Sometimes its tough to find a place to spend your holiday time between the hustle of shopping and visiting family, all while trying to keep your sanity with some free time to blow off steam. The best way to do so is always live music, snagging a few hours of reprieve while being entertained by masters of their craft. Luckily, Orange County is brimming with concerts to attend before New Years’ Eve and these are this season’s must sees.
Chris Robinson Brotherhood
3503 S. Harbor Blvd.
Santa Ana, CA 92704
Hours: Dec. 2, 8 p.m.
It is hard to believe that The Black Crowes have been around for almost 25 years. The American band has provided the linchpin that holds classic and modern rock together, opening for some of the biggest acts of its time. Frontman Chris Robinson has released two albums with his new group and playing such a small venue like The Observatory means there is no seat in the house that will keep you away from the jamming. This may be another bump in the hiatus road for Robinson, so see the band before another reunion sweeps the Robinson brothers back into a full-time Black Crowes gig.
Long Beach Symphony Orchestra “Christmas Fantasy”
300 E. Ocean Blvd.
Long Beach, CA 90802
Hours: Dec. 9, 2 p.m.
This will be the 10th time the Long Beach Orchestra suits up and gives fans a holiday treat with “Holiday Fantasy.” The whole family can enjoy a night with live music, as young ones get pictures taken with Santa Claus. Hollywood Bowl conductor Thomas Wilkins will head up this troop for the first time as Christmas classics are performed for the 3,000 people in attendance. This year, fans are asked to bring canned food or hygiene items for those less fortunate to receive after the show is over.
843 W. 19th St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
Hours: Dec. 1, 8 p.m.
It’s been three decades in the making for Orange County favorites Fu Manchu. The self-proclaimed stoner rock band got famous creating the soundtracks for sporting events and video games with its high-octane brand of alternative rock. It’s playing its classic “The Action Is Go” album to bring back the classic feel of that 1997 CD that featured a new drummer and better production. Skateboarding is definitely not a crime, as they say, and might be recommended as this show is destined to sell out and fill the parking lot.
The Vandals 17th Annual Christmas Formal
1530 S. Disneyland Drive
Anaheim, CA 92802
Hours: Dec. 21 – 9 p.m
The Vandals are another Orange County product that brings tons of punks to a concert for the Christmas spirit. It released “Oi to the World!” in 1996, a collection of semi-goofy, semi-awesome Christmas tunes that the band recreates almost entirely during this annual concert. A few years ago, the band let the fans pick the set list for the night, something personal that not many groups do, unless they don’t have an album to promote.
122 E. Commonwealth Ave.
Fullerton, CA 92832
Hours: Dec. 2 – 8 p.m.
To continue the tradition of Orange County bands returning home for the holidays, Agent Orange is putting on a free show in Fullerton at the Slidebar. Mike Palm is the only member who started with the trio back in 1979, but it still promises to be a solid performance. This show is a part of the third annual “Charity Food Drive and Concert Series,” events that let fans see free shows if they bring five non-perishable items or a new blanket, instead of paying a $10 donation. Pathways of Hope, a non-profit, helps run these shows.
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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.