Live music venues are a must for Orange County. The culturally diverse area has churned out unforgettable musical acts and entire genres of new music. Surf rock sounds from Los Angeles legends like Dick Dale and the Beach Boys gave new life to the Orange County surf scene. In the 1970s, the punk movement birthed iconic bands like Agent Orange, The Vandals, and probably the most classic of OC bands – Social Distortion. The 1990s gave us music legends like the Offspring and No Doubt. Recent success stories like Avenged Sevenfold from Huntington Beach prove that Orange County is still a musical powerhouse. Whether you’re looking to catch some of Orange County’s local acts or big bands from all over the country, check these Orange County live music venues for your next concert experience.
The Observatory and The Constellation Room Orange County
3503 South Harbor Boulevard, Santa Ana
This small-scale venue with big sound is the perfect place to see both big names and up-and-comers. Recently, Panic! At the Disco performed two sold out pop up shows here with just two days’ notice. The upcoming calendar features a variety of music including the Dickies, The Distillers, The Breeders, KRS-One, Wiz Khalifa, and MGMT. The Observatory is a large room for bigger shows with a few tables available for reservation in the rear of the venue. The remaining area is standing room only. The Constellation Room is a small room with an intimate setting and no permanent seating. Check the website for venue information and upcoming events.
House of Blues
400 West Disney Way #337, Anaheim
The House of Blues is an old standard, and the Anaheim venue has moved to a new location. They still offer good food and good music on a grand scale. They have daily happy hour during the week, karaoke with a live band, and the World Famous Gospel Brunch on select Sundays. There are multiple venues here so multiple shows and events often take place at the same time. The Foundation Room hosts events like Local Vocals and Hip-Hop Night, while larger concerts take place in another area. The House of Blues calendar features a variety of musical talent including ZZ Top, Dashboard Confessional, Blackalicious, Scotty McCreery, New Found Glory, and Dita Von Teese’s Burlesque Review. Check the House of Blues website for upcoming events and prices and to make a reservation.
Pacific Amphitheater at the OC Fair & Event Center
88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa
Every summer, the Pacific Amphitheatre at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa kicks off their summer concert series. Opened in July 1983, Barry Manilow was the first to perform on stage here. The Pacific Amphitheater is surprisingly large, with seating for over 8,000 concert-goers. In comparison, the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles seats just under 6,000. The 2018 Summer Series is packed full of legendary performers, including comedians Steve Martin and Martin Short with many exciting performances happening during the annual Orange County Fair. Musical guests offer something for everyone with sounds from classic rock to country to reggae. Big names include the Psychedelic Furs, Rebelution, the Pacific Symphony, El Fantasma, Rick Springfield, Frankie Valli, Kool & The Gang, Earth, Wind, & Fire, Willie Nelson, Brett Eldredge, and Hunter Hayes. The Summer Concert Series runs from July 4th (Includes fireworks during the show) through August 18th. Check the events calendar to order tickets to a hot summer show.
Five Point Amphitheatre
14800 Chinon Avenue, Irvine
It was a sad day in Orange County when the popular outdoor music venue Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre (also known as Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre) closed in the Fall of 2016 after 35 years of music. The legendary venue hosted festivals like Lollapalooza and KROQ’s Weenie Roast. Iconic bands from The Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan to No Doubt and The Dave Matthews Band graced the stage. Gwen Stefani and Young the Giant closed out farewell season on October 30, 2016 with plans for developers to demolish the site to build more housing. Sigh. A new venue is now upon us: The Five Point Amphitheatre, located near the Great Park in Irvine. The new Amphitheatre has 6,500 fold down seats, plus room for up to 5,500 more in lawn areas. The 2018 event calendar is shaping up nicely to include performances from Poison, Chicago and REO Speedwagon, Kevin Hart, Slightly Stoopid, Pentatonix, Counting Crows, Lady Antebellum, Rob Zombie, Rascal Flatts, and many more. Time will tell if Five Point will become the icon that Irvine Meadows is, but having a large scale live music venue in Orange County gives us hope, and we’re thankful we didn’t have to wait too long for the doors to open. Check the concert calendar to see what’s happening.