Wednesday, Dec. 12
PLAN A: Public Enemy @ House of Blues. The last time this iconic hip-hop group played in San Diego, the show was a little underwhelming because Chuck D had lost his voice; Chuck ended up apologizing for the show at North Park Music Thing. Here's hoping he'll put on a killer performance to make up for it. (This show has been moved from 4th & B.) PLAN B: Justin Townes Earle, Trixie Whitley @ Belly Up Tavern. Folk singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle has faced plenty of trials and tribulations throughout the years, and he digs right in on his latest album, this year's Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now, getting quiet and introspective but also flexing his honkytonk chops. PLAN C: Dee Dee & Brandon Duo, Heavy Hawaii, DJ Mario Orduno @ Soda Bar. Yep, that's a duo composed of Dum Dum Girls' Dee Dee and Crocodiles' Brandon Welchez. Expect to hear a new Christmas tune, "Merry Christmas, Baby (Please Don't Die)," during their acoustic set.
Thursday, Dec. 13
PLAN A1: The Sword, Gypsyhawk, American Sharks @ Brick by Brick. The metal loving hordes are sure to greet The Sword with devil horns and banging heads tonight. Following the gospel of Black Sabbath and Rush, they burst forth with classic-sounding, stoner-friendly riffs. (Check out our feature in last week's issue.) PLAN A2: The Soft Moon, Group Rhoda, Tropical Popsicle, DJ Art Vandelay @ Soda Bar. As you'll read in our feature, San Francisco post-punks The Soft Moon conjure dark, apocalyptic visions with their driving, synth-powered anthems. Operating more on velocity and texture than hooks, their songs are so immersive that you're bound to get sucked right in.
Friday, Dec. 14
PLAN A: The Growlers, TRMRS, Barbarian @ The Casbah. Orange County's The Growlers describe themselves as "beachgoth," but I think of them more as ghostpirates. Whatever the case, their crusty, lofi garage-rock sounds happy yet haunting. (They're also playing at The Casbah on Saturday, Dec. 15.) PLAN B: Boy King, River City, DJs Robin Roth, Terryn S. @ Whistle Stop. Local music writers have been raving about Boy King lately, hailing them as the city's next big blues-rock act. I'm more skeptical—their recordings are nothing I haven't heard before—but I'm eager to check them out onstage to see what all the fuss is about. BACKUP PLAN: The Soft Pack, Plateaus, Ale Mania @ The Griffin.
Saturday, Dec. 15
PLAN A: Trans Am, High Places, Man Forever, Life Coach @ Soda Bar. What do these bands have in common? They're all on Thrill Jockey Records, a Chicago indie label that's been putting out rad records since 1992. To commemorate its 20th anniversary, the label's planned a diverse showcase: Trans Am plays mind-melting space-rock while High Places does whimsical, rhythmic electro-pop. PLAN B: Dead Animal Mod, Stupid Man Suit, Vaginals, Penis Hickey @ Tin Can Ale House. It's been years since John Zorn's avant-death-jazz combo Naked City played a show, but its spirit is alive and well with these bands. Featuring dueling baritone sax players, L.A. combo Stupid Man Suit infuses jazz with grinding punk intensity. Vaginals, meanwhile, do something weirdly different every time I see them. BACKUP PLAN: King Tuff, The KABBs, Chango Rey & His Broken Heart Beat, Poontang Clam @ Til-Two Club.
Sunday, Dec. 16
PLAN A: Poor Moon, Pure Bathing Culture, The KABBs @ The Casbah. The side project of two members of Fleet Foxes, Seattle's Poor Moon play lush, full-bodied indie-pop that sounds a lot simpler than it actually is. With the help of unique instruments like harpsichord and marimba, their songs have an understated tension and a retro, '60s tint. BACKUP PLAN: DPI, Toothless George, The Wagon, Castoff @ The Ruby Room.
Monday, Dec. 17
PLAN A: Night Beats, Wild Wild Wets, The Woolen Men @ Soda Bar. Harking back to Texas psych bands like The 13th Floor Elevators, Seattle's Night Beats are as trippy as they are primitive, dishing out scuzzy licks over crude beats. BACKUP PLAN: The Grouch & Eligh, Mistah F.A.B., Prof, DJ Fresh @ Porter's Pub.
Tuesday, Dec. 18
PLAN A: Diplo @ Voyeur. Diplo is probably in a really good mood right now. The world-renowned DJ and producer just bagged a Grammy nomination for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical, so don't be surprised if he gets extra-cray tonight.