Wednesday, May 2
PLAN A: Sara Watkins, Noah Gundersen @ Anthology. Americana luminary Sara Watkins has been keeping plenty busy in recent years, launching a solo career and touring with The Decemberists and Garrison Keillor. On her new record, Sun Midnight Sun, the fiddle-playing North County songwriter continues to push folk in new directions, partly thanks to guests like Fiona Apple and Jackson Browne. PLAN B: Father John Misty, Har Mar Superstar @ The Casbah. Earlier this year, songwriter Josh Tillman quit playing drums for Fleet Foxes, took on the name Father John Misty and signed a deal with Sub Pop. On his new album, Fear Fun, he gives the atmospheric beauty of Fleet Foxes a darker, more mysterious and alluring tint. BACKUP PLAN: Brothers in a Bind @ Riviera Supper Club.
Thursday, May 3
PLAN A: Kenseth and Brandon, Dead Animal Mod, Realization Orchestra, Tactical Ffever @ Tin Can Ale House. Expect incredible weirdness to abound at this show: Mathrockers Dead Animal Mod have all the refinement of a sewer rat, and spazz-jazz outfit Realization Orchestra owes as much to Devo as Captain Beefheart. Don't worry, though, Kenseth and Brandon will even things out with their heady space-rock. PLAN B: Tennis, Vacationer @ The Casbah. Tennis might not be blowing minds with their breezy beach-pop, but they'll certainly put a smile on your sunburned face. BACKUP PLAN: Emalkay @ Voyeur.
Friday, May 4
PLAN A: The Heavy Guilt, The Black Sands, The New Kinetics, Dark Thirty @ The Griffin. As I write on here, folk-rockers The Black Sands are celebrating the release of a great new album, 1977, which mixes twanging Americana with brooding, atmospheric alt-rock. Make sure to stick around for the band's big brother, The Heavy Guilt (they share members and songwriters), who've been shredding like crazy lately. PLAN B: Night Beats, Cosmonauts, Wild Wild Wets, Bear Slim @ Soda Bar. One of the best bands I saw at South by Southwest this year was Cosmonauts, an Orange County outfit whose pummeling drone-rock jams left me mesmerized. I'm also curious to see garage-rock scorchers Night Beats and locals Wild Wild Wets, a new band featuring members of The Old In Out. BACKUP PLAN: X, Oogly Boogly @ Belly Up.
Saturday, May 5
PLAN A: Club i-D @ Mississippi Room at The Lafayette Hotel. When San Diego was a real backwater in the '80s, Club i-D was perhaps the city's coolest roving dance party, attracting hundreds of people every week with an eclectic mix of new-wave, goth and obscure cuts (Japanese kabuki music, anyone?). With so many years to make up for, this reunion show is bound to be a good time. PLAN B: Portugal. The Man, The Lonely Forest @ 4th & B. I can't get over Portugal. The Man's absurd name (seriously, what's up with that punctuation?), but they've won me over with their sweeping, arena-ready riffs; artsy, glam-rock leanings; and catchy hooks. BACKUP PLAN: B-Side Players, Stranger, Mariachi, Tribe of Kings @ House of Blues.
Sunday, May 6
PLAN A: Allo Darlin', The Wave Pictures, Red Pony Clock @ The Casbah. With the recent release of the new album by Allo Darlin', Europe, the London band has solidified its status as heir to the twee-pop throne. Even if you've never heard the likes of Talulah Gosh and Belle and Sebastian, though, you're bound to find their sparkling melodies and buoyant beats infectious. BACKUP PLAN: Devin the Dude, Monkey Beezness, Ryan Bowers, TrackWide, Black Resume @ Porter's Pub.
Monday, May 7
PLAN A: Washed Out, Memoryhouse @ Porter's Pub. Washed Out's dreamy, laid-back synth-pop might feel profoundly out-of-touch with the world, but the part of me that prefers baked goods over nonfiction books can't help but groove to the project's iridescent textures, cuddly melodies and propulsive beats. BACKUP PLAN: Rocky Votolato, Kevin Long @ The Casbah.
Tuesday, May 8
PLAN A: Art of Élan presents Americana @ San Diego Museum of Art. The final concert in Art of Élan's fifth season will also be its coolest, with folkies The Tree Ring teaming up with chamber-music players to perform a new, boundary-blurring work by composer Jonathan Holland. PLAN B: Freddie Gibbs @ The Loft at UCSD. Gary, Ind., street rapper Freddie Gibbs is one of the most talented MCs around today. End of story. BACKUP PLAN: Ramona Falls, Social Studies @ The Casbah.