Time to grab a big ‘ol bottle of sunscreen (and your flask that looks like a big ‘ol bottle of sunscreen), because summer festival season is now upon us. This time of year only seems to get longer thanks to the array of multi-faceted aural playgrounds from May to September that service crowds of granola-crunching hippies, hip-hop heads, EDM party people, psychobilly badasses and everyone in between. Though we’re not sure it’s humanly possible for anyone to visit all of these events, you should already be planning your next three months of festival madness. We’re sure this list will continue to grow in the coming weeks. But for now, here’s a list of the best fests happening in OC and beyond.
Like Totally 80s Festival
Ladies, dust off that old can of Aqua Net hairspray and fellas, make sure to take that Don Johnson-esque white blazer to the cleaners before this weekend’s Like Totally 80s Fest. Whip it back to the era of pop, new wave, glam metal, old school hip-hop and of course MTV. Boogie down to live 80’s acts such as The Motels, A Flock of Seagulls, Dramarama, Naked Eyes, Clive Farrington of When In Rome and Annabella Lwin of Bow Wow Wow. Legendary SoCal DJ, Richard Blade, will also be in the mix pumping out Regan-era classics. Head to the after party across the street at the Underground DTSA to drunkenly dance to the sounds of ‘80s cover band, Flashback Heart Attack, the three-time winners of our Best Live Band award. Finally, an excuse to wear red leather again. (Denise De La Cruz)
Sat. May 21, The Yost Theater 307 N. Spurgeon St. Santa Ana. $25, All ages.
Doheny Blues Festival
The blues is typically a depressed feeling that starts in a person’s gut and quickly engulfs their entire body—but it’s nearly impossible to feel that way when you’re in Dana Point staring at the Pacific Ocean on a sunny weekend afternoon. Especially when you’re chilling in your lawn chair sipping an ice cold brew listening to Lynryrd Skynyrd, Brian Setzer, Aaron Neville in shorts and flip-flops. Seriously, what do you have to be blue about? (Nate Jackson)
Sat.-Sun. May 21-22, Doheny State Beach, 25300 Dana Point Dr. Dana Point. $60-$230. All ages.
Lightning in a Bottle
LiB’s annual festival in Bradley, CA combines electronic music with performance art, yoga classes, guest speakers and Burning Man-esque art installations. Heading into its 11th year with over 70 acts on the bill, the festival headliners include Australian neo-soul singer/songwriter Chet Faker, Canadian indie pop dynamo Grimes, London’s Jamie xx (of The xx fame) and others. In addition to the main headliners, Modeselektor and Apparat join forces to become Berlin’s electronica trio Moderat, English post-rock electronic artist Four Tet will take the stage along with a return for the amazing Norwegian producer and remix-master Cashmere Cat, the sultry horn play of Boulder, Colorado’s Big Gigantic, plus one of LIB’s favorite residents often described as the World’s Funkiest Diplomat, The Polish Ambassador (who is actually from California…go figure). (NJ)
May 25-30, Lake San Antonio Recreation Area, 2610 San Antonio Rd., Bradley. Sold Out. All ages.
Imagine a summer festival with the usual head-spinning lineup of top-selling artists, but without the scalding heat, baking port-a-potties and standing-room-only space. Welcome Power 106’s Powerhouse! The impressive lineup includes Chance the Rapper, YG, DJ Mustard, Big Sean, E40, Joey Bad A$$, Too Short, Fat Joe, Remy Ma and many more. And what else? It’s held inside the air-conditioned Honda Center, complete with actual running-water restrooms and reserved seats with ticket purchase. Isn’t that novel? But if you still crave the unavoidable sunburn from watching bands atop melting asphalt, then get to the venue early for the Powerhouse Festival, a parking lot party starting at 2 p.m. with live performances from Problem, King Lil G, Trinidad James and a horde of surprise up-and-coming acts. Don’t forget the sunscreen. (Erin DeWitt)
Sat. June 3, Honda Center, 2695 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim. $55-$515. All ages.
Newport Beach Jazz Festival
Rarely do the words “three day music festival” and “smooth” belong in the same sentence. But in the case of the Newport Beach Jazz Festival, they’re a perfect match. Boasting the top Smooth Jazz artists in the country, the Hyatt Regency Hotel’s most popular event of the year returns for a full weekend of velvety sounds featuring Michael McDonald (the Sheepdog of Soul!), Jonathan Fritzén and Vincent Ingala, Peter White, Paul Taylor, and host of legendary names etched into the hearts of those who listen to 94.7 FM The Wave. And unlike most three-day festivals, you won’t have to worry about ripping your shirt in the mosh pit or stepping over puke and empty beer cups. It’s what we like to call a “classy affair.” (Nate Jackson)
Fri.-Sun. June 3-5 Hyatt Regency Newport Beach 1107 Jamboree Rd., Newport Beach. $60-$130. All ages.
