Best Place to See a Concert
1. Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
- The venue can hold up to 15,000 concert-goers, with adjacent picnic areas available.
- Verizon originally was known as Irvine Meadows Amphitheater.
- Verizon has been hosting live events for 29 years.
Why they're No. 1: The amphitheater is known for large concerts by big-name acts such as Guns N' Roses and Jonas Brothers. "In addition to the wide variety of music that has played its stage, the venue has also hosted live comedy events such as the Power 106 Comedy Fiesta and action sports competition," said the amphitheater's public-relations representative, Greg Terlizzi. Tickets are available through ticketmaster.com.
Claim to fame: Verizon draws concert-goers from Orange, San Diego and Los Angeles counties for single-act concerts as well as festivals and fairs such as Lollapalooza. The amphitheater wins praise from fans who like the outdoor atmosphere – the venue is surrounded by rolling hills and features tiered seating with orchestra, loge and terrace sections.
Fan favorite: "All of the seats have good views. Love being outside!" – Alicia Richards, Newport Beach
Fun fact: No Doubt made its first appearance in three years as the encore for a Gwen Stefani solo concert in 2007.
– Rebecca Galan
600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa; 714-556-2787
- OCPAC presented 464 concerts in its 2009-2010 season, which were attended by more than 600,000 people.
- The first of the concert halls was built in 1986.
Claim to fame: The OCPAC consists of four concert halls, the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Samueli Theater, Segerstrom Hall and Founders Hall. For each season or series, OCPAC offers discounts with the purchase of tickets for the complete season. The center hosts performances including classical music, Broadway plays and jazz concerts. Each concert hall has its own atmosphere. For example, the Samueli Theater seats 375 people for a concert, and 320 people "cabaret style," in four-person tables. In addition to entertainment, OCPAC also offers dining at Leatherby's Cafe Rouge. Educational programs are offered for children and there is also a family series of performances at OCPAC.
Fan favorite: "OCPAC is the best place to see a concert because it has easy access, great seating arrangements, support for the handicapped and a wonderful sound system." – Alice Gresto, Fullerton
Fun fact: OCPAC started out on a 5-acre lot that was donated by the Segerstrom family in 1979.
– Rebecca Galan
2695 E. Katella Ave.; 714-704-2400
- The center was built 17 years ago for $123 million, with Arrowhead the original naming sponsor.
Claim to fame: With a seating capacity of about 19,000 people, Honda Center is one of Orange County's largest venues. The center presents well-known artists such as Justin Bieber, Shakira and Muse. In addition to musical entertainment, Honda Center will host the 2011 NCAA Men's Basketball West Regionals as well as the 2011 Big West Basketball Tournament. For the first time, the Radio City Rockettes are traveling to the West Coast and will be presenting their 2010 holiday show at the Honda Center.
Fan favorite: "I've seen three concerts at the Honda Center. The venue is clean and organized. Also, the sound quality is excellent." – Brianna Davenport, Corona
Fun fact: The Honda Center is also home to the Anaheim Ducks hockey team and to the John R. Wooden Classic college basketball tournament.
– Rebecca Galan
88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa; 714-708-1870
By Ben Wener, Soundcheck
There are more concert venues in Orange County than ever before – and yet there still seems to be only a handful of places capable of presenting large-scale events that can nab a date on a superstar's tour route or host a rare A-list double bill.
Verizon Wireless Amphitheater gets all the attention because, well, the former Irvine Meadows has been around longer than its fellow behemoths and often scores the most shows – KROQ's Weenie Roasts, Jimmy Buffett's regular appearances, and so forth.
Meanwhile, a dozen miles north on I-405 sits a gem of an amphitheater that, if only the music gods and the state of California would allow it, could once again be one of the best places from Santa Barbara to San Diego to see a show.
As it is – with a schedule restricted to running concurrently with the OC Fair and a sound system that needs a forceful turning-up – Pacific Amphitheatre still has advantages over Verizon.
Some are merely practical: several side-street routes, for instance, enable a much smoother flow of traffic and help avoid exiting headaches. Plus, Pacific, which resumed operation in 2003 after a decade of dormancy, has only recently let people back on the lawn making it, at 8,000 seats, O.C.'s own midsize outdoor venue, la the Greek Theatre in L.A.
Because of that, its construction is wider (Verizon is narrow), leaving even the furthest rows feeling closer to the stage without creating out-of-whack sight lines. Color me old-fashioned, but I've also grown to enjoy the change-of-pace at Pacific: earlier start and end times, allowing hours enough to stroll through the fair before or after, with admission cost covered.
Given half a chance to expand as it did in the '80s – the neighbors sure don't complain about noise like they used to – and by adding all-summer-long bookings, Pacific could complete its resurrection as a nationally noted venue, the sort that once attracted Sting, Talking Heads, Guns N' Roses, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Beastie Boys and Dire Straits to play there. Even now, it remains one of the very best venues around.