Scene-By-Scene: Orange County

The wild expanses of music and art scenes in California have made it one of the most diverse cities in the world. However there is one scene, that through the ebbs and flows of popularity, has maintained the hardcore fanbase from which its namesake originated.

Although Southern California (mainly the entertainment mecca of Los Angeles) is widely regarded as one of the birthplaces of hardcore punk in the 1980s, it was their neighbors to the south in the affluent suburbs of Orange County that brought the energy, abrasiveness, and violence that eventually became synonymous with the genre.

Although the true magic of the SoCal scene comes from the huge backyard show circuit, there are plenty of mosh-friendly venues where you can catch an array of performing artists.


  • Chain Reaction- Anaheim, CA

Kicking off our list, we have the flagship OC venue, Chain Reaction.  Just about every band coming out of the SoCal scene has played Chain Reaction, as proven by the countless T-shirts adorning the inside wall of the venue.  The skinny, tucked-in venue is no stranger to stagedives and crowded sing-alongs.

Upcoming Events:

4/15/22- Drug Church, One Step Closer, Soul Blind

4/20/22- Pressure Cracks, Foreign Pain, Duhkha

  • The World Famous Doll Hut- Anaheim, CA

The Doll Hut is an institution for the city of Anaheim and the larger Orange County area.  This 21+ bar is over 100 years old and has been hosting local and touring acts for over 60 years.  In the mid 80s, The Doll Hut became an institution for punk bands specifically, however nowadays they seem to only book the tribute bands and legacy acts that would appeal to the midlife crisis, anti-all-ages-venue sort of punks.

Upcoming Events:

4/9/22- MDC

4/30/22 – 5/1/22- DI

  • The Observatory- Santa Ana, CA

Formerly the infamous Galaxy Theater, The Observatory has been Orange County’s premiere venue for all sorts of music since they opened in 2011.  The venue consists of two rooms, the smaller Galaxy Room reserved for more intimate shows.  The venue also does not shy away from larger festivals such as When We Were Young in 2017, which utilized the surrounding parking lots to put up multiple stages and create festival grounds.

  • The Garden Grove Amphitheater- Garden Grove, CA

The all-new Garden Grove Amphitheater has quickly become a locally loved and hated venue, and opinions vary widely depending on who you ask.  Some people will say the stadium seating impedes the mosh pit- others will say the obstacles are part of the fun.  Some people say the amphitheater stage is too long- others say it makes the perfect runway for stage dives.  Some people  say the smaller Locker Room is janky and claustrophobic- others say it is just right.  After visiting the Garden Amp for the super stacked Winter West Fest, as well as to see the legendary Gorilla Biscuits, I can safely say it became my favorite venue instantly.

Upcoming Events

4/8/22- Reverend Horton Heat

  • Programme Skate & Sound- Fullerton, CA

Fullerton’s Programme has been one of the most exciting venues for up and coming local bands.  The bands perform on the main floor, with record shelves pushed aside to make room for the mosh pit.  Although shows are not regularly scheduled here, they tend to sell out very quickly upon being announced.  These shows harness the true energy of Orange County Hardcore and recorded sets from OC bands like DARE have put the scene on the map.

Photo by Natalie Parham on Unsplash