There’s nothing quite like festival season, especially when it comes to the summer months. Although Southern California is blessed with beautiful weather year-round, the warmth and energy buzzing in the air from May through September makes for an entirely unique outdoor music experience. Not only is it the perfect time to soak up sun, drink a few beers and listen to a bunch of bands you don’t know while waiting for that one band you wanted to see, but you can also camp out with some of your closest friends and several thousand complete strangers, all for the sake of creating lasting memories. From FYF to Ohana, here are the most anticipated summer festivals going down in the OC that we’re super stoked for.
Weenie Roast y Fiesta (May 20) Carson, CA
Even though Irvine Meadows is no more, KROQ’s annual Weenie Roast concert continues to thrive — just from a new venue. Though typically a rock-based lineup, this year’s guests are a tad more unconventional. Lorde is set to headline the festivities, fresh off of her run at Coachella, Paramore is back after taking time off to pen new tunes and Cage the Elephant is always a good time, especially with lead singer Matt Shultz channeling the ghost of young Mick Jagger whenever he takes the stage. If you need one more reason to go, the boys of Incubus are making their triumphant return following the release of their eighth studio album, called 8. It’ll give you the perfect excuse to dust off that Brandon Boyd poster you’ve been holding onto all these years.
Blackest of the Black (May 26-27) Silverado, CA
From the eerie corners of the mind that gave you the Misfits and Samhain comes the Blackest of the Black, Glenn Danzig’s personal music festival dedicated to heightening your experience through sheer terror. No really. Nestled away in the remoteness of Oak Canyon Park (already off to a foreshadowing start), the authority of all things sinister promises spectacular performances from artists like Ministry, Suicidal Tendencies, Atreyu, Vamps and of course, himself. Should you find yourself brave enough to explore the grounds — or worse, camp out — supplemental entertainment can be found inside of Castle Danzig, based on Danzig’s own graphic novels. Walk through a graveyard as you enter the immersive structure and prepare to endure some old school torture, get chained up in Medieval stocks and be ever-so-lightly electrocuted. Volunteer to try your hand at suspension and be hung with rope or steel hooks. If you like puzzles, the you’ll love trying to escape from a padded cell while restrained with a straightjacket. There’s even a virgin sacrifice and blood bath to participate in…every hour. Think of it like a two-day summer camp for the deranged.
East End Block Party (June 3) Santa Ana, CA
The annual celebration of Santa Ana’s local music scene. Run by the city’s own Konsept Project in collaboration with Top Acid, OC Music League and Beat Swapmeet (who will each curate their own stages), the lineup is as culturally diverse and colorful as the city has known to be, packed with hip-hop, soul, punk, alt rock and everything in between. This year, the fourth annual homegrown festival will be bigger than ever, thanks to popular newcomers like Karlton Phresh, Clemmie Williams and Noa James. Although it’s not yet Coachella-sized, the pride of DTSA continues to grow every year with food, vendors for selling wares for all of your cultural needs, the performers and variety of other entertaining aspects.
Summer Fest (June 17) Newport Beach
Summertime, and the living is easy. Well, not really—but for at least one day out of the year, we can pretend that it is. This year, the Weekly’s annual Summer Fest returns to Newport Dunes on Jun 17 from 1-5 p.m. for an afternoon shindig sunny enough to melt your cares away. Hosting a full menu of bands, booze and local eats, this is the ideal day at the beach in celebration our annual Summer Guide. The festival will be headlined by one of OC’s biggest reggae-rock faves Pacific Dub, who released of their highly anticipated Take Me Away EP, earlier this year. P. Dub’s new and improved sound is tailor made for dancing and drink sipping with your toes in the sand.
OC Fair (July 14-August 13) Costa Mesa, CA
Giving the people of Orange County an excuse to seek out animals and art, carnival rides and cotton candy since 1890, the OC Fair is back for it’s annual, 23 days of food, fun and music. Every Wednesday through Friday from 11 A.M. to Midnight, visitors can walk around and enjoy rodeos, MMA matches and even jousting. This year’s roster of musical guests includes every cover band you’ve ever heard of and then some, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The B-52s, Gavin DeGraw, The Isley Brothers and Kenny Rogers. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, but at least there’s something for everyone in the family to enjoy.
Agenda Festival (July 15) Long Beach
For the last 14 years, The Agenda trade show earned its rep for being the most exclusive streetwear convention in SoCal. Now they’ve opened their show up to the public in a major way. Recently, Agenda announced its inaugural Agenda Festival at the Long Beach Convention Center. Headlined by Tyler, The Creator along with rap gods of early aughts like Ludacris and Cam’ron, the event is billed as a “new, immersive music and shopping experience fusing together skate, surf, street culture, food and art in one setting.” Think of last year’s Complex Con but with an even nicer pair sneakers.