OC Punk Invasion 2K16
Snarl, thrash and fill the pit during this year’s OC Punk Invasion 2K16. Welcome back American hardcore greats, A Global Threat, as they reunite since breaking up nearly 10 years ago. English anarcho-punk legends, Conflict will provide some much needed punk politics in these dark times of Drumpf. Long Beach’s own Clit 45 along with The Forgotten, Homesick Abortions, Death March and Grand Collapse will have your adrenaline pumping on overload. (DDLC)
Sun. June 19, The Observatory, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana. $20 All-Ages.
East End Block Party
There’s nothing like strolling through Downtown SanTana on a sunny afternoon in June, add some live music and art to that mix and you’ve got yourself a perfect summer’s day! The hip-hop heads over at Konsept and Beat Swapmeet have joined forces with the indie rock curators at Top Acid and the Orange County Music League to bring out the best musicians Orange County has to offer. Expect local vendors, eateries and giveaways too, what more could you ask for? (DDLC)
Sat. June 11, 4th & Spurgeon St.,Santa Ana. Free. All Ages.
Long Beach Jazz Fest
There are fewer things better than kicking back and relaxing to jazz in Long Beach under the deep summer sky. Once again, legions of jazz fans will descend unto Rainbow Lagoon Park to hear the sounds of jazz and R&B artists like Michael Franks, Jeffrey Osborne and a dual headlining set by Dave Koz and David Sanborn. Now in its 29th edition, the Long Beach Jazz Fest shows no signs of slowing down, and like a carefully conducted song, only gets better as the years wear on. (Daniel Kohn)
Fri.-Sun June 12-14, Rainbow Lagoon Park, E. Shoreline Dr., Long Beach. $55-$200. All ages.
Day of Music Fullerton
With a motto like “performed by anyone, enjoyed by everyone,” Fullerton’s Day of Music is expected to offer a friendly, non-pretentious environment, all in the name of community and good vibes. Celebrate the kick off to summer and the longest day of the year by attending or even coordinating your own pop-up concert in any public space all throughout the city of Fullerton. (DDLC)
Tues. June 21 ,All of Fullerton (see website for concert details). Free. All ages.
Slam dancing is a recreational activity that was created for everyone to enjoy. That’s the primary reason why multi-cultural fest Viva Pomona exists. This wild party drawing bands from all parts of SoCal and Latin America is enough to break down the sonic and phonic barriers that allow punk legends like Alice Bag to share the same stage as Los Blenders from Mexico or Latin psych-rock darlings Chicano Batman and rockabilly-tinged garage punks Shannon and the Clams. Built on a raucous foundation of local psych bands since it started in 2011, VP! continues growing into a formidable festival in its fifth year in the heart of Downtown Pomona’s Arts District. Boasting a mix of gabacho badasses and Latino bands looking to break into America, the fest seizes cultural relevancy by unifying the crowd with adventurous sounds this year…and plenty of “Fuck Trump!” chants from the crowd. (NJ)
Sat.- Sun. July 16-17, $20 per day. The Glass House, 200 W. 2nd St., Pomona. All ages.
The past few years on a political level have not been kind to HARD Summer. The event has gradually moved farther away from the area (Fontana?!), which has caused LA fans some logistical headaches. However, the event is still quite a draw. Straddling the line between its dance music roots and its mainstream ambitions, this year’s lineup will feature a strong balance between hip-hop acts and traditional HARD acts. On top of headliners Ice Cube and Major Lazer, the deep festival lineup continues to be one of the best summer events in Southern California. (DK)
Sat. & Sun. July 30-31. Auto Club Speedway Southern California, 9300 Cherry Ave., Fontana . $99-$149. 18+.
Considering that we’ve lost some good OC rockabilly festivals in recent years, it’s nice to see a great one pop up in a new location. This year, the So-Cal Hoedown descends on Downtown Santa Ana, taking over four city blocks, five different clubs and a bill that’ll make you say Hootenanny who? Ink-n-what? Wanda Jackson headlines a full day of outlaw artists from Nekromantix and Throw Rag to Shooter Jennings and The Blasters. Between the Yost, The Ritz, Diego’s, Underground DTSA and Festival Hall, the entire circuit of SanTana venues are in on this thing. The main stage will be outside with two additional indoor stages. There will be a lowbrow art exhibit, a pinup contest, and two burlesque shows. This is one pompadour party you’re not gonna want to miss. (NJ)
Sat. August 13, Downtown Santa Ana, $20-$55. All ages.
The Ohana Festival
The first Ohana Festival EVER makes its debut at the Doheny State Beach in Dana Point on August 27th and 28th. Wait, that’s the same weekend as FYF in Los Angeles—do I sense the beginning of an OC/LA music fest war? While Ohana is still a fresh to the music festival circuit it shows some serious potential to become a music festival heavyweight with headliners such as grunge legend Eddie Vedder, indie -pop goddess, Lana Del Rey and the godfather of new wave and punk, Elvis Costello. There’ll be no summertime sadness here as you catch some live tunes under the sun and enjoy the coastal breeze. (DDLC)
Sat.-Sun. August 27-28 $99.50-$499. All ages. Doheny State Beach. Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point.
