Matt Costa is another one of those cute boys with an acoustic guitar playing cute songs for cute girls who think he's cute—but not justanother one of them. There's something more to the equation, which is why this is about the squillionth time in the past year that Huntington Beach's folk sensation has been mentioned in the Weekly. Although a swift bout of mounting quasi-fame—appearances at every major summer music festival and sold-out shows throughout North America and halfway around the world—is quickly approaching, well, full-blown fame, he's not there yet. In other words, we're still not sick of him. His favorite places in the OC:
Hidden Valley Park. Located on the bluff that extends down into the Santa Ana riverbed, this serene land—now popular with BMX riders—has been set aside by the city because it is an ancient Native American burial ground. “Uh, it's actually not as exciting as it sounds. It's just kind of a park, but it's never been developed because it's supposedly a sacred place,” says Costa. “Lots of artifacts are still found there, but I'll go there just to walk around. I filmed the first video I ever did just walking around there for 'Songs We Sing' with three of my friends—it's just a really peaceful place. I mean, other than the bodies that are found there.” Beach Blvd. and Adams St., Huntington Beach.
Mitch Townsend's house.When Matt can't find Harris Pittman, the bassist in his band, he heads for the house of his lead guitarist, who loves to throw barbecues when the band's not on the road. Then there's the male stripper, who lived there in the '80s and still haunts the place. Costa's not the only one who thinks so. Members of Rage Against the Machine used to live in the house and claim they saw the ghost walking around one night—wearing a G-string. “The ghost is a guy who supposedly killed himself,” Costa says. “I don't know. Harris told me it was haunted. And that you can hear stuff at night.” One more thing. “There's always lots of booze there,” says Matt. “No shortage of that. Ever.”
Adventure City.Costa remembers his first visit to this kitschy little amusement park in Stanton, just up the road from Knott's. “I was really freaked out because they had the largest collection of Cabbage Patch Kids I've ever seen,” he says. “It was just so bizarre—I remember kind of liking it and kind of being freaked out by it. Actually, I still don't know how I feel about it. Except I like that there's just no hype around the place.” 1238 S. Beach Blvd., Stanton, (714) 527-2323.
Whittier High School. “It's where Biff's dad gets knocked out by McFly!” says Costa, referring to the prom scene in 1985's Back to the Future, which was filmed here. “When I used to skate, we used to go to a bunch of high schools everywhere—all around—San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego. And I visited Whittier one day and was looking at it and I was thinking that it looked really familiar. And when I put everything together, I was like, 'Holy shit! Back to the Future!'” 12417 Philadelphia St., Whittier, (562) 698-8121.
RVCA.An artist and music enclave under the guise of a clothing company, this outfit has come a long way since its official launch in 2000 by designer PM Tenore. The brand, so recently limited to specialty stores like Huntington Surf N Sport or the Closet, is now featured at clothiers as mainstream as Nordstrom. “They're just really good people—the hardest-working people in Costa Mesa,” Costa says. “Someone told them that I make music, and they checked it out. And we've been creative together since.” Also? “If it wasn't for them, I'd be naked.” 919 Sunset Dr., Costa Mesa, (949) 548-6223.
Fiesta Grill. We've all got our favorite inexpensive-yet-satisfying taqueras. Costa's got two, and they've got the same name. “When I'm out on the road, I'll dream about this place. Literally, I'll dream about the place. It's that good. And when I'm back home, I'll call up Mitch and Harris and we'll have lunch dates there. We'll even talk about it on the road,” Costa says. “And you can do your laundry right next to it. I don't. But I'm sure you could.” 19484 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach, (714) 968-0777; also at 418 17th St., Huntington Beach, (714) 969-7689.
1,000 Steps Beach.With its blue waters, tidepools, rocky cliffs and, uhh, prime makeout location, this is a local favorite—that is, if you can find it. A long stairway just north of Catalina Street leads you down the bluff to the beach. And though it may seemlike 1,000 steps, particularly on the trip back up, many people put it closer to something like 227. “It's just like being in Hawaii . . . in Orange County,” says Costa. “It's a little vacation just down PCH.” NinthSt. and Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach.
Shane Gooding.A fellow singer/songwriter from Huntington Beach, Gooding's folk and blues—and his rock N roll with the group Patients—have made him prominent on the OC scene. “I've seen him play in Long Beach or at the Alta Coffeehouse in Newport. He's really good and anyone who sees his name should go check it out—they won't be disappointed. They'll probably be blown away.” www.myspace.com/shanegooding or www.shanegooding.net.
Edwards University Theater.“What other places in Orange County have indie films like they do? It's pretty much the best thing that's come out of the whole Irvine Co. foundation since it started. Andit's right next to In-N-Out.” 4245 Campus Dr., Irvine, (949) 854-8811.
John Wayne Airport. When you travel as much as Costa does, a small, uncrowded, local airport like John Wayne Airport can be a blessing. “The terrorist-threat level is way lower too,” Costa jokes. “But once it all goes down at LAX, people are just going to be flockingto John Wayne.” Beyond that, a friend of his father once hid behind the John Wayne statue and did an impression of the Duke that was so good it made a kid break down in tears. 18601 Airport Way, Santa Ana, (949) 252-5200.