Jam-Packed! A Fresh Guide to the Summer Music-Festival Scene

The crowd at the 2018 KROQ Weenie Roast. Photo by Christopher Victorio

There was a time when a festival was a rare, mystical occurrence that happened only once or twice a year when the stars aligned and the Gods of Suburbia saw fit to grant us something memorable to do with our weekend. These days, the festival scene can feel more like an in-fest-ation—usually in the most positive sense of the word. Though it’s now a year-round thing, there’s no arguing that summer is still king when it comes to outdoor antics. Who would’ve thought OC would be right at the center of it all, garnering more action than ever, from grassroots gatherings on the streets of Fullerton to three-day bacchanals at Doheny State Beach?

With festivals being the automatic template for live music outdoors, it’s no surprise we have more than our fair share. In an effort to keep your weekends jam-packed from June to September, we’ve compiled a list of the fests you can’t afford to miss. (Well, as long as you’ve put some money aside and perhaps extended a line of credit.)

Now that Coachella finally decided to acknowledge the Sunday Service (thanks, Kanye West), maybe you’re ready to see what a real religious festival is about. This full-day buffet of praise music, hosted by The Fish FM 95.9 and produced by Transparent Productions, draws more than 15,000 faithful and has been sold out for 11 years running. Headlined by Timberland-esque R&B and hip-hop polymath TobyMac, this year’s FishFest offers a wide range of your favorite Christian artists, from bearded rocker Zach Williams to bilingual Spanish pop duo Genessis & Nikki. You can also play games and meet some of your fellow Christian brethren. We’d say “hell yeah!” to that, but maybe we should go with “hallelujah!” instead. (Nate Jackson) At FivePoint Amphitheatre, 14800 Chinon, Irvine; thefishoc.com. June 1, 3 p.m. $19.59-$17.59. All ages.

The scene at a previous East End Bock Party. Photo by JJ Arcinas

Konsept collective’s annual collision of cultures prides itself on its grassroots platform giving local artists of all stripes a chance to shine. Occupying six stages with dozens of artists for a full day of music, the community-based, free event features a lineup curated by fellow collectives such as Top Acid, Feel Good Collective and Orange County Music League. This year offers a mix of everything from hip-hop to banda, from EDM to alternative rock. Whether you’re bouncing to rapper Hi-Tone or watching the crowd-surfing chaos during a performance by the Hurricanes, the youthful spirit of Santa Ana never fails to show up, show out and make some noise. (NJ) On Fourth Street, between Bush and French streets, Santa Ana; www.eastendblockparty.com. June 8, noon-10 p.m. All ages.

With two weekends scheduled months apart, Splash House almost seems as if it’s two different festivals. The Palm Springs fest’s first weekend (June 7-9) alone is shaping up to be the ultimate summer pool party. Shuttles will transport guests between three different resorts to experience performances from some of the most exciting electronic artists, including Jai Wolf, A-Trak and Low Steppa, plus a DJ set from French duo Justice. For those who don’t want the party to end, there will be an official after-hours event at the Palm Springs Air Museum each night, featuring Dom Dolla, Dusky, Kidnap and legendary house DJ Shiba San. With The best part? When this weekend ends, you can get ready to do it all over again in August. (Steve Donofrio) At multiple locations, Palm Springs; www.splashouse.com. June 7-9 & Aug. 9-11. See website for event times and ticket costs. 21+.

The yearly tradition that is the KROQ Weenie Roast is back in Orange County and ready to rock your hosiery off. From 1993 to 2019, this fest has been drawing crowds with its big-name lineups. This year’s includes the Lumineers, X Ambassadors and the Regrettes, all of whom promise to dominate the stage at the Weenie Roast’s new seaside venue, Doheny State Beach. The X Ambassadors bring more than rock to the stage as their passionate and blind keyboardist Casey Harris steals the show. And the fest recently announced the addition of DJ Snoopadelic (a.k.a. Snoop Dogg). Remember to bring your sandals and towels, but do leave your lawn chairs and rainbow beach umbrellas at home. All proceeds help charities such as the nonprofits Doheny State Beach Interpretive Association and Heal the Bay. (Lauren Galvan) At Doheny State Beach, 25300 Dana Point Harbor Dr., Dana Point; kroq.radio.com/weenieroast. June 8, 1 p.m. $99.99-$199.99. All ages.