FYF (July 21-23) Los Angeles, CA
FYF (aka Fuck Yeah Festival) is quickly gaining the acknowledgement that it deserves. The Los Angeles-based event is continuously proving that it can hang with the big boys, and their ridiculously amazing 2017 roster is mindblowing. In case you somehow missed this epic news, Missy Elliott is co-headlining with Björk. While the Icelandic queen has been making her rounds as a DJ, this will be the hip-hop legend’s first and possibly only scheduled performance for the entire year. Run the Jewels and Erykah Badu are seasoned festival entertainers, so you know they won’t let you down either. Try to contain your squeals of glee.
Summertime in the LBC (August 5) Long Beach, CA
Ain’t nothing but a gangsta party going down near The Queen Mary in Long Beach and everyone’s invited. Bone Thugs N Harmony, YG, George Clinton, Warren G, KRS-1 and Wu-Tang Clan will be serving up some ‘90s nostalgia in one of hip-hop’s most influential cities and it’s going to be nothing short of a good time. Considering Snoop Dogg was able to virtually DJ a party on NBA 2k17’s Park After Dark, it would be a shame if the honorary Mayor of the LBC didn’t at least make an appearance. We’re counting on you, Snoop. Martha Stewart can roll, too.
High and Mighty (August 5-6) Silverado, CA
Tired of the overabundance of typical rock festivals? Then KROQ’s got you covered. High and Mighty Festival — a.k.a. the festival that your favorite dispensary is unofficially sponsoring — is taking you out to Oak Canyon Park for a weekend full of all the reggae, craft beer and carnival rides your stomach can handle. Luckily, it’s the kind of festival that you could enjoy either stoned or sober; however, if you’re sober you’ll probably be the only one.
Warped Tour (August 5 – San Diego, August 6 – Pomona)
No matter how old we get, the Vans Warped Tour will always be one of the fondest memories we have of our reservoir of live music experiences. But just because we’ve grown up doesn’t mean we can’t still make it out to reminisce alongside some of the music industry’s veteran acts and experience the efforts of up-and-coming rock stars without becoming bored. Hawthorne Heights, Dance Gavin Dance, Goldfinger, The Adolescents and The Ataris are headlining the seven mainland stages. Get ready to get nostalgic.
Nocturnal Wonderland (September 1-3) San Bernardino, CA
For 14 years, the creative geniuses behind Nocturnal Wonderland put on what is quickly becoming one of the most successful EDM festivals in North America. What began as as a small event that had to frequently fight for venues and struggled with low turnout has since become a five-stage, three-day homage to Alice in Wonderland with turntable juggernauts like Above & Beyond, DJ Snake and Chromeo headlining their bills. Fun-seeking souls willing to make the voyage to the I.E. won’t only be able to enjoy music, but will also be surrounded by a wonderland of carnival rides, elaborate art installations and neon lighting that even Tim Burton would bow down to.
Ohana Festival (September 8-10) Dana Point, CA
Because you’ll probably never have the chance to see Social Distortion, Fiona Apple and HAIM on the same bill again, it’ll be well worth it to drive down to Dana Point for this the 2017 edition of Ohana. In addition the smorgasbord of fancy beers, cocktails and food, patrons have the luxury of strolling out onto the Doheny’s pristine beaches, taking dips in the ocean to cool off from that early September heat between sets. There could be worse accommodations.
Music Tastes Good (September 30-October 1) Long Beach
The two-day Downtown Long Beach festival presented by 89.9 KCRW returns for its second year, leaner, meaner and, yes, tastier. Headlined by influential alt-rock trailblazers Ween and Sleater-Kinney headlining Saturday and Sunday, respectively, MTG is moving from it’s original location on Pine St., this year MTG will host it’s event at the beautiful waterfront Marina Green Park just in time for the end of summer.
Among the many other notable acts playing this year’s MTG are British shoegaze pioneers RIDE, critically-acclaimed American funk/soul/R&B musician Charles Bradley, Canadian jangle pop maestros Alvvays, Grammy Award-winning, East LA roots rockers Los Lobos, experimental Athens, GA art rock outfit of Montreal, Dr. Octagon, the acclaimed alter ego of rapper Kool Keith, and UK New Wave innovators Heaven 17 to name just a few. MTG celebrated the release of the lineup last night with a party at the Federal Bar Underground in DTLB.