In a smoky garage in East Salinas, Franky Rivera puts out his cigarette as he lets out a loud, booming laugh at an off-color joke made by a friend. Rivera’s loud voice and large stature create a commanding presence, making it easy to see why he’s the frontman for his death metal band, Asterion. He’s also a promoter for the Salinas chapter of Pin Up Productions, a San Francisco Bay Area-based company that books punk, metal and hardcore bands. Many of their shows are open to all ages, giving youth under 18 a place to gather and let off steam. Most of Pin Up’s Salinas shows take place at La Movida Night Club on East Alisal Street, or in the backyards of promoters’ homes in East Salinas.
Rivera, now 27, first got into Salinas’ underground music scene at 15 when his band Dark Beginning played their first show at the Soledad YMCA. Hooked on the adrenaline from performing on stage, he continued to play and attend shows throughout his high school years. He noticed a problem of low attendance at Salinas shows, so he and some friends decided start In Your Face Productions in 2014, which merged with Pin Up a year later, giving local bands a chance to reach a wider audience.
Weekly: How did you first get involved with In Your Face/Pin Up?
Rivera: In Your Face just sort of came to be. In 2013, Sal Cisneros [of the band Vianna] and I started working together, putting on shows in Salinas. I would help him out booking some bands and he would handle the financial aspects. Later on, we joined with his bandmate Calvin Gines to form In Your Face and put on shows at the Rock Boxing Gym on East Alisal. My first time running a venue by myself was a Halloween show [in 2013] that went pretty well.
Who are the main bands in the Salinas scene right now?
That question is a little hard to answer because I don’t want to play favorites. Outdone from Gonzales is starting to tour, as is Gardens from Salinas. Worship, also from Salinas, is a very underappreciated band. Aethere from the Bay Area is putting out some great music as well. Noma, Bound by Aura, Creators and Strawberry Girls are some local bands just starting out, trying to get over the threshold of obscurity to reach more people. Asterion is doing OK, but I don’t really like to toot my own horn.
What goes into putting on a show?
It depends on the kind of show you want to have. If you want a local show then you contact local bands. Make sure to book a strong headliner, a popular band you know will bring people out: That way, their crowd can see the other bands, increasing exposure for everybody. We like to give smaller bands just starting out a chance to show what they’ve got, so we’ll book a few of them as openers. This gives them practice playing in front of an audience and helps them meet other bands they might want to tour with later in their careers. We also do a lot of tour packages, helping out bands on the road who are trying to expand their name. It’s good to get scenes from different areas working together; it helps build a stronger community.
What’s the most rewarding part of organizing a show?
For me it’s seeing the crowd full of people going nuts, and getting thanked for bringing the bands together. I love seeing how local musicians progress, watching someone get better. It also gives people a place to get away from all the negativity that we seem to have a lot of in Salinas, somewhere to have fun and socialize instead of staying home playing video games.
What advice for do you have for people who might want to become promoters?
Save up some money: You’re going to need it to cover the costs of organizing a show. You need to print fliers, pay rent for the venue and pay the sound workers. You also need to have water for the bands, and if bands are touring, they might want food. You need to make sure the bands are treated right by the venue as well, because some venues try to take advantage of newer bands.
To see a schedule of PIN UP PRODUCTIONS’ upcoming shows, visit www.pinuppresents.net.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the following corrections: One band, Strawberry Girls, was inaccurately identified as Strawberry Groves; Another band, Vianna, was inaccurately identified as Vienna; and the location of the YMCA show was Soledad, not Salinas.