Debuting in 1996, Smokin’ Grooves Fest is back for its second year after a 16-year hiatus at the Queen Mary Events Park. Hosted by Joe Kay, this year’s festival boasts a stellar lineup, with headliners Erykah Badu, Kali Uchis, Common and Usher. The soulful celebration fuses R&B and hip-hop in a one-day affair that has become a staple of Long Beach’s festival season. This revolutionary event was created by Kevin Morrow to give rap and soul acts a place onstage at a time when the Warped Tour reigned supreme. Smokin’ Grooves is family-friendly, allowing children younger than 5 in for free with the purchase of one adult ticket. (Morgan Edwards) At the Queen Mary Events Park, 1126 Queens Hwy., Long Beach; smokingroovesfest.com. June 15, 11 a.m. $150-$250. All ages.

The Muckenthaler is jamming to jazz every Thursday between May 23 and June 20. If you’re a fan of the genre at all, you won’t want to miss the final show, which pays tribute to the great Ray Charles. Combining blues with gospel styles while recording for Atlantic Records in the 1950s, Charles became an instant icon and hero. Former band members Paul Kreibich, Ricky Woodard and the Raelettes take the stage to play hits made popular by “The Genius of Soul.” This performance will make you want to get up and shake your tail feather. (ME) At the Muckenthaler Cultural Center, 1201 W. Malvern Ave., Fullerton; themuck.org. June 20, 7:30 p.m. $30-$150. All ages.

An in-store performance at Day of Music Fullerton 2018. Photo by John Gilhooley

The fifth-annual Day of Music Fullerton is bigger than ever, with more than 150 free concerts at 40 venues throughout the city. The event is happening in concert with Fte de la Musique, the World of Music day that is celebrated in more than 1,000 cities globally. Among the participating artists last year were Nelson Cade III, Skapeche Mode and Sunday Brunch, and expect more of the same in 2019, with sounds varying from jazz to ska to high-school orchestras.This year, places such as Mo’s Music and the Fullerton Community Center are home to such creatively titled events as Sousapalooza, Bands Undercover and Uke Can Do It. (LG) At various locations, Fullerton; www.thedayofmusic.com. June 21, noon-10 p.m. Free. All ages.

San Pedro finally gets the rough and rowdy festival it deserves. Gnarlytown rockets onto the festival scene through a ring of fire with a full day of “Bikes, Boards and Bands.” The inaugural event, presented by KLOS-FM 95.5, combines action sports and punk rock, with headliners Rancid and Pennywise along with Action Bronson, the death-defying Nitro Circus and skate legend Chris Cole’s Rail Jam invitational. You can also sample some of the region’s best brews at a craft-beer tasting area near the water. After all, combining the coast with chaos is something San Pedro does well. (NJ) At the LA Waterfront, Berth 46, 3011 Miner St., San Pedro; www.955klos.com/gnarlytown. June 22, 1 p.m. $49.99-$109.99 All ages.

With most big festivals competing over the same few dozen big headliners every year, it’s refreshing to find one that focuses on local artists. Featuring Bane’s World of Long Beach, James Supercave of Echo Park, Beach Bums of Los Angeles, Los Hurricanes of Santa Ana, and many more, Nothing Fest is a sort of United Nations for some of the surrounding music scenes. If you have any friends visiting from out of town this summer, consider giving them a crash course in Southern California music by taking them to this fest. And with three different stages, a bar for 21-and-older guests, and an abundance of space, the Garden Amp is the perfect venue for such an event. There will also be food and art vendors, an art installation from Chewing Foil, and live visuals by Monovision. (SD) At Garden Amp, 2762 Main St., Garden Grove; gardenamp.com. July 6, 2 p.m. $20-$25. All ages.

Every genre deserves its day in the sun. Kaskade’s annual celebration of all things EDM was expanded to two days last year, and Sun Soaked festival’s return to the Long Beach shoreline this year includes a dance party headlined by Kaskade himself. You’ll also find rapper Logic, a DJ set from alt-pop darling Grimes, singer Quinn XCII and a full lineup of DJs. The festival grounds will offer waterslides, sand sculptures and shade features to enhance the fan experience. But it’s not all about the untz-untz dance party: Leading up to the festival, Sun Soaked also hosts a weeklong series of free community events, including yoga classes, pro skateboarding exhibitions, a public skatepark, beach days with sand-castle building, and more. (NJ) At Alamitos Beach, 700 E. Shoreline, Long Beach; www.sunsoakedfest.com. July 13-14, 2 p.m. $150-$450. 18+.

