Flashing lights. Screaming fans. The bellowing of the security guard telling you to go back to your original seat. Standing so close to the speakers that you question if you’ve gone deaf in one ear – which in fact you haven’t, it’s just called temporary tinnitus and no, you really shouldn’t Google your symptoms.
I’ve been to dozens of concerts. I used to keep count, and I even had an app that would provide a countdown and notify me of a concert’s anniversary with photos and videos from that night. But by the time I entered my senior year of high school, I was attending too many to care much about “reliving my memories.”
At this point, I go to concerts less for the artist and more for the event itself – location included. Frequently overlooked, the venue you attend plays an incredible role in how your night will pan out. For example, parking: a concert-goer’s most stressful factor to consider. Some venues have nearby street parking available from 8 a.m., when you grab a spot in the general admission line, all the way until 1 a.m., when you leave the tour bus after meeting your favorite artist.
Between Chapman University’s three closest venues – the Honda Center, the House of Blues Anaheim and The Observatory – only the latter has that option. Not only that, but the general admission venue also features a three-tiered, semicircle flooring to help our fellow 5-foot-2-inch onlookers actually see the stage.
With a more mom-and-pop feel than the House of Blues Anaheim – another general admission chain that boasts a gorgeous full restaurant and bar, complementary with live entertainment – I can’t help but also feel attracted to The Observatory’s simplistic charm.
Using a millennial’s favorite tie-breaker method, I took to Instagram to poll what other students thought of as their favorite Orange County concert venue. What I was surprised to find is the majority felt the same – 53 percent of 68 participants favored The Observatory over the House of Blues Anaheim. Going further, The Observatory tied in votes with the Honda Center at 50 percent, giving me all the confidence to believe the underdog really does have an opportunity to whisk away our hearts and come out on top.
At the end of the day, if a big artist is coming to Orange County, chances are they’ll be performing at the Honda Center. Yes, you’ll finally be able to drive four miles to the site instead of refusing to drive 40 to a Los Angeles venue, but at what cost? Artist merchandise prices are inflated, some concession meals taste microwaved, traffic in the parking lot is a hassle and getting up close and personal with the talent can only be a daydream for those who aren’t able to drop hundreds on center-floor seats.
That’s why you should consider stopping by The Observatory, which has attracted both up and coming artists like Jon Bellion, EDEN or Petit Biscuit and hit headliners like Billie Eilish or Panic! At The Disco – all of which I’ve personally seen perform there.
The venue also hosts a bar and restaurant duo similar to the House of Blues, but more quaint and homey than the Anaheim site’s grand display. And despite the Honda Center’s appeal as one of the largest venues in Orange County, you can’t beat the connection and memories you’ll form with fans as you all wait in line for the general admission doors to open.
So I’m sorry Arianators, while I will try my best to see her show in December and be forced to succumb to $100 nosebleed seats, you might instead find me front row at The Observatory, discovering new artists and thriving on the crowd’s energy – all while getting my parking for free.