Los Angeles’ own mini-Coachella returns to Exposition Park with a line-up more enticing than any other Southern California mega festival this year. Following in the tradition of past FYF lineups, an eclectic mix of mainstream legends and rising new-comers encompass this year’s festival. Rap heads can blaze and head bob to Kendrick Lamar while indie rock hipsters can trip out to psych rockers Tame Impala. Fashion icon and ’80s songstress, Grace Jones is sure to slay along with what seems to be everyone’s favorite band this summer, LCD Soundsystem. (DDLC)
Sat.-Sun. August 27-28. 700 Exposition Park Dr, Los Angeles. $125-$339. All ages.
Long Beach Psyclone
As one of the last summer festivals, Long Beach Psyclone continues to be the place to see killer psychobilly and rockabilly. The festival is celebrating its fifth year in style. Taking place on Labor Day weekend, the only thing we know about the event as of press time is that the host will be fetish model Emily Marilyn. Lineup withstanding, we have the utmost confidence that the festival organizers will put out a killer lineup to mark this momentous year. (DK)
Labor Day Weekend (September 1-4). Seaport Marina Hotel 6400 E. Pacific Coast Hwy. All ages. $10 (Night 1 pass)-$120 (VIP weekend pass).
Indie rap back-packers, beat heads and trap rap aficionados! Gather around for the 5th annual DIY Fest which takes over the Glass House and Acerogami—that stylish dive bar adjacent to the Glass House. This year’s lineup is yet to be announced—since local talent are still competing to fill up open slots, but if last year’s lineup is any indicator of what to expect then as many as 30 plus performers hailing from the LA, OC and IE hip-hop scenes will perform on two stages. Try not to get stuck on the mind-bending projections by Major Gape. (DDLC)
Sat. September 3, The Glass House 200 W. 2nd St, Pomona. $15. All ages.
Long Beach Folk Revival Festival
This fest turns Rainbow Lagoon Park into something between Nashville, Joshua Tree and Guy Clark’s living room. With a lineup of local and national musicians celebrating styles of Americana old, new and true, it’s the kind of countrified day out that’s been missing for too long. This year’s lineup includes The White Buffalo, Chuck Ragan, JD McPherson, local favorites Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys, as well as a surprise headliner to be announced on June 28. (NJ)
Sat. September 17, Rainbow Lagoon Park, E. Shoreline Dr., Long Beach. $35-$70. All ages.
It’s not quite summer unless you’ve spent a day outdoors sweating through your finest ’50s threads in the name of The Reverend Horton Heat. Rockabilly’s king of festival season returns to San Pedro for the 3rd annual Horton’s Hayride. This year’s lineup includes 15 acts hosted and headlined by Heat, along with The Bouncing Souls, Manic Hispanic, Junior Brown, El Vez and more. Kustom Kulture gets cranked up to full blast during classic car and hot rod contests, burlesque shows, food trucks and plenty of pomade to go around. (NJ)
Sat. September 17, Berth 46 at The Port of Los Angeles, 3600 Miner St., San Pedro, All ages.
We’ll probably never understand the name of this Del Mar festival. And that’s fine…in any language, KAABOO translates into “big ass concert full of headliners.” How else do you describe this oversized bill of major artists topped by Aerosmith, Jimmy Buffet, Fall Out Boy and Jack Johnson? With just about every genre of popular music represented (and a comedy lineup that’ll make any fan of stand-up cream their pants), it’s hard not to find something to like about this three-day festival. Except for the fact that it has to end. (NJ)
Fri.-Sun. 9-16-18, Del Mar Fairgrounds, $279-$2,499. All Ages.
Ozzfest Meets Knotfest
When the unholy alliance of Ozzy Osbourne and Slipknot decided to merge their festivals together, the cheers you heard were from concertgoers who didn’t have to double down on their concert cash. Back in the States for the first time in nearly six years, Ozzfest found the right partner to pass the hard rock festival torch to. Black Sabbath and Slipknot may be the organizers and big names on the bill, but bands like Megadeth, Slayer, Disturbed, Opeth, Anthrax and local rockers Rival Sons will be in San Bernardino to melt faces all weekend. (DK)
Sat.-Sun. September 24-25 Tickets go on sale Friday, May 20. San Manuel Amphitheater, 2575 Glen Helen Pkwy., San Bernardino. All ages.
Music Tastes Good
The lineup for the first annual Music Tastes Good Festival presented by 89.9 KCRW FM was announced over the weekend, including sets from The Specials, Iron and Wine and Sylvan Esso. Approximately 50 national and local acts will converge on downtown Long Beach September 23-25 for what appears to be an eclectic, mini Coachella that promises to garner one of the city’s biggest festival audiences in recent memory. (NJ)
Fri-Sun. 9/23-25, 635 Pine Ave., Long Beach. $25-$75. All ages.