Take the seminal post-hardcore bands from the Warped Tours of the 2000s, subtract all the weird predatory shit, then put them in a nice venue with seats, and you get Disrupt Festival. Such bands as the Used, Thrice and Atreyu were the soundtrack thousands of Southern California teens listened to as they straightened their hair and wore Toms without socks until they smelled so bad they had to be destroyed. Other bands performing at this energy-drink-sponsored fest include pop-punk icons Sum-41 and Four Year Strong, as well as progressive pioneers Circa Survive. Unlike most others, Disrupt features only one stage. While this does make for a long day/night, it also means fans won’t have to pick and choose which acts they want to see at the risk of missing anything. You can also expect meet-and-greets with some of the performing artists. (SD) At FivePoint Amphitheatre; rockstardisrupt.com. July 20, 1:30 p.m. $24.99-$160. All ages.

Celebrating Summertime in the LBC. Photo by Angel Grady

Long Beach has many things to be proud of, including native son Snoop Dogg headlining and selling out both days of the Once Upon a Time in the LBC festival. Snoop is there to drop it like it’s hot and ensure everyone gets a good contact high as he smokes through his decades of G-funk anthems. Among the other big names expected to perform are the Game, YG, and Bone Thugs N-Harmony. Since the festival originally sold out, a second day was added—and soon sold out also. Rain or shine, get ready to enjoy your love of the LBC with the whole family. (LG) At the Queen Mary Events Park; onceuponatimeinthelbc.com. July 27, 11 a.m. $100-$250. All ages.

Composer and performer Alceu Valenca headlines the 25th-annual Brazilian Summer Fest at the House of Blues. The Latin Grammy-nominated artist grew up around different parts of Brazil and embodies the spirit of Latin American music, giving a voice to both the cities and mountains. Once called the “Brazilian Bob Dylan,” his experiences add a rich depth to the span of his musical abilities and range. (ME) At the House of Blues at Anaheim GardenWalk, 400 W. Disney Way, Ste. 337, Anaheim; www.houseofblues.com/anaheim. Aug. 3, 7 p.m. $45. All ages.

Nobody believed 20 years ago that emo would be here to stay, nor did anyone believe it 10 years ago, but there are now music festivals focused on the genre, evidence that it’s much more than an angsty teenage phase. So bring out your guyliner and skinny jeans because Sad Summer Fest is all about letting your inner emo run wild. While some events focus more on artists of the past, Sad Summer offers a good mix of classic and newer bands, including the Maine, Mayday Parade, State Champs and Mom Jeans. The festival also partners with various nonprofits as it tours the country, so the emo kids have some positive effect on their community. (SD) At City National Grove, 2200 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim; www.sadsummerfest.com. Aug. 3, 1:30 p.m. $39.50. All ages.

Coming up on its 32nd year, the Long Beach Jazz Fest is one of the most established festivals on this list. Countless jazz and R&B greats have graced the event over the years, and 2019 will be no exception. The lineup includes conguero/band leader Poncho Sanchez, prolific guitarist Norman Brown, pianist/multi-instrumentalist Brian Culbertson and Cuban-jazz trumpet legend Arturo Sandoval, among others. (Some artists are yet to be announced, including a special guest to be divulged on June 8.) There will also be a wide selection of food and art vendors, as well as VIP upgrade options and cabana rentals. Mark your calendar for these three days in August, when Long Beach’s Rainbow Lagoon Park becomes an oasis for all things jazz. (SD) At Rainbow Lagoon Park, 300 E. Ocean Ave., Long Beach; longbeachjazzfestival.com. Aug. 9, 6 p.m.; Aug. 10-11, 1 p.m. $60-$200. All ages.

Goldenvoice gifts reggaeton lovers with a new festival: Dale Fuego Fest. The lineup features Ozuna, Anitta, Lary Over and others who might not be household names but are the premier papí chulos in the realm of reggaeton. Get ready to hear the fuego sounds of beautiful Brazilian artist Anitta, including “Bola Rebola” and “Terromoto.” The Brazilian singer/songwriter/actress/dancer has performed and created songs with such big-name singers as Becky G and Snoop Dogg. Plus, from the Queen Mary Events Park, fest-goers can look upon the great LBC as they twerk to their hearts’ content. (LG) At the Queen Mary Events Park; dalefuegofest.com. Sat., Aug. 10, noon. $125-$4,500. All ages.

