In our ongoing Industry Report series, we’ll turn to a local concert venue that has revitalized an entire music scene. This report will focus on Garden Grove-based Garden Amp.
Some concert venues we remember because something crazy went down there, or they had a horrific bathroom, or it was super small and uncomfortable. But when it comes to The Garden Amp, it stands out because nothing else in recent memory can compare to it.
In the heart of Garden Grove, where the annual Strawberry Festival takes place, there is a well-camouflaged building that no one ever really noticed was there until they started having shows.
About five years ago, we were blessed with another Orange County concert venue; only this one wasn’t “new” as we knew it. It had actually been used to hold plays and music festivals for the community.
The outdoor stage is large with stadium-style seating and a small area between the seats and the stage. This didn’t stop the powers-that-be at this “new” venue dubbed Garden Amp to hold punk, ska, reggae, and rock and roll shows. The setting was unusual at first, but one that quickly caught on and became very enjoyable for all patrons.
Since the venue is all-ages, the seating arrangement makes it a perfect place to take kids and you won’t have to worry about them being squashed from large crowds and mosh pits. I personally have taken my three kids there multiple times and they thoroughly enjoyed being able to see their favorite punk bands play live.
It also helps that Garden Amp is hugged by a neighborhood on one side and busy street on the other. Because of its location, they have to end shows by a certain time for the city noise ordinance (so no late nights here).
Here’s the thing about great venues; sure they entertain us and as with the Garden Amp, they have great local acts and some of the biggest names in the music world play there. That means foot traffic that spills over to local businesses. In today’s economy, the Garden Amp has provided a means for additional customers to the locals. That is the mark of a great business partner and neighbor.
There are not one but three different stage areas at this venue. They have been known to hold festivals where the sound doesn’t drown out each stage, and they each have their own name. The Locker Room has become quite popular with the smaller setting and is located in the back of the venue property. It’s a smaller enclosed room with school lockers lining the wall behind the stage. It’s a great backdrop for photos (and identifier to know where the photo was taken)!
The smallest stage area is known as The Treehouse and it’s located in the front of the venue when you first walk in. There is, as you’ve probably guessed, a large tree in that area with a wooden platform “stage area” that doubles as a merch area to help keep the lines separate from the nearby bar area.
Did we mention the bars? That’s right, not one but up to four areas where you can purchase your desired beverage from a full bar. The smaller shows usually have fewer bars (obviously), but during those large shows, you better believe you will not go thirsty. The extra shot in this bar cocktail is the main bar has a kitchen with great hot food options.
When the venue first opened, I remember seeing stacks of drink cases and handwritten drink prices. Garden Amp has become so successful and popular (rightfully so) that they now have digital point of sale options, a beautiful and upgraded bar area, digital menus on large, lit-up screens, even better food and drink options than when they opened, and best yet, all the staff are super nice and helpful (so make sure you tip generously).
We spoke with one of the owners and were told they will be adding large monitors by the main bar so you can watch the performances while you are in line. If you’ve been to House of Blues in Anaheim, you are familiar with the set up. This is an extremely helpful tool when you need a break from the crowd or you show up too late for a seat.
This venue will soon be hosting the five nights of historic Pennywise shows. If you’ve been living in a punk rock clean room for the last few months, you probably haven’t heard of the most amazing event coming to Orange County in months.
THE GARDEN AMP
12762 Main Street, Garden Grove, CA 92840
Pennywise will be playing their first five albums in their entirety on five different nights: March 4th and 5th, and the following weekend, March 11th, 12th, and 13th. They will all be held at Garden Amp and almost all five shows are sold out. We couldn’t think of a better venue for this event; its location, capacity limit, outdoors, seating, newly upgraded sound system and lights all make it the perfect place for these five nights of awesomeness.
Garden Amp has a plethora of shows each weekend and the people behind the curtain that make it all happen really know what they are doing. They are helping our music community and community of Garden Grove grow. Be sure to check out their many shows and we guarantee that you will enjoy yourself!