Top 25 Greatest Orange County Bands of All Time: The Complete List

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Fu Manchu

Go ahead, call us a bunch of culture-less, lily-white suburbanites with a partiality to flip-flops and right-wing politics. Those kind of labels never cease to amuse us. Because one thing that instantly dooms most of the tired cliches ascribed to OC is the music--the one-of-a-kind frustration, aggression, soul, righteousness, smartassery and  freaky hallucinations that erupt from our niche in pop culture's ever-changing iPod shuffle. Breaking barriers and surprising the shit out of people is just something our bands have always been good at...Google it. Whether some of them qualify as longtime legends or brilliant flashes in the pan, there's no denying that the most influential acts in OC's music scene are forever incapable of sticking to one kind of sound. In the spirit of recognizing the best our county has to offer (in totally subjective fashion), we hit you with a list of the top 25 greatest bands to erupt from behind the Orange Curtain.--Nate Jackson


See Also:
* Top 25 Greatest OC Bands of All time: 25-15
*Top 25 Greatest OC Bands of All Time: 14-6
*Top 25 Greatest OC Bands of All Time: 5-1

25. Manic Hispanic
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There are two things Orange County residents can expect when Cinco de Mayo comes around: a moratorium on Mexican-hating-- all in the name of a goodwill drink fest-- and a Manic Hispanic concert. This Orange County band that started in 1992 has made their mark in the music scene by taking punk classics, such as The Descendents' "Milo Goes to College" and "Group Sex" by the Circle Jerks and Chicanofying them into satirical covers such as "Mijo Goes to Jr. College" and "Grupo Sexo." The band itself is a conglomerate of O.C. punk history, their members summoned from the likes of The Cadillac Tramps, Agent Orange and The Adolescents. Without a doubt, no other band better represents the cultural mosh pit that is Orange County: the classic white majority meshing with the Hispanic soon-to-be majority.--Elena de la Cuz

24. Agent Orange

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One of the most popular bands to emerge during the late '70s/early '80s first wave of OC punk, Agent Orange--formed by a cranky, pissed-off 14-year-old named Mike Palm--sounded distinctly Orange County, as opposed to the mostly slash-and-burn approach perpetrated by their peers Social Distortion and the Adolescents. That's because they injected Dick Dale-inspired surf-guitar breaks and more overt melody lines amidst all the usual thrashiness. In 1981, they released the Living In Darkness album, which included "Bloodstains"--not just a classic OC punk tune, but a classic tune period. The band's largest following, though, came via an army of skateboarders. They were one of the first bands to tap into the then-still-kinda-underground subculture, putting their music on the soundtracks of various skate videos. After all this time, Palm still hasn't gotten a real job, and still tours as Agent Orange with a revolving lineup of players.

23. The Growlers

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Throughout their six years as a band, the Growlers have amassed a handful of bragging rights that no other OC bands of their generation can claim. The list includes playing Coachella twice (if you count the double weekend this year), garnering praise and production help from Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, becoming lightning rods for South County hipsterdom and creating a sound which combines the irrefutable twang of OC's surf rock culture with haunting, San Francisco-born psychedelics. Since releasing their 25-track opus Greatest Hits in 2008, the Dana Point band--branded by the woebegone vocals of Brooks Nielsen--continues to prove that they are a band to follow and we're sure they get off on that...even though they're often thought of as masters of the "I don't give a fuck" attitude personified in their music.As they prepare to launch their latest studio album Hung at Heart, we watch admirably as they continue to let their freak flag fly.


22. Save Ferris
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There have been a handful of bands within Orange County that rode ska's third wave on the coattails of Reel Big Fish's hit "Sell Out." After that Huntington Beach band died out on mainstream radio, the majority of ska acts followed suit--many except for a a band orignially dubbed Los Pantelones. The band would ultimately come to be known as Save Ferris-- they decided on a name change and nicked the title off of Ferris Bueller's Day Off, as they were pushed into mainstream success after their cover of Dexy's Midnight Runners' "Come On Eileen." Their first album in 1997, It Means Everything, is undoubtedly their most successful with hits like "Superspy." The band's fame died out by their sophomore album as they transitioned into a pop rock genre and eventually disbanded in 2002. Save Ferris could have had the same fate as other ska acts, but in the prime of the third wave ska revival, they were and continue to be one of the leading pioneers in the genre. Despite their early end, they were able to create an album that is still prominent and cherished by OC ska fans.--Priscella Vega


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9 comments
paultourkin
paultourkin

Really? No love for the Crowd-- the original HB punks? Also TSOL (yes, maybe technically Long Beach, but still-- you had Sublime.....) History lessons are in order

WetRock
WetRock

Somehow having two of the biggest sellout bands at the top for a list of all time OC music acts seems appropriate to define the region. Well done.

scorchman
scorchman

Nice list but where are the Shrinky Dinx or Sugar Ray? They pretty much owned the South County for about 4 years in the 90's and went on to sell quite a few more records than a lot of bands listed here.  And what about Agent Orange, they almost go hand in hand with Orange County and the punk scene that started in the 80's there. Just sayin'...

TotalKunt
TotalKunt

Shows what you know about the Orange County music scene... You forgot the band that paved the way for most of the bands you listed, The Mechanics. Dennis Catron, Tim Racca, Sandy Hanson, Brett Alexander, Tim Maag, Michael Dane and Scott Hoogland packed shows all over OC and LA, not to mention being groomed to sign with Capitol Records. They were a major influence of Social Distortion, Mike Palm and Perry Giordano (Agent Orange) and Rikk Agnew (Adolescent's Main Songwriter). They were one of the first bands to play almost all original material. It's sad to think of all the bands that have contributed so much to the Orange County music scene that will never get any credit, at least have the decency to include one of the bands that made the scene possible for most of the bands you included in the list.

peyoteplayers
peyoteplayers

 @scorchman Agent Orange is on the list at number 24. As for Sugar Ray, well...sure maybe. But you'll notice some other big bands that aren't on here...Lit...

STRYPER.

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