The summer highlight for hip-hop fans takes the form of a typical radio concert and explodes it into one of the biggest events of its kind. Featuring A$AP Rocky, Future, Migos, queen diva Cardi B and many more, the massive festival transforms the Honda Center as it celebrates hip-hop’s sounds, street art and lifestyle. In addition to three stages of music are a number of immersive and interactive VR experiences, art installations, live murals, an artist alley, a vendor village, the California Love Thunderdome, Big Boy’s Neighborhood, and a car show. With living legends such as 2Chainz and up-and-comers including Trippie Redd and HB’s own Yung Pinch, expect to achieve maximum lit-ness. (NJ) At the Honda Center, 2695 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim; realstreetfest.com. Aug. 10-11, noon. $99-$9,000. All ages.

Over the past two years, as local music event Happy Sundays progressively built its buzz on the streets of Long Beach, no doubt local music fans appreciated a full day of live music scattered through a garden of beloved venues and public spaces—LBC’s own version of SXSW. But few probably realized the heart of it beat from a dining-room table in the house of Scott and Julia Montoya, smack-dab in the middle of the Zaferia District. This year’s festival is once again spread across several venues, from Alex’s Bar to the Red Leprechaun, with free shows by the likes of Prettiest Eyes, Sunny War, Neil Hamburger and a slew of SoCal bands. As a precursor to the big event, check out the open-air showcase at Retro Row on Fourth Street with the Nectarines, Winter and King Flamingo on July 21. (NJ) At multiple locations, Long Beach; happysundayslbc.com. Aug. 25, 2 p.m. Free. Most shows are 21+.

Are you ready to travel the world in one weekend? You won’t have to go far from home to appreciate cultures from around the globe, as the Orange International Street Fair takes over the Plaza. Now in its 48th year, this fair celebrates diversity while bringing the community closer through musical showcases, food vendors, and a plethora of activities for the whole family. Get ready to dance and eat some amazing dishes at a beloved Orange County tradition. (ME) Off Chapman Avenue and Glassell Street, Orange; orangestreetfair.org. Aug. 30-Sept. 1, 10 a.m. Free. All ages.

When Cure front man Robert Smith builds a dream team, it’s perfection. In addition to the Cure, expect performances from the Pixies, Mogwai and the Deftones at the Pasadena Daydream Festival. This show also marks the 30th anniversary of the first time the Cure and the Pixies shared a stage. The Cure is also set to release a documentary following their 2018 tour circuit later this year, so you’ll get the chance to see them live before going behind the scenes. A dollar from every ticket goes to arts-education organizations and local charities, including Free Arts for Abused Children and Inner-City Arts. (ME) At Brookside Golf & Country Club, 1133 Rosemont Ave., Pasadena; pasadenadaydream.com. Aug. 31, 1 p.m. $149-$299. All ages.

Though technically KAABOO is a little outside our jurisdiction, driving to this San Diego fest with a nonsensical name sounds perfectly reasonable when you look at its stacked lineups. Covering all bases from trap to country and offering a variety of immersive art and food experiences, there’s something for everyone. Nashville rock veterans Kings of Leon, live-music icons Dave Matthews Band, and British folk-rock mega-stars Mumford & Sons will headline on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, respectively. They will be joined by a roster of cross-genre hit-makers including Duran Duran, Sheryl Crow, Mark Ronson, REO Speedwagon, Maren Morris, the Bangles, Squeeze, the Cult, Silversun Pickups, Black Eyed Peas, Boyz II Men, and a special collaboration between Snoop Dogg and Wu-Tang Clan in celebration of the 25th anniversary of their respective landmark albums Doggystyle and Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). It’s all held in the confines of Del Mar Race Track, so if you’re gonna take a gamble on one event at this venue, it should probably be this. (NJ) At Del Mar Race Track + Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar; www.kaaboodelmar.com. Sept. 13, 2 p.m.-12:30 a.m.; Sept. 14, noon-12:30 a.m.; Sept. 15, noon-9 p.m. $339-$3,999. All ages

The stage at Ohana Fest 2018. Photo by John Gilhooley

Ohana may mean family to many people, but in this case it translates to rocking out while hanging out by the beach. This year’s three-day festival returns for its fourth year with Friday headliners the Strokes offering classic songs such as “Reptilia” and “Last Nite.” The weekend finishes with a band that might make you melt: the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Sponsored by quite a few big names, such as Toyota, Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Hydro Flask, the Ohana Festival is known for unforgettable performances by Jack Johnson and fest co-founder Eddie Vedder. If you’re 21 or older, be sure to grab your choice of craft beer or signature cocktail to close out the summer festival season with a toast! (LG) At Doheny State Beach; www.ohanafest.com. Sept. 27, 1 p.m.; Sept. 28-29, noon. $128-$1,350. All ages.

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