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.
Here are the live music venues in the OC plus the many restaurants and bars that feature live music.
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. – 3503 South Harbor Boulevard, Santa Ana
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. – 400 West Disney Way #337, Anaheim
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. – 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa
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. – 14800 Chinon Avenue, Irvine
Garden Amp is located on Main Street in Garden Grove, next to Village Green Park. The all-ages, open-air multipurpose venue features a 600-seat amphitheater and a space called the Locker Room that accommodates 150. Garden Amp was voted best venue for live music for OC Weekly’s Best Of issue in 2018. The venue hosts a variety of concerts and events like The Swap and 80’s and 90’s tribute shows. Warpedpalooza: 90s vs. Y2K, Through The Roots, and Nothing Fest are a few of the events held here. Popular artists like Strung Out and Stephen Marley also take the stage here. – 12762 Main Street, Garden Grove
The world famous Doll Hut in Anaheim is a legend in the Orange County Music scene. The bar and music venue is over 100 years old and was originally a private residence turned truckstop cafe on the side of the 5 freeway. The venue became the Doll Hut when it was purchased in 1957. The small venue has been owned by promoters Linda Jemison and Mike (Big Mac) McGarvey and features live music and plenty of beer seven days a week. While a variety of genres have graced the Doll Hut stage, it is especially popular with punk bands and audiences. In fact, they host a Punk Rock Karaoke night and you can still see TSOL play here. – 107 S. Adams Street, Anaheim
Restaurants and Bars With Live Music
In addition to the larger, more popular music venues, many bars and restaurants in OC also feature live music from local and travelling bands and musicians. Here are a few Orange County locations to check out:
Bayside Restaurant (900 Bayside Drive Newport Beach, CA, 92660): Monday through Sunday, listen to everything from Latin Jazz to R&B to classics to contemporary cover tunes.
The Black Marlin (560 El Camino Real, Tustin, CA 92780): A bustling restaurant specializing in seafood & steaks, with cocktails & live jazz performances.
The Blue Beet (107 21st Pl, Newport Beach, CA 92663): A Multi-level blues, jazz & rock club with nightly live music, a dance floor, martinis & a menu of American staples.
Boathouse Collective (1640 Pomona Ave, Costa Mesa, CA 92627): The venue hosts a variety of art and live music events. Music acts range from jazz to folk to bluegrass.
The Boulevard (1824 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, CA 92627): Never a cover charge to see local musicians. Country, funk, hip-hop, reggae and live DJs all in one house.
Campus Jax (3950 Campus Dr, Newport Beach, CA 92660): A bustling supper club serving Cajun-inspired fare & cocktails in roomy quarters with live entertainment to dance to.
Chain Reaction (1652 W. Lincoln Avenue, Anaheim, CA 92802): Small music venue for local bands, tribute shows, and up and comers.
The Cliff Restaurant (577 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651): The Cliff Restaurant hosts free live music nightly, plus an artist village and 180 degree ocean views.
The Continental Room (115 W Santa Fe Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832): Offers live entertainment six days a week, including garage, rock n’ roll, punk, indie, R & B and Jazz.
The Copper Door (225 N Broadway, Santa Ana, CA 92701): Latin Thursdays, Karaoke night, flash back party’s and DJ’s on the weekend. The Copper Door has something for everybody.
Costello’s Neighborhood Tavern (27567 Puerta Real, Mission Viejo, CA 92691): Informal restaurant & bar serving Irish & American pub grub in a relaxed, brick-accented setting. Costello’s has 19 TVs, showing all major sporting events, huge outdoor patio, live music, full kitchen & bar and 19 beers on tap.
The Fifth Rooftop Restaurant & Bar (1650 S Harbor Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92802): Located at the Grand Legacy At The Park you can enjoy live music on the rooftop while watching the Disneyland fireworks. There is a wide variety of music depending on the schedule.
Fling Cocktail Lounge (2370 N Tustin Ave, Santa Ana, CA 92705): Live music plays nightly at this dive bar opened in 1972 with red velvet wallpaper & pin-up art. Fun folks, great live music to dance to and awesome drinks.
