Top 10 OC Shows of Summer 2012

Mayer Hawthorne
Mayer Hawthorne
Jackie Connor / OC Weekly
The only thing tougher than realizing that yet another summer concert season has come and gone is taking the time to sort all the best moments together an relive them in numerical order. For us, the difficulty of the latter usually means that we got to experience enough slam-dancing, chorus-shouting, encore-playing, glow stick-twirling, clothes-shedding, ear drum-bursting bacchanalia to cram into an entire year, let alone three months. But every diehard concert goer knows that no matter how much fun you had between June and early September, there are a handful of sweat-drenched musical moments that stand in a class by themselves. And typically, those shows are defined by the ability of an artists and a crowd to collectively let go of reality and elevate each other to a state of mind where oppressive heat, long lines and overpriced water bottles are no longer a factor. 

Looking back at our summer in the pit, we've come up with a list of 10 festivals and concerts in OC that were able to do just that.

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10. Vans Warped Tour - The Great Park - June 21, 2012
Jordan Pudnik of New Found Glory helping us relive our middle school pop punk obsession
Jordan Pudnik of New Found Glory helping us relive our middle school pop punk obsession
Jackie Connor / OC Weekly

The Vans Warped Tour made its first appearance in Irvine's quiet city for a day of teen angst, pogo-jumping pop punk, throat-shredding hardcore and a side of hip-hop. Braces and teenage awkwardness ran rampant throughout the Great Park's nine-stage set up while sounds pounded out of car-sized speaker set ups. And Despite the Irvine City Council nearly shitting their pants over the festival's percieved threat to the tranquil park and local residents, it appears we all miraculously survived. Aside from getting a long-awaited fix of nostalgic pop punk courtesy of New Found Glory, some sweet mosh pits a la Anti-Flag and acoustic story telling from Ataris frontman Kristopher Roe, we also got to hear what the kids (literally) are listening to these days.--Jackie Connor

9. Young the Giant - Pacific Amphitheater - July 22, 2012

Hey ma! We made it!
Hey ma! We made it!
Matt Oliver / OC Weekly

For a local music fan who might never spend money on a ticket to see Adam Lambert or Three Dog Night, the sole reason for the Pacific Amphitheater's existence is to welcome the return of bands who've gone out into the record industry wilderness and come back rockstars. And if you can pack that sucker, then by god, you've made it. Not only did Young the Giant manage to fill every seat in the brisk night air of the OC Fair venue, but these OC Weekly cover boys knew exactly how to handle the audience during their July performance.Reaching the end of their summer tour, the band (supported by Fullerton faves the Steelwells) was as confident as if they were playing just a few miles away at their old Detroit Bar stomping grounds.--Nate Jackson

  8. Quicksand - The Glass House - June 10, 2012

We know that running into Quicksand is usually a surprise, but this was really a surprise!
We know that running into Quicksand is usually a surprise, but this was really a surprise!
Andrew Youssef / OC Weekly


Revelation Records celebrated their 25th anniversary with a four- night stint at the Glass House featuring seminal hardcore kings Gorilla Biscuits, Youth of Today, Sick of it All and an assortment of bands that have been affiliated with the record label over the years. The final night featured a "special guest" that turned out to be none other than 90's post-hardcore metal-tinged band, Quicksand. It has been almost fifteen years since Walter Schreifels, Tom Capone, Sergio Vega and Alan Cage collectively formed the brash, New York quartet. We will never forget the first time we saw their video for "Fazer" on Headbangers Ball on MTV in the early '90s. We immediately went to the record store and picked up their debut album Slip. Armed with slashing chord progressive riffing and old-school aggression, the surprise appearance that set off a short stint of summer touring for the band made this Glass House gig one for the books.--Andrew Youssef

7. Caifanes - Honda Center - June 2, 2012
Odelay, sax man!
Odelay, sax man!
Matt Oliver / OC Weekly

 
Blaring guitar riffs, classic ballads, soulful saxophone solos, nostalgic keytar melodies and high-strung vocals all backed by an arena choir.  Barely a year after reuniting at Coachella 2011, Caifanes stormed into the Honda Center in Anaheim in early June to deliver their iconic brand of rock en español. Whenever frontman Saul Hernandez raised his hand in front of the massive audience, the crowd yelled in praise. The sea of people wearing Caifanes shirts, free-falling 1990's-era rock hair and jean jackets turned into a tsunami set to destruct. With Caifanes flags and Mexican flags raised high, index and pinkies pointed to the sky, you would have thought the late, legendary JC Fandango returned from the dead.  

