Wednesday, Jan. 15
PLAN A: Diamond Lakes, The Nformals, West Beast, Dead Satellites @ Soda Bar. Diamond Lakes describe themselves as "loud power pop" on their Facebook page, which is a pretty accurate description. They're a noisy, grungy, hard-rocking group, but they don't skimp on melody. I hear a little bit of Dinosaur Jr. and late-'90s Guided by Voices in their sound, both of which get a big thumbs up from this guy.
Thursday, Jan. 16
PLAN A: Crooks on Tape @ Soda Bar. Comprising members of Enon and Skeleton Key, Crooks on Tape is just as weird and twitchy as their personnel would suggest. That's a good thing, of course—new album Fingerprint is full of synth-laden, oddball gems, as catchy as they are disorienting. This should be a fun one. PLAN B: Hounds of Hate, Sleep Walk, Bay of Pigs @ The Che Café. I never really got into the straight-edge thing. Even before I was of legal drinking age, and despite the fact that I can appreciate a good Minor Threat throwdown, it seemed unusually conservative and not very fun for punk rock. But there are exceptions: Hardcore group Hounds of Hate is, indeed, pretty fun—and heavy as fuck. You can't drink at the Che anyway, so you might as well be intoxicated by riffs. BACKUP PLAN: Grand Tarantula, Tiny Telephones, Wild Wild Wets @ Club 207, Hard Rock Hotel.
Friday, Jan. 17
PLAN A: Wild Ones @ Whistle Stop Bar. Portland's Wild Ones have a dreamy, super-catchy, synth-laden pop sound that's likely to make them big in 2014. They're radio-friendly, but with plenty of charm to spare. PLAN B: Gungor @ House of Blues. Gungor is married couple Michael and Lisa Gungor, whose Christian background and gorgeous chamber-pop arrangements draw an easy comparison to Sufjan Stevens. Their songs aren't quite that good, but they're definitely worth hearing. BACKUP PLAN: Travesura, Fine Minds, Northern Tigers @ Til-Two Club.
Saturday, Jan. 18
PLAN A: Parquet Courts, Destruction Unit, Grand Tarantula, Shiva Trash @ The Che Cafe. Parquet Courts made a big impression last year with their album Light Up Gold, which found the New York group injecting taut, catchy, post-punk jangle full of philosophical musings and stoned, stream-of-consciousness lyrics. It's not overly elaborate or fussy, but damn is it good. PLAN B: San Diego School of Rock perform San Diegoís Hits @ The Irenic. San Diego's School of Rock has been getting more ambitious with its rock-stars-in-training showcases, recently putting on a full performance of Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. But this time around, the kids are taking on some of the best of San Diego's musical offerings. On the syllabus are songs by Mrs. Magician, Night Marchers, The Heavy Guilt, The Album Leaf and—in what I can only imagine will be something mind-blowing—The Locust. BACKUP PLAN: Maria Taylor, PJ Bond, Mariel @ Soda Bar.
Sunday, Jan. 19
PLAN A: Volcano Choir, The Cloak Ox @ House of Blues. If you read my article about Volcano Choir here, you'll know why I think they're vastly more interesting than Justin Vernon's other project, Bon Iver. They've got complex mathematical arrangements and hypnotic grooves, but, most importantly, they know how to rock when it counts. PLAN B: Idols Plague, Nerve Control, Bridge Jumper, Groove of Death @ Tower Bar. On the other hand, if you're in the mood for something that grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go until you're just about to collapse, check out Idols Plague, a local duo that pounds out some wonderfully vicious crossover thrash.
Monday, Jan. 20
PLAN A: Weedeater, Black Cobra, Archons, Eukaryst @ Soda Bar. I'm not crazy about Weedeater—I saw them at SXSW once and, as heavy as their music is, there's not a whole lot happening. I am, however, pretty enthusiastic about Black Cobra, who deliver some impressively dense sludge for just two guys. Get there a little early for Archons and Eukaryst to hear how San Diego does metal.
Tuesday, Jan. 21
PLAN A: D.P.I., The Touchies, Sculpins @ The Casbah. D.P.I. stands for "Drunkin Punkin Idiots," and that gives you a pretty good idea of what you're in for at one of their shows: messy, chaotic and booze-drenched punk rock. Get an early start on countering your mid-week lull with this sure-to-be-rowdy show.