What’s the Best Part of Being an OC Music Journalist?

Last week, you got to listen to us bitch and moan about the plight of being a journalist in the OC music scene. We might have come off a little harsh in our assessment. And we were probably a little drunk. Even though there was plenty of truth to the frustrations we vented, we can’t deny the fact that OC is still one hell of a place to be an alt-weekly music scribe. We can see you snickering. But it’s true! Just ask some of the dedicated journos who are out here every day and night hammering out blog posts and concert reviews and tracking down the stories that highlight the bold, innovative, fucked up charm that makes OC’s sonic landscape a thing of beauty. Here’s our  take on the best parts of being an OC music journalist. 

Finding a secret spot at our favorite local venues
Yes, there’s no question the Observatory is the top dog when it comes to local venues. But sometimes, getting a good view can be a bitch. However, if you go there as much as we do, you start to learn a few tricks to make your sight line a whole lot better. If you’re in The Constellation Room snag a spot on the cushy faux leather, which you can later stand on once the room fills up. In the main venue, there is a ramp leading to the front left of the stage. Security will enforce the ramp to remain clear. But the second the headliner assumes the stage, you should quickly and discretely claim your space at the top of the ramp otherwise known as the apex. Here there is a triangle that forms a ‘seat’, perfect for two booties to enjoy the view.(Taylor Morgan)

Camaraderie between OC musicians and music journalists
The best part about Orange County’s music scene is that it’s a tight knit community of talented people who want to support other locals. Even bands that aren’t necessarily small enough to be considered a “local band” anymore will still come together in the name of something they believe in, like the Weekly. The best example of this was my last interview with The Vandals, one of Orange County’s legendary punk bands. Their performance at Coachella is going to be one of the only shows they play this year, but because they have jobs, kids, wives and aren’t putting out new material, the punkers believe there’s no real reason to do interviews anymore. Yet, in the name of the Weekly, the band came together to do an interview for us. The most memorable moment of the interview came at the very end, when Joe Escalante said that it was probably going to be the last interview The Vandals ever do. Now that is pretty cool! (Mary Carreon)

The growth of major local events
Not too long ago, the only events that drew outsiders to OC were the big concerts at Irvine Meadows. Not anymore. Local festivals like Burgerama and Beach Goth have infused an excitement that extends beyond traditional headliners. Now attendees are spoiled by a regular smorgasbord of local and national talent that come to town just to play our festivals. These events attract people who would likely wouldn’t have made the trek past the Orange Curtain. (Daniel Kohn)

Our crowds are salt-of-the-earth
Everyone loves a cool crowd — even uncool people. Thus, it is not surprising in a town as glamorous and hip as Los Angeles that the jet-set, the wannabes, and the all-purpose douchebags are likely to turn up at a hip event. This eventually waters the event down, and it becomes a shadow of what it had been. Worse yet, events are contrived to resemble something that was once genuine [enter the douchebags, who buy into the facade]. Given the fact that OC is not overly comprised of transplants from throughout the states, nay world, and given the fact that it has never really had the romantic / fantasy associations of its big sister, most of the specialty events that happen in Orange County are home grown. From goth club nights to specialty music festivals, folks will get the real deal in OC. (Scott Feinblatt)

The plethora of pits
One of the best things about being a fan and a reporter in OC’s metal scene is the seemingly endless supply of slam dancers. Whether you’re at a show at the Observatory in Santa Ana, Alex’s Bar in Long Beach, the Doll Hut or Chain Reaction in Anaheim, odds are if you’re seeing a punk or metal band you’re also witnessing or experiencing a mosh pit. The slam pits can rage at almost any show, regardless of what bands are playing; moshers dance to myriads of metal and punk bands. From Cannibal Corpse and High On Fire, to Bad Brains and TSOL and literally everyone in between, OC can be a moshers Mecca. (Alex Distefano)

Covering the biggest bands in our tiniest venues
It’s not just OC and Long Beach’s biggest festivals or blowout concerts that have helped put us on the map. The best shows are the ones that people never saw coming. Whether it’s Green Day popping up at the Tiki Bar, Modest Mouse headlining a last minute set at Detroit Bar (R.I.P.), or Dennis Rodman randomly showing up for karaoke at La Cave, our darkest, smallest dive bars have the potential to become targets for the world’s biggest players. Being a reporter means you’re one of the first to get a heads up and a spot in the front row. Nothing makes a better story than watching a once-in-a-lifetime show happening in the same club were you can ordinarily sip Jack and Cokes while watching drunk asses doing karaoke at 2 a.m. Recently, the Melvins crashed Continental Room and gave us one of the most wall-rattling surprise shows of 2016. Our ears are still ringing. (Nate Jackson)

Highlighting Forgotten Scenes
Few things are more rewarding to an OC music journalist than spotlighting a hidden talent found late night in a half-empty club. But what about giving overlooked genres their shine? No other outlet covers local underground hip-hop like the Weekly does. Documenting Juice County from profiling its emerging emcees to reviewing mixtapes is something that’s allowed me to make my mark. But it ain’t just rap. A travesty of LA music journalism is the inattention paid to its Latin Alternative scene. I’ve written about OC’s own prodigies from Taller Sur, Signa, Nancy Sanchez and Aparato! (Gabriel San Roman)

OC Weekly gets to cover Long Beach, too
Okay, we get a lot of flak for this because it’s technically in Los Angeles County. But because the OC and LB music scenes have more of an affinity than LA/LB or LA/OC, it’s just historically been the natural state of the Weekly’s music coverage. Honestly, covering LB made the job twice as fun. (Lilledeshan Bose)

Hanging out with punk royalty
There are few areas of the world with as much punk history as OC, and fewer yet where the pieces of that history are nearly as accessible. Whether it’s driving around Fullerton with Steve Soto of the Adolescents or bumping into Social Distortion’s Mike Ness at a tattoo parlor, you never know who you’ll see around cities like Fullerton. Unlike giant cities like New York and London, the odds are pretty good you end up on a first-name basis with punk legends and/or their families and friends out here. (Josh Chesler)

The gratitude from highlighting a local band
There’s a lot of great bands hitting the radio these days, and it’s a great accomplishment to finally sit down with a popular mainstream artist for an article. But while someone like Drake or Solange might be a milestone of an interview to land, chances are they won’t remember you five minutes after it ends— which likely amounted to about 10-20 minutes. Highlighting a local, under-the-radar band that you enjoy will stir more genuine gratitude because you’re making a difference to them and their scene— and they’ll sing your praises for days. (Aimee Murillo)

Covering here shows is (usually) a lot less stressful
You’re never late or extremely stressed when headed to a show in Orange County because parking is abundant and the drive is a breeze —unlike the nightmarish commute to that congested and overcrowded city west of us. Heck, you even spend less at Orange County gigs. For example, Downtown Santa Ana’s public parking lots have a flat rate of 2 bucks every evening compare that to the parking lots of Downtown LA charging folks an average of $15—that’s hard earned money that could be better spent on brews or the traditional post-show In-N-Out. (Denise De La Cruz)

Representing Orange County’s thriving music and art scene 
Showing the world that Orange County is more than lifted trucks, mega churches, and malls is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. From a history of feminist and queer bands tearing shit up 20 years before Burger laid down its festival roots, to Santa Ana’s world renown Son Jarocho community, to Fullerton’s reemerging hardcore scene, to North County rappers and hip-hop artists, to South County’s
thriving DIY youth centered show scene, Orange County is home to many people making meaningful art and building community despite what outsiders like to think about life behind the “Orange Curtain.” (Candace Hansen)

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