Review: ‘80s Nostalgia the OC Fair with Violent Femmes and Echo & the Bunnymen

Not a single audience member was sitting when Violent Femmes performed “Blister in the Sun.” (Taylor Wong/LOL-LA)

Not a single audience member was sitting when Violent Femmes performed “Blister in the Sun.” (Taylor Wong/LOL-LA)

The OC Fair is one of Southern California’s most popular summertime attractions. From the food vendors and carnival rides to face painting and magic, there are endless possibilities of things to do at the OC Fair. The one thing that gets me down to Orange County every summer for the fair is their incredible summer concert series.

The OC Fair is known for bringing back famous music acts from the past, oftentimes from the ‘80s rock ’n’ roll scene. Last night was one of the most incredible lineups I’ve seen the fair put on: Violent Femmes and Echo & the Bunnymen. How freakin amazing is that?!

Violent Femmes took the stage first with a set taking up a little over an hour of the evening. The set started off with some of their weirder stuff like “Waiting for the Bus.”

“Blister in the Sun” came on a few songs in, and at that point, not a single member of the audience was still sitting. As you can expect, “Blister in the Sun” was more of a singalong than a performance from the band itself.

At this point, it was just hit after hit. Their set consisted of hits such as “Kiss Off,” “Good Feeling,” “Gone Daddy Gone” and ending with “Add It Up.”

Echo & the Bunnymen (Taylor Wong/LOL-LA)

Echo & the Bunnymen (Taylor Wong/LOL-LA)

The one song that really had me surprised and extremely excited was when they played “Black Girls.” The lyrics could be considered a bit controversial for a fair setting, but then again “Blister in the Sun” is about doing heroin. The other impressive part of the song “Black Girls” is that there is a breakdown of organized chaos in the form of different studio sounds and instruments. To do this live, they brought out extra members, and the bass player even had a conch shell solo.

After a beautiful set by Violent Femmes and a 30-minute intermission, Echo & the Bunnymen took to the stage. The one thing I appreciated about this lineup is the very different styles of music the two artists play.

The stage was dark for the Bunnymen, with a purple tint to the shadow that fell over them. Echo & the Bunnymen proved that they’ve still got it with an aggressive mix of their softer stuff with their more fast paced rock ’n’ roll.

Two songs in and they already brought in one of their hits “Rescue.” After that came a collection of songs for the fans.

Between songs, singer Ian McCulloch would try and talk to the crowd. Unfortunately his accent was so thick it could be confused for drunk gibberish.

They closed out the set with the hit song from Donnie Darko, “The Killing Moon,” going into “The Cutter” with an encore of “Lips Like Sugar.”

Taylor Wong is a Staff Photographer and Reporter for Living Out Loud - LA, covering arts and entertainment.

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