Aaahh, the Nineties. Hard to believe it was almost two decades ago that the Orange County (OC) suburban punk rock sound blasted from speakers in dusty chop shops and surf parking lots. There were the famous bands like Offspring and Social Distortion, and ones that live on in cassette mixtapes and burned CDs, like the perfectly named Agent Orange and Avenged Sevenfold.
But there’s a lot more to the OC sound than crowd surfing and black t-shirts. From the reverb heavy surf guitar of Dick Dale to the bright sunshiny songs of Trip the Spring, the OC harbors enormous diversity in its music scene. Some of America’s biggest pop acts—Sublime, Cold War Kids, and Young the Giant—hail from the OC.
Needless to say, live music is a huge part of the scene. Now in its third iteration, The Wayfarer (which was the Detroit Bar, and before that, Club Mesa) is committed to booking live acts before they break wide open. Taco Tuesday coincides with reggae night, and come the weekend, you might catch a Joni Mitchell cover band, a fifty year old punk rocker, or a psychedelic light show extravaganza. (Or, maybe even all three). Unlike sweaty, beer drenched days of yore, the Wayfarer offers decent pub grub and pulls plenty of your favorite craft beers.
At the other end of Costa Mesa’s dive bar esthetic, The Boathouse really is a former boat building facility which morphed into an antiques store before becoming restaurant/live music venue/gallery space. It does all three things remarkably well, too, including whipping up perhaps Orange County’s most original cocktails. Entertainment is ever changing with solid local acts on the weekends and open mic nights various nights from Monday through Thursday.
If you’re a fan of stand-up, don’t miss The Anchor over on Irvine Avenue.