Music to My Ears: The Haute 5 Live Music Venues in Orange County

Much like a first kiss or the first time behind the wheel of a car, most people can vividly remember their first concert. They can recall the anticipation of the opening song, the way the air smelled of people packed too close together, and how their ears rang for days afterwards; and they loved every single minute of the experience. To relive that life-altering moment or simply make new memories, check out the following live music venues and don’t forget the ear plugs.

Detroit Bar

In Orange County, fans can’t call themselves indie-music lovers if they’ve never set foot inside Detroit Bar. Bands including Red Letter Agent, Syndicate, and The Joy Formidable grace the stage in August with September’s line-up proving just as groove worthy. With cover charges starting at $5, two pool tables, and more beer selections then a fraternity party, this venue simply rocks.

Detroit Bar is locate at 843 West 19th St., Costa Mesa, Calif., 949.642.0600

Yost Theater

In terms of history, the Yost theatre has racked up some cool points. Built in 1912 as a theatre for Mexican vaudeville, the historical venue underwent a complete renovation and reopened in 2007, quickly becoming a go-to spot for live music junkies. The enormous stage and 30-foot projection screen allows bands a platform for showmanship while the intimate seating area is reminiscent of an underground New York club. The ample parking and varied show selections (everything from death metal to opera) make Yost a “yes!”

Yost Theatre is located at 307 North Spurgeon St., Santa Ana, Calif., 888.862.9573

Chain Reaction

One of Orange County’s most popular urban legends is that No Doubt played this venue when they were an unknown band from Anaheim. The only proof that a young Gwen Stefani and crew rocked the stage at Chain Reaction is a band flyer circa 1993, which many believe is a hoax. Whatever the final verdict, this venue has since become a staple club for hardcore O.C. punk and ska bands. There are few bouncers, little security, and no hipsters; just leather, chains, and steel toed boots. The club is all ages and doesn’t serve alcohol – meaning concertgoers truly support the band not the bar.

Chain Reaction is located at 1652 West Lincoln Ave., Anahem, Calif., 714.635.6067

The Coach House

Located in beautiful San Juan Capistrano, this South County venue is considered the “soft-rock concert spot.” Performers including Michael McDonald, Lisa Loeb, and Shawn Colvin are regulars, as are international touring artists including Acoustic Alchemy and Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars. Though the crowd is more mature, they’re just as likely to bust out a lighter, scream a song request, and dance all night like a college student.

The Coach House is located at 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, Calif., 949.496.8930

The Gypsy Lounge

Don’t let the mini-mall location fool you. Diversity is the name of the Gypsy booking game and on any given week, the line-up features an eclectic mix of artists including a European D.J. spinning German house, a bluegrass quartet, and a Spanish rock band. The multi-cultural live music variety along with a first class sound system, ample seating, and stocked bar make this suburban venue feel out of this world.

The Gypsy Lounge is locate at 23600 Rockfield St., Lake Forest, Calif., 949.206.9990