Best Venue for Live Music - 2008
Sure, it's in the opulent Orange County Performing Arts Center complex, but lately, it has been dipping its toes into the less-haughty waters of indie rock via the Off Center concert series. This has been a fortuitous turn of events (literally) for OC music-heads, bringing in renowned acts like YACHT, the Walkmen and Pinback, who might otherwise have skipped our county for LA and/or San Diego. While the 500-seat theater may radiate a slight aura of high-school basketball court thanks to those maple hardwood floors, it has some of the best sightlines in the county, augmented by the balcony's healthy square footage. Plus, the stage is huge yet accessible, and there's a large screen on which to project images. Last but not least, the sound at Samueli is robust and well-defined. Our only complaint is that not enough rock and electronic gigs get booked there.