When you think of New Year’s Eve, you probably think of New York, counting down with Dick Clark and watching the ball drop in Times Square. This will soon change, because now Orange County is stepping up with its own countdown and claim to fame: the Orange Drop.
The first ever Orange County New Year’s Eve was held at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa this year. It was a large outdoor concert festival, boasting big names like Sugar Ray, the Violent Femmes, the Psychedelic Furs, Berlin, Lit and Joan Jett.
Six separate stages provided nonstop entertainment, and many food and beverage stands provided sustenance for a hungry crowd. In promotion of a safe New Year’s, a Safe and Sober lounge provided designated drivers with free nonalcoholic drinks and had drawings for great prizes.
Despite the heavy rain that had fallen during the day, the night was completely clear, and many took this as a sign of good tidings for 2006. OCNYE drew a large, excited crowd, and no one’s mood was dampened. With so many great bands playing, how could you be?
There were so many talented bands playing that it was impossible to watch all of them. As always, Reel Big Fish played an amazing set, maintaining a light and fun set, keeping the spirit of ska alive.
Besides playing some of their classics for their fans, RBF also played some awesome covers, including the Cure’s ‘Boys Don’t Cry,’ A-ha’s ‘Take On Me’ and Social Distortion’s ‘Story of My Life.’
Lead singer and guitarist Aaron Barrett said that RBF wanted to be a part of OCNYE because ‘it sounded like a really cool event.’ Being only ‘two miles from [his] house’ made it that much more special for Barrett, and he jokingly said of the band’s invitation to play OCNYE, ‘[This] means that we’re one of the biggest bands of Orange County!’
You can catch Reel Big Fish on tour this summer with Less Than Jake and MxPx, and keep your eyes open for a live album some time this year as well.
Irvine’s very own Putnam Hall was the big headliner of the local stage. Considering themselves to be ‘forever the local underdogs,’ Putnam Hall was excited to play such a big show.
‘This is the biggest thing that Orange County has seen as far as New Year’s celebrations go, so we’re so stoked that we get to be a part of the very first one,’ said Putnam Hall’s singer-guitarist Lillard Wong.
Putnam Hall rocked hard with wild abandon and gave an honest, dynamic performance that got the crowd pumped up and on their feet, proving their worth and showing everyone exactly why they were chosen to be the headliners of the local stage.
Having just returned from New York, where the video for their single ‘SuperNothing’ is currently in the Top 10 Countdown on MTV-Chi, Putnam Hall plans on rereleasing their album ‘Love and Industry’ and then perhaps playing on the Warped Tour or going on a university campus tour.
Wong even introduced me to Mark McGrath, frontman for Sugar Ray, who was headlining the main stage. Hailing from Huntington Beach, the band was glad to perform at an event so near and dear to their hearts.
‘This is like a homecoming for us,’ McGrath said. ‘We feel truly blessed.’ He also liked the mix of musical genres on the billing, and how so many different bands could come together to make the event a success. ‘It’s like worlds colliding,’ McGrath said with a smile and a laugh.
Sugar Ray came out strong and began the first part of their set, but they paused for the big countdown to 2006. The pivotal moment of the night came as spectators stared up to watch the Orange Ball drop. The ball, with its bright orange and green lights, did indeed look like an electric orange, and it came down to ring in the New Year amid fireworks, lasers, smoke and lots of celebration from a jubilant crowd. After that, Sugar Ray picked up where they left off and played on into the night, officially ringing in the New Year and finishing off a great celebration with a great performance.
The inauguration of OCNYE was a big success and Orange County is now on the map for New Year’s Eve. As Wong put it, ‘If they keep this up, it’ll only be bigger next year.
Orange County has always been my destination of choice, so to have something this big come through is definitely a reason to be proud.’ Orange County indeed has cause to be proud, and I expect that we’ll hear big things from OCNYE in the years to come!