The Observatory Venue Provides New, Intimate Spaces to Rock

Although many students at the Claremont Colleges enjoy attending concerts, this fun activity can also become strenuous: Tickets tend to be expensive, and major venues are far away and a hassle to get to. Nevertheless, there is a location that can give students easy access to concerts without immense sums or heavy Los Angeles traffic. The Observatory in Santa Ana is a small yet popular venue that hosts a variety of both well-known and fairly unknown artists from many different genres.

The Observatory has two areas where concerts are held, offering multiple listening and live performance experiences. The main room is large with multiple levels and stairs, although there are no sitting areas. This room is used for larger-scale concerts with artists who already have major fanbases. The singer BØRNS performed Nov. 25 in the main room, where the entire area was filled to the brim with fans. Because the performers in this room are more famous, meet-and-greets are usually held after the concert for fans that purchase shirts, posters, or other items.

The second area is called the Constellation Room, a much smaller room meant for the lesser-known performers. While this room offers a more intimate, experience with various bands, these concerts are almost always filled with moshing, no matter the genre of music. Such was the case when The Aquadolls performed with No Parents in May; despite The Aquadolls having a lighter, beach-like sound, the crowd still avidly moshed. People often have even closer experiences with performers in this room, since after concerts the musicians usually hang around outside to chat with fans and take selfies.

While the size of the venue and the crowds can be off-putting, Julia Martinez SC ’19 and Diana Arreola SC ’19 both had positive experiences at the recent BØRNS concert.

“I was very frustrated at first because the crowd made it sort of hard to see the band, but eventually it got better. Overall, I love the venue—there are walls to sit on, a pit, and great staggering stages, so even if you’re short you have hope of getting a rockin’ view,” Martinez said. 

Martinez also noted the diversity of genres and fans that the Observatory attracts.

“They have a wide variety of bands that play, so they cater to all the genres that SoCal hosts for all types of fans,” she said. “As we were leaving BØRNS it looked as though some hardcore band was about to play. The Observatory is always lit.” 

Arreola agreed that the Observatory provides concert goers with a unique opportunity to be closer to the performing artists. 

“My favorite part is that all concerts there are general admission, so anyone has a chance to be near the stage if they get there first,” Arreola said. “My favorite room is the Constellation Room.”

The Observatory caters to the music tastes of many different fans, with groups ranging from rock bands like Black Veil Brides to rapper Snoop Dogg, who will be performing in the main room Dec. 8 and 9. The venue also hosts up-and-coming groups like No Parents, PAPA, Plague Vendor, and Mac Sabbath. The large selection in bands and music genres allows the Observatory to be a haven for music connoisseurs of all varieties.

Some upcoming concerts in the main room include the Adolescents on Dec. 5, Casey Veggies on Dec. 10, Tyler the Creator on Dec. 13, Vince Staples on Dec. 18, and Kid Cudi on Dec. 21. Tickets for these bigger groups tend to be more expensive, usually ranging from $20 to $40.

For the Constellation Room, the performance lineup includes Hunny on Dec. 5, The Aggrolites on Dec. 10, Dustin Kensrue on Dec. 15 and 16, and Kat Dahlia on Dec. 17. These tickets are cheaper, with $15 being the most expensive and $8 the cheapest.

Compared to many other venues, the cost of tickets is much more affordable. Moreover, parking is usually free but on a first-come, first-serve basis. Additional parking within walking distance costs $10, so it is important to arrive early before a concert.

“I would definitely recommend this venue to anyone and everyone. It’s definitely a good place for 5C students because it is so close to the colleges, but far enough to get away and have fun,” Arreola said. 

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