The almost overnight mothballing of the concert business due to the coronavirus has been a disaster for musicians worldwide, with canceled tours decimating schedules and earnings alike. But many artists soon dusted themselves down and started producing improvised audio and video content from quarantine in order to stay connected with their fans. We took a look at the lockdown efforts of 10 well-known Orange County bands and artists.

For Anaheim girl-next-door-gone-glam Gwen Stefani, boyfriend Blake Shelton’s 1,200-acre Oklahoma ranch is hardly the worst place to be quarantined. While coronavirus caused the last leg of her Las Vegas Just a Girl residency to be postponed, the former No Doubt chanteuse has been doing more than okay out in OK. In early April, the self-isolating Stefani and Shelton gave a remote performance of their No.1 country hit “Nobody But You,” bundled up in front of a campfire, for an Academy of Country Music special that replaced the cancelled ACM awards. More bizarrely, the couple then made a virtual appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, during which Stefani took clippers to her beau’s quarantine mullet, mid-interview.

Lockdown wouldn’t have been such an issue for Irvine’s favorite musical sons Young the Giant a few years ago, when all the band’s members shared a house in L.A. But these days they’ve had to go to considerable lengths to stay in touch with their sizable following while self-isolating. The quarantined quintet have revisited a project called “Song A Day,” in which they begin writing a new song every Monday, then hot-potato it between members before revealing the completed tune at the end of the week (all shared through video clips). They even switched-up the idea one week in May, instead demonstrating the writing process behind one of their existing tracks, “Glory.”

In late April, Garden Grove poppy punkers The Offspring got doubly topical with their social-distanced video rendition of Tiger King star Joe Exotic’s “Here Kitty Kitty” (which is actually by obscure Washington country duo The Clinton Johnson Band). The clip features frontman Dexter Holland and guitarist Noodles performing masked and six feet apart; a drummer in a tiger suit (probably not regular Offspring skin-beater Pete Parada, as he lives in Tennessee); kitty-suited dancers; and footage of a skateboarding “tiger.” Turns out that The Offspring make quite a convincing country band, and their lockdown video enjoyed around 80,000 YouTube views in its first month — pretty fly (for a striped guy).

As the creators of an Emmy-winning TV series, The Aquabats are no strangers to making video content. With their May/June tour with Reel Big Fish postponed, the cartoon-ish Huntington Beach fivesome have been making various video and audio overtures to their fans in the run up to new album Kooky Spooky … In Stereo in June. Perhaps the most unlikely was scholarly guitarist Eaglebones Falconhawk (a.k.a. Ian Fowles) demonstrating the equipment, techniques, and tones intrinsic to the surf rock that so influences The Aquabats’ sound, on Fender Play LIVE.

The Aquabats (Photo by Forrest Locke)

Alongside Young the Giant, veteran foursome Thrice are probably Irvine’s best-known rock export. Their frontman Dustin Kensrue has stayed busy while isolated, performing a heartfelt virtual duet of the Peter Gabriel classic “In Your Eyes” with Switchfoot singer Jon Foreman, and then a solo acoustic set for the Riot Fest At Home livestream series.

Members of Yorba Linda metalcore mainstays Atreyu also kept at it during lockdown, with many of their efforts focused on raising money to help support their idled road crew. Singing drummer Brandon Saller performed a streaming “Live From My Living Room” concert on May 22, with a portion of the proceeds going to the band’s crew, and various members have also streamed acoustic jams and playthroughs of favorite Atreyu tracks.

Atreyu (Courtesy Spinefarm Records)

Predictably, Placentia’s pot-fixated hip-hoppers Kottonmouth Kings traditionally mark 4/20 (April 20) in some special way. With face-to-face performances ruled out this year, they had to celebrate this unofficial “Weed Day” with a split-screen remote livestream. This consisted of the three remaining members of the kinda-on-hiatus group rambling on from their respective homes about their stoner lifestyles under lockdown and recounting episodes from KK’s nearly 25-year history, augmented by various drop-in guests, for nearly two hours.

With their fun-focused M.O. deflated by current conditions, Orange County punk veterans Zebrahead have been keeping the party going in cyberspace with weekly “Songs in the Key of Quarantine” playlists on Spotify. These have leaned towards punk, and especially O.C. punk (including, of course, Zebrahead), but have also featured everything from pop to full-blown metal. Additionally, drummer Ed Udhus and guitarist Dan Palmer have recorded “quarantine play-alongs” of popular ZH songs from the band’s rehearsal space.

Lit (Photo by Kevin Scanlon)

Fullerton’s Lit – best-known for huge 1999 hit “My Own Worst Enemy” — offered fans the opportunity to “Get Lit with Lit” for four days in April. This entailed doing personalized virtual liquor shots with founder members Ajay and Jeremy Popoff on Cameo, with 100 percent of proceeds going to the MusiCares non-profit (which aims to “safeguard the health and well-being of all music people”).

I mentioned Huntington Beach alt-metal up-and-comers BI·AS in my article last month about area musicians coping during lockdown, but they earn another shout-out here for sheer extent of their creativity during the pandemic. The quintet actually wrote and self-produced a song, then self-recorded and edited an accompanying video; all while sheltering-in-place in their respective homes. Considering that the band features founding Korn drummer David Silveria, it’s little surprise that the resulting song, “Unsavory”, is throwback nu-metal. But the songcraft, recording and split-screen video are all impressively professional (under any circumstances).


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