Wednesday, July 16
PLAN A: The Antlers, Thus Owls @ Belly Up Tavern. New York's The Antlers have been making dreamy indie rock for nearly a decade and grow more interesting with each release. Their new album, Familiars, is particularly ambitious, bringing to mind the expansive post-rock symphonies of Sigur Rós, but with bigger hooks. Still, their song "I Don't Want Love" is all you need to hear to know this is a show to see. PLAN B: Chris Isaak @ Humphreys by the Bay. Whenever I hear a song with a similar chord progression as Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game," I pretty much love it instantly. And it happens without fail. The only conclusion I can draw from that is that "Wicked Game" itself is a pretty stellar song. And Isaak's got plenty more where that came from. BACKUP PLAN: Fat History Month, Dust from 1000 Years, Nothingful, Crooked Rulers @ Til-Two Club.
Thursday, July 17
PLAN A: Some Ember, Body of Light, DJ Mario Orduno @ Whistle Stop Bar. Oakland's Some Ember are the first non-cassette-only signing to Mario Orduno's boutique label, Dream, and they're definitely going to be a band to watch. They have a hypnotic, synth-laden sound with gothic overtones, not unlike Cold Cave or Future Islands, but with some even more sinister underpinnings. PLAN B: Planes Mistaken for Stars, All Eyes West, I Wish I @ The Casbah. Planes Mistaken for Stars are one of the most curious punk bands of the early '00s, blending the melodies of emo with the burly thunder of metal, not to mention post-hardcore's angularity somewhere in between. They're back, and there aren't too many bands like them, so get on it. BACKUP PLAN: Glass Spells, Avid Dancer, Bulletproof Tiger, Letters from Readers, Cobra Kills DJs @ Soda Bar.
Friday, July 18
PLAN A: Craft Spells, The Bilinda Butchers, Wizard Woes @ The Hideout. It might seem a little confusing that a band called Craft Spells is playing in San Diego a day after Glass Spells, but names are getting scarce these days. Anyhow, Craft Spells is an excellent Seattle-based band with a penchant for multi-layered shoegaze sounds, heavy on ethereal production and wonderful melodies. BACKUP PLAN: Pinback, LIFE @ The Casbah.
Saturday, July 19
PLAN A: Bob Log III, Badabing, The Department of Descriptive Service @ The Casbah. Bob Log III is the weirdest man in blues rock. He sings through a modified fighter pilot's helmet with a microphone inside, provides his own stomping, Rube Goldberg-device drums and once recorded an album using a pair of breasts as percussion. I'll bet Jack White would never have thought of that. PLAN B: Dwarves, Queers, Masked Intruder, The Atom Age @ Soda Bar. It's easy to understand why Dwarves have such a fervent cult following. They've got a fun, sleazy sound that has a tendency to erupt with violent intensity—not to mention some pretty tