The Observatory: A Journey in Four Concerts
There’s no better place in Orange County to see music stars than the Observatory. Hidden in an abundance of business parks lies a delightfully intimate concert venue — a space where hipsters and emo kids alike can be transfixed by the music performances of their choice. Since the Observatory is located close to Santa Ana, it becomes a perfect musical getaway for UC Irvine students.
The Observatory is a smaller venue; as a result, tickets are. Caitlin Antonios, New University Editor-in-Chief and KUCI extraordinaire describes her frequent trips to the Observatory: “It’s hard to find good concerts at an affordable price locally. So the Observatory is basically like a one stop shop. It’s cheap, it’s easy to get to and it’s the type of place you want to be any night of the week no matter who is playing.”
And that’s true. I have had the pleasure of arriving at the Observatory with a ticket and no previous knowledge of the artist I am waiting to see. There is a joy in going into a concert with an curious ear and open mind. Such an experience happened to me my first year on my older brother’s 21st birthday. I had never heard the phrase “cloud rap” before, but on April 7th of 2016 I got ready to see Swedish rapper Yung Lean. I had no understanding of the more intimate layout of the Observatory and found myself — a small, short girl — in a tightly-wound crowd of fans moshing to bops like “Kyoto” and “Ginseng Strip 2002.” It was a strange experience; I remember feeling concert-goers swaying hard to music that was self-proclaimed “sad-boy music.” It was rap I had never encountered before. The stage was dominated by the presence of a pale, young male whose energy and voice meandered through the shallow space. I couldn’t keep balance and essentially danced my way to the final song in order to survive (and finally enjoy) the intensity of the crowd.
However, it isn’t always this aggressive or lyrically confusing. My Observatory experience from sophomore year was a Temper Trap concert — you probably know them from their gorgeously climatic song “Sweet Disposition.” I was a fan of theirs since hearing that song, which convinced me to check out their all of their music. Luckily, the whole concert experience totally held up. As I entered the blue light of the main hall, I noticed that the opening act was actually worth listening to. This band, Coast Modern, impressed my brother and I with their groovy, California-esque tunes. The joyous quality of the Observatory how it introduced me to artists I love now, such as Coast Modern. The Temper Trap themselves were fantastic. My brother and I fought to be as close to the stage as possible. I even remember an elderly woman at the front rocking out harder than anyone around, holding an iPhone to facetime with some younger relative of hers. I was fascinated by not only the incredible live sound of the Temper Trap, but also the variety of fans they had. The night ended with the band and crowd singing the lyrics of the iconic “Sweet Disposition” with a righteous fury, an almost religious musical experience.
After my first two concerts, the Observatory became a home to me, a gathering place that welcomes me time and time again. From Mitski to Vampire Weekend, I’ve had the privilege of seeing some of my favorite artists. It is a jewel in the middle of a business park. I know I’ll always have a place to be, and for maybe $15 I might find the next band or artist to love. If music is the food of love, then I’ll always be hungry for a new experience at the Observatory.