California has been well received by critics. A positive review came from Pitchfork, who called it "one of those albums that you can't believe a major label had anything to do with", writing, "the more I listen to California, the more I'm convinced that Mike Patton is really the devil on holiday."
California was originally scheduled for release on June 8, 1999, but Warner delayed it by several days so as not to coincide with RHCP's similarly titled album Californication. During the summer and fall tour to promote the album, Mr. Bungle's agent booked the group for several major music festivals in Europe, but the band got removed from all of them at the last minute, apparently at the behest of RHCP frontman Anthony Kiedis (because they were the headlining band, they retained the right to choose what acts could and couldn't perform with them). The incident was a resurfacing of an old quarrel between RHCP and Mike Patton's previous group Faith No More that had occurred in 1989 when Kiedis accused Patton of copying his mannerisms on stage, especially in the music video for the song Epic.
Upset at the cancelled festival dates, Mr. Bungle retaliated by giving a concert on Halloween Night where they parodied several RHCP songs and ridiculed their onstage mannerisms and sound. Trevor Dunn later published a lengthy diatribe on his personal website which stated "Flea, in all seriousness, really isn't that good. I mean, c'mon. The Red Hot Chili Peppers were vaguely interesting in the late 80s, but Christ they fucking suck, they suck."