The Harp Inn (130 E 17th St, Costa Mesa, CA 92627): The Harp Inn is the home base for OC local bands that play 80s and 90s cover and tribute bands. This Irish bar is dimly lit, and the dance floor is small but the crowds are very lively.
Juke Joint (735 N. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim, CA 92805): One of Anaheim’s oldest original bars, Juke Joint is open seven days a week, 365 days a year with over 50 beers on tap and live music on stage. Must be 21 and over here.
The Karman Bar (26022 Cape Drive #C, Laguna Niguel, CA 92677): South OC’s rock bar keeps things moving with live music, TV’s, a jukebox, pool tables, darts and more. The music is loaded with rock but other things like open mic night, karaoke night, comedy night, pool tournaments and much more.
Keys on Main – OC (1870 Harbor Blvd suite L1-108, Costa Mesa, CA 92627): This venue is an all request dueling piano bar. The performers play everything from pop to rock, hip hop to country, and almost anything else you can think of.
Marine Room Tavern (214 Ocean Ave, Laguna Beach, CA 92651): Nestled in the heart of Laguna Beach the Marine Room Tavern has been around for over 75 years. This local tavern features live music and great drinks.
Mozambique (1740 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651): Mozambique’s Durban Room have live music which varies from R & B to cover bands. Have dinner and drinks on the rooftop over looking the ocean and stay for the music.
Muldoon’s Irish Pub (202 Newport Center Dr, Newport Beach, CA 92660): A restaurant and pub serving Irish cuisine like corn beef & cabbage amid live music, a fireplace & patio.
Old Crow Smokehouse (21022 Pacific Coast Hwy, Huntington Beach/ 1535 West Katella Ave, Orange, CA 92687): Old Crow Smokehouse features barbecue by the beach and a line-up of country bands with no cover charge every Friday and Saturday night. Located at Pacific City.
Original Mike’s – This 15,000 square foot entertainment center features state-of-the-art stage lighting, laser lighting effects, fog machines, and the pulsing dance rhythms of OC’s hottest DJs.
The Post at Rockwell’s (17853 Santiago Blvd, Villa Park, CA 92861/101 W Avenida Vista Hermosa 116, San Clemente, CA 92672): There are two locations but both feature live music including original artists and popular cover bands. Food and of course drinks, are also served. There is no cover charge.
The Quiet Woman (3224 Pacific Coast Hwy, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625): Dine, drink and play at this CDM institution. QW provides a live music venue to promote and celebrate local musicians. Have dinner and then sit back and listen to the music which starts around 9:00 – 9:30 on the small stage crammed into the corner.
The Ranch Saloon (1025 E. Ball Road, Anaheim, CA 92805): Located in Anaheim, The Ranch Saloon (next to The Ranch Restaurant) is a popular upscale venue for live country music and dancing with two bars, seating, dance floor, dance lessons, and more.
The Sandpiper Lounge (1183 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651): The Dirty Bird is a quintessential dive bar that attracts visitors and locals alike featuring live-music stage.
Skyloft OC (422 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651): The Skyloft has music 5 nights a week ranging from DJs, to country to vocalists and guitarists. The Skyloft also offers ocean views and rooftop dining serving American cuisine.
Slidebar (122 E. Commonwealth Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832): Slidebar Rock-N-Roll Kitchen celebrates good food and good music, paying homage to the musical history of Orange County. Slidebar features musical guests from a variety of genres.
Still Water (24701 Del Prado Ave, Dana Point, CA 92629): Still Water has indoor and outdoor seating, live entertainment, handcrafted cocktails and over 50 beers on tap.
Wayfarer (843 W. 19th Street, Costa Mesa, CA 92627): Wayfarer is a small venue in Costa Mesa that features a variety of musical guests including country, rock, reggae, and tribute bands.
Zing’s Bistro (209 N Harbor Blvd, Fullerton, CA 92832): This restaurant doubles as a nightclub on the weekends, with DJs spinning but there is also open mic night on Thursdays.