Wednesday, July 31
PLAN A: Jesca Hoop, Gayle Skidmore, Vajna James @ The Casbah. The story everyone tells about Jesca Hoop is that she was a nanny for Tom Waits' kids once, but musically, a more prominent influence is U.K. art-pop queen Kate Bush. Hoop has a similarly ambitious and climactically sprawling pop sound, with a touch of English folk influence for good measure. PLAN B: Naam, Joy, Tar Halos, Sacri Monti @ Soda Bar. Heavy psychedelic band Naam find an interesting middle ground between thunderous, Sabbath-like stoner metal and swirling, trippy textures. They're certainly not the first ones to stumble upon such a combination, but their version is plenty kickass. Warning: Expect to get a contact high.
Thursday, Aug. 1
PLAN A: Balmorhea, Mattson 2 @ The Casbah. Balmorhea, from Austin, Texas, would most likely fit under the "post-rock" umbrella, though their sound is so meditative and atmospheric that there's hardly anything "rock" about it. Take a break from eardrum-buzzing punk shows and drift away.
Friday, Aug. 2
PLAN A: Wild Wild Wets @ Seven Grand. Local garage rockers Wild Wild Wets put on a trippy multimedia show that pairs best with hallucinogenics, but those aren't really legal, so how about a nice aged whiskey at Seven Grand instead? PLAN B: Watercolor Paintings, Sledding with Tigers, Joshua Stevens, Jonathon Barefoot, The Nobles @ The Che Café. The Che is hosting something it's calling "Every Day is a Fest Fest," which is apparently not really a festival, just a heavily stacked show featuring the witty, catchy, percussion-free tunes of folk-punks Sledding With Tigers. That's reason enough to go, but they're just one of a half-dozen bands folkin' around at this not-a-fest fest. BACKUP PLAN: Astro, Late Nite Howl @ Til-Two Club.
Saturday, Aug. 3
PLAN A: Daughn Gibson, William Tyler, Jesse Lamonaca @ The Casbah. Read my feature story about Daughn Gibson here to get acquainted with this singer-songwriter, who specializes in sample-based cowboy noir. He's touring with a full band right now, which promises an extra-heavy take on his outlaw trip-hop. Don your best Western shirt and watch out for hitchhiking ghosts. PLAN B: Blackalicious, Orgone @ Belly Up Tavern. Blackalicious haven't released a new album in eight years. That's about three career spans in hip-hop years, but the Davis, Calif., group's back catalog still holds up nicely. "Deception," "Make You Feel that Way," "A to G"—it's all good, and if you're lucky, they might just drop a few new numbers into the set, as well. BACKUP PLAN: Chris Isaak @ Humphrey's Concerts by the Bay.
Sunday, Aug. 4
PLAN A: "A Tribute to Le Hot Club de France" with Allison Adams Tucker, Lou Fanucchi, Dusty Brough, Evona Wascinski, Richard Sellers, Chris Vitas @ Dizzy's. Very few of us can take a Lear jet to Paris at a moment's notice, but Dizzy's is offering the next best thing with a tribute to the sounds of Paris in the 1930s. Local jazz musicians take on the music of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grapelli, Astor Piazzolla, Edith Piaf and more at this special showcase. Trés bien!
Monday, Aug. 5
PLAN A: Vampire, Dancing Strangers, Music My Soulmate @ The Casbah. One need not look too hard for an excuse to dress in black, pull on fishnets and become a creature of the night, but here's a good one anyway. Local occult-wavers Vampire headline a wonderfully gothic showcase that also includes Tijuana post-punks Dancing Strangers. It feels good to feel bad again. PLAN B: The Heavy, The Silent Comedy @ Belly Up Tavern. You'll probably recognize The Heavy for their song "How You Like Me Now?" which was placed in a Kia commercial depicting children's toys breakdancing. And there's a lot more fun where that came from, as the band's mix of psychedelic rock, funk and soul makes for a hell of a dance party.
Tuesday, Aug. 6
PLAN A: Rush Midnight, Psychic Rites, Blacktop Royalty @ Soda Bar. If you don't know the name Rush Midnight, you'll probably recognize Russ Manning's other band, Twin Shadow. As bass player in that group, Manning laid down some solid grooves beneath ethereal new-wave textures, but now he's stepping up as frontman. As it turns out, Twin Shadow's George Lewis Jr. produced some of his new music, so the funky new-wave vibe remains. BACKUP PLAN: The Nformals, Buddy Banter, Gone Baby Gone, The Frights @ The Griffin.