Rock bands come in all shapes and sizes, from the massively successful punk bands of old to the new-age indie bands. Some stick to the script and follow in the footsteps of those that came before while others look to blaze their own trippy trail and embrace the technology of the modern age. Whatever your favorite flavor, Orange County has plenty to listen to and some of the best venues in the world to see live music. Catch all of these bands during their circuits to ensure the maximum level of enjoyment a human with ears can have.
Max and the Moon
Max and the Moon is a relatively new band, spending the time between 2009 and now sharpening its skills in Chino Hills, a border town that connects Los Angeles and Orange counties. While it leans more on the ear-pleasing indie side of life, the group’s tunes are authentically crafted and lack any soulless radio grabs found in most modern rock. The track “Out of My Head” is as catchy as the title implies and its childish video is delightfully creepy, as is the band’s best track “Lifehouse.” Max and the Moon regularly perform at local venues in OC and should be seen whenever you have the night off and want to smile and dance.
The Devious Means
The Devious Means continues to be an unstoppable force in Orange County, fresh off of its OC Music Awards “People’s Choice” victory. The fans spoke up and this group took down No Doubt, showing that the powerful force of Christopher Faris and his band of merry men (and one merry woman) is too much to be ignored. The band’s rock and roll comes from the bowels of hard work and a virtuous attempt to get better with every lick. Its evolution has been noticeable from show to show and on the verge of a new record, the Meanies are due for a break any day now.
Railroad to Alaska
The metallic side of rock and roll seems to be largely missing from Orange County; maybe it’s all the sun and beaches. But Railroad to Alaska laughs in the face of sunshine and produces some bone-cracking metal that lives to usurp those currently holding the metal banners. The group crushed its 2012 Warped Tour appearance and also walked away with some hardware at the most recent OC Music Awards, showing that progressive metal and grunge rock have a place in Costa Mesa, of all places. Don’t expect any ballads here: just guitar solos and mosh pits.
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When your name derives from a beloved childhood cartoon character and your lead singer plays a horn as well as guitar, well then you win some special kind of award. The Gromble has all the right pieces you need for an excellent rock band: great lyrics woven into a sense of timing, exploration and skill. Its songs stretch the boundaries of what most up-and-coming bands are willing to put forth, often appearing more experienced and brazen than it really is.
Midnight Hour encompasses something special about rock and Orange County in one group: energy. The band plays with enough kinetic force to topple most crowds and guitarist Tim Johnson is dazzling between the pickups and machineheads. It has a big following locally and has found a way to get its music into Angels’ games and commercials, something needed to break into the wider world of rock. Just give this band a listen and catch it at its many Orange County shows sometime soon.
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Jesse Seilhan is a writer, editor and photographer from the California Bay Area. After moving to Long Beach, Jesse continues his passion for writing and music by covering concerts, interviewing top artists, and giving a dose of wisdom in a crazy, mixed-up musical world. His work can be found at Examiner.com.