Wednesday, June 25
PLAN A: The Thermals, Barbarian, Soft Lions @ The Casbah. Portland trio The Thermals play punk that needs no prefixes or hyphens. Power chords, big choruses and a healthy distrust of authority—that's what they promise, and that's what they deliver. BACKUP PLAN: Pure X, SISU, M. Geddes Gengras @ The Hideout.
Thursday, June 26
PLAN A: Sly and Robbie, The Taxi Gang, Bitty McLean, DJ Carlos Culture @ Belly Up Tavern. Sly and Robbie were the original drum-and-bass duo—literally. Drummer Sly Dunbar and bassist Robbie Shakespeare have nearly 40 years of history crafting dub soundscapes, producing material by Horace Andy and Gregory Isaacs and collaborating with legends like Grace Jones and Serge Gainsbourg. Sly & Robbie are dub pioneers, so don't miss the chance to see them while they're here. PLAN B: Patrick Park, Noel Jordan, Josh Damigo @ The Casbah. I caught Patrick Park opening for Ed Harcourt about 10 years ago, and I became an instant fan. His blend of alt-country and indie folk has made for some excellent records, but if you want a chill but sublime Thursday night, this is the way to go.
Friday, June 27
PLAN A: Pity Sex, Dangers, Solids @ The Che Café. The Che Café is likely to be closed in a month, so you should take advantage of the opportunity to visit while you can. And this is a good show for it. Pity Sex have a powerful and fuzzy indie-rock sound that's reminiscent of Dinosaur Jr.'s best moments—bummed-out but bruising, and catchy as all get-out. PLAN B: Moving Units, Glass Spells, Barbarian (DJ set) @ The Hideout. Perhaps you prefer some sweet-ass disco sounds on your Friday night, in which case you should get your ass to this synth-heavy, cowbell-banging showcase. Dance-punk's not dead! BACKUP PLAN: Transfer, Not in the Face, Shake Before Us, Hong Kong Fuzz @ The Casbah.
Saturday, June 28
PLAN A: "June Gloom" w/ Armed for Apocalypse, Deep Sea Thunder Beast, Bhorelorde, Zsa Zsa Gabor @ The Bancroft. Got a case of reverse seasonal affective disorder? Come down to "June Gloom" and soak in some crushing doom, ranging from heavy and hard-rocking to abstract and weird. Hide from the sun while eight bands summon an unholy ruckus.
Sunday, June 29
PLAN A: EMA, Mas Ysa @ The Casbah. One of my absolute favorite songs this year is "Cthulu" from EMA's The Future's Void. It's an intense and draining song that finds a happy medium between PJ Harvey and Nine Inch Nails, and as it turns out, is just one of 10 stellar songs on the album. EMA—which stands for Erika M. Anderson—is a pretty intense performer in general, so that's all the more reason to participate in this cathartic experience. PLAN B: World Party, Gabriel Kelly @ Belly Up Tavern. If you need a reason to see World Party, look no further than Karl Wallinger's body of work: "Put the Message in the Box," "Is it Like Today?," "Way Down Now," etc. Need I say more?
Monday, June 30
PLAN A: Lee Fields and the Expressions, Sure Fire Soul Ensemble, DJ Claire @ The Casbah. Click here for Scott McDonald's feature story on soul singer Lee Fields, who's just as inspirational off the stage as he is when he's testifying to the ways of funk and rhythm 'n' blues. PLAN B: Ash Borer, Hell , Griever @ The Che Café. For the first of two sure-to-be amazing black-metal shows in town this week, Ash Borer promise a blistering and epic sound, with a sense of melody that manages to slip through all of the sheer menace they project. They're mysterious dudes and don't give any interviews, but at least you can have them blow your mind in person. BACKUP PLAN: King Khan and the Shrines, Red Mass @ Soda Bar.
Tuesday, July 1
PLAN A: Deafheaven, Wreck and Reference @ The Casbah. Last year, Deafheaven played the entirety of their amazing new album, Sunbather at The Void (R.I.P.), and it was, hands-down, one of the best shows I saw all year. So you'd better believe I'm not going to miss seeing the Bay Area metal / shoegaze band again for an epic show at The Casbah. PLAN B: Huey Lewis and the News @ Del Mar Fairgrounds. And now for something completely different! Huey Lewis' Sports was one of the first cassettes I remember being obsessed with (I was probably 5 or 6 years old), and I still have a soft spot for those cheese-tastic '80s hits. You've heard what the man said: It's hip to be square. So you might as well just embrace it.