Wednesday, June 26
PLAN A: Sleep Lady, Lord Howler, Wha? @ The Casbah. The best post-rock bands typically find a way to blend graceful instrumental passages, eerie atmosphere and moments of deafening intensity, and Sleep Lady does all of these in spades. Don't let the name fool you—there's nothing sleepy about them. PLAN B: Cosmonauts, The Ratts Revenge @ Tower Bar. A benefit of using lots of fuzz, reverb and delay is that, if your band sucks, the extra effects can cover up the blemishes. Then again, if your band rips as hard as Fullerton's acid-garage rockers Cosmonauts, the sonic treatments can make an already good thing better.
Thursday, June 27
PLAN A: Baths, Houses, D33J, Kill Quanti DJs @ The Casbah. Baths' Will Wiesenfeld first made a name for himself with a vibrant debut album titled Cerulean, but with his follow-up, Obsidian, he's taken his laptop-pop sound in a darker direction and given it an even broader sonic palette. Feel the sad vibes and dance with tears in your eyes. PLAN B: Prince Rama, Idyll Wild, Cathedral X, Succulents @ Soda Bar. The premise behind Prince Rama's album Top Ten Hits of the End of the World is that the band channeled and recorded music made by victims of the Apocalypse. A bit much, maybe, but the group makes excellent psych-pop, and their shows approach performance art. If the usual guitar-rock show isn't enough for you, head to this one. BACKUP PLAN: Mothership, Sewn Leather, Communion, Harsh Toke @ The Void.
Friday, June 28
PLAN A: Kendrick Lamar @ Del Mar Fairgrounds. Kendrick Lamar's good kid, m.A.A.d. city became an instant classic when it was released in October, thanks to his powerful mixture of lyrical skills and clear-eyed honesty, as well as a team of knockout producers. Seeing the Compton emcee makes navigating county-fair traffic worth the hassle. PLAN B: Big Business, Wha?, Archons @ Soda Bar. Coady Willis and Jared Warren of Big Business have backed The Melvins, so they've more than earned their sludge cred. But even without King Buzzo, they make some righteous, melodic metal. BACKUP PLAN: Soft Pack, Heavy Hawaii, Courtneys, Teenage Burritos @ Irenic.
Saturday, June 29
PLAN A: The New Kinetics, Chica Diabla, Shark Blood @ Tin Can Ale House. Wanna hear The New Kinetics' garage-pop tunes one more time? This is your last chance. The band's calling it a day, so make sure to soak in the hooks and harmonies before the party's over. PLAN B: Egyptian Lover, Body of Light, Polyphase, Sixties Guns @ The Void. Early-'80s electro / hip-hop innovator Egyptian Lover was a bit like the West Coast answer to Afrika Bambaataa, and the joint's likely to go off when he busts out jams like "Freak-A-holic" and "Egypt, Egypt." BACKUP PLAN: AM & Shawn Lee, Chicano Batman @ The Griffin.
Sunday, June 30
PLAN A: Monochromacy, Generik, No Know & Primitive Beats @ The Void. Esteban Flores, aka Monochromacy, is celebrating his debut release on the just-launched Stay Strange Records at the final Stay Strange Sunday. Grab a cassette and be consumed by ambient doom. PLAN B: Zavalaz, Dot Hacker @ The Casbah. Just after his Mars Volta bandmate Omar Rodriguez-Lopez plays The Casbah with Bosnian Rainbows, Cedric Bixler-Zavala plays in his new band, Zavalaz. Another new direction for the singer, Zavalaz is more spacey and soulful than before, though it's all-new material, so some surprises are in store. BACKUP PLAN: Oryx, Osedax @ Shakedown Bar.
Monday, July 1
PLAN A: Motive, The Darrows, Bonnie and the Bang Bang @ Soda Bar. Brooklyn's Motive wear suits and skinny ties, but their sound is much grungier than their look. Their songs could have been plucked from '90s alt-rock radio—before Creed and Nickelback ruined everything, that is.
Tuesday, July 2
PLAN A: La Luz @ The Void. If David Lynch started a surf-rock band, it might sound something like La Luz, an eerily cool band from Seattle, which, come to think of it, is just down the road from Twin Peaks. PLAN B: Chess Wars, Mrs. Henry, Octa#grape, Neighbors to the North @ The Griffin. Plenty of duos make enough noise for four musicians, but Chess Wars still have an impressively full sound. They also do a mean cover of Princeís "I Would Die 4 U." BACKUP PLAN: Ark Life, Rebecca Marie Miller, The Midnight Pine @ Soda Bar.