6. The Hives - The Observatory - September 11, 2012

The Hives deliver a raucous taste of Sweden
The Hives deliver a raucous taste of Sweden
John Gilhooley / OC Weekly


Though it's a little outside the scope of the traditional season, few things capture the rocket-propelled energy of a summer heat show quite like the Hives who greeted us with the same throat-shredding, punk rock nihlism of their Coachella set last April. The Observatory, known for being an intimate venue with a quality sound system and security that lets performers and audiences engage each other pretty unrestricted, was the perfect place for one of rock's best live acts to unleash all their greatness. Lead vocalist Howlin' Pelle Almqvist leaped onto speakers, jived as he thrusted his mic stand and shouted into his microphone with jokes and banter in typical Hives fashion. His brother guitarist Nicholaus Arson followed suit - literally as all band members were dressed in penguin like tuxedos with top hats and shiny shoes - with similar stage antics which lasted throughout the entire 90-minute set. --Alejandra Loera

 
5. Iron Maiden - Verizon Wireless Amphitheater - August 9, 2012
Run to the hills!
Run to the hills!
Andrew Youssef / OC Weekly


Southern California is a second home for the British heavy metal legends, Iron Maiden. Their classic live album, Live After Death was recorded at the Long Beach Arena. It is chalk full of Bruce Dickinson's orders to the crowd that they "Scream for me Long Beach!" A super sold out Verizon Wireless Amphitheater made Dickinson proud when they maniacally screamed as the lights went out. Utilizing a stage setup from their Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album era, fireworks exploded onstage and so did Iron Maiden. It was an unrelenting visual and auditory assault of seventeen songs that were performed by a band that seemingly get even better with age.--Andrew Youssef

4. KISS and Motley Crue - Verizon Wireless Amphitheater - August 14, 2012

Lick it Up!
Lick it Up!
Andrew Youssef / OC Weekly

In August, the very idea of KISS and Motley Crue together in concert was almost enough to make our heads explode. Rightfully dubbed "The Tour", both behemoth bands unpacked their over-the-top concert antics to destroy the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. A giant black KISS scrim obscured the whole stage eventually fell to the ground as the dueling guitars of "Detroit Rock City" rattled your eardrums as the members of KISS descended from a platform from the top of the stage. Most of the crowd who hadn't lost their voice still screamed the lyrics to "Shout It Out Loud" as lead vocalist and guitarist Paul Stanley strutted across the stage only like he can. Gene Simmons still looks menacing in his demon persona stomping his huge platform boots while plucking away at his puny bass during "I Love It Loud." While I've always been partial to Ace Frehley, guitarist Tommy Thayer still holds it down on his Gibson Les Paul blazing through the riff from "Firehouse." --Andrew Youssef

  3. Pacific Festival: The Dunes - September 2, 2012
You know you've made when you carry your own bobblehead on stage
You know you've made when you carry your own bobblehead on stage
Jackie Connor / OC Weekly

Pacific Festival, which moved its party out of Oak Canyon Ranch to the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort and Marina, took plenty of risks this year by revamping their third annual summer fling. Those who went to last year's bacchanal remember a very different picture, one where mammoth headliners like Snoop Dogg, Ghostland Observatory and Cut Copy commanded several stages and a lot more people. It's odd to think that a festival brand might be seen as taking a risk by scaling back, but this year's party appeared to do it right, despite the natural habitat of cliche OC snobbery that can sometimes accompany a ritzy location like the Dunes. But any comparisons to an episode of MTV's "Laguna Beach" washed away as the sun went down.

Headliner Mayer Hawthorne's reputation as a seamlessly charismatic performer may have been earned during his recently-wrapped world tour with his band the County, but it was learned right here in OC. Some may remember Hawthorne playing his first live show ever at the Continental Room in Fullerton, shuffling and sweet-talking on a cramped lounge-style stage surrounded by a packed house. Two years later, returning to headline on of the most buzzed-about festivals of the summer was an impressive, full-circle move.--Nate Jackson


2. Hootenanny

It's never too hot to start a mosh pit
It's never too hot to start a mosh pit
Jackie Connor / OC Weekly

The hot sun was no match for greasers and cowboys who drove out to God's country to partake in some classic rockabilly and punk music at the 18th annual Hootenanny at Oak Canyon Ranch in Silverado Canyon on Saturday. Though there was no question what type of scene this was (read: cherry sundresses and Pomade), the overall crowd vibe created a fun, energetic time warp that's become an indelible part of summer in Orange County. Any lingering angst was surely taken out in one of the dozen circle pits the three stages had to offer. The pairing rollicking legends like the Reverend Horton Heat paired with the psychedelic surf rock of the Growlers and the long-awaited return of Bay Area punk legends Rancid made this year a definite game changer for this annual OC hoedown.--Jackie Connor

  1. Doheny Days: Day 2 - Doheny State Beach - September 9, 2012

Do you realize...how awesome this show was?
Do you realize...how awesome this show was?
Jay Blakesberg

This year, Doheny Days stepped up it's game big time by supplying a two-day festival that the epitomized the idea of bringing area-worthy headliners to a festival that didn't feel over crowded or overloaded with acts. Headlined by Jane's Addiction and the Flaming Lips, this weekend at the beach made the drive down to the depths of South County well worth the trip. While day one was heartily impressive, on Sunday The Flaming Lips elevated the festival to it's zenith, bringing out stage props, from the expected giant bubble to large hands, light shows, colorful cannons and giant balloons packed to the brim with confetti. Stremers the stage and the massive audience in carni-like fashion. Lead singer Wayne Coyne even had a video camera attached to his microphone to show an enlarged fish-eye view of his face behind the band, which gave way to very animated expressions, tears included.--Jackie Connor

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