band got an amazing crowd response, and it was surprising just how open-minded metal fans can be. As I was performing, I really felt the excitement from the crowd and took a few photos to capture the experience. I really hate the cliche when musicians talk about "feeling the energy from the audience," but in this case, I really did.
After the event, I noticed that the audience, instead of vanishing, hung around outside the venue where there were market stalls and food trucks. The fans hung around for hours, and as I was loading gear out of the venue would engage me in conversation. It was at this point I realized Pomona had a genuine "scene," which is something that is very hard to find in heavy metal today.
I've played countless shows in Los Angeles and never once seen something like this. My advice to metal bands in LA is to play out in Pomona and tap into this scene. You'll have a better chance of picking up real fans than playing on the strip.
To finish, I want to talk about Earache and Scion AV, who put on the event. From moment we arrived in Pomona, the bands were taken care of, and the show went off without a hitch. It was nice to be able to enjoy the atmosphere of the show and network rather than worry about the issues that usually accompany playing live.
Scion AV recorded the whole event and I believe will post videos to their website soon, so keep a look out for those. If you're in an indie band that's looking for exposure, you should look into working with Scion AV. I've heard from other bands and can tell you from my own personal experience they will give you opportunities and help you promote your band in a way that's difficult come by these days.
I had a great weekend out in Pomona, and now I'm looking forward to recording White Wizzard's new album, which will be out later this year. Cheers!
Will Wallner is a guitarist from England now living in Los Angeles. He recently signed a solo deal with Polish record label Metal Mind Productions for the release of his debut album, which features influential musicians from hard rock and heavy metal. He also is the lead guitarist for White Wizzard (Earache Records) and in 2012 toured Japan, America and Canada. Follow Will on Facebook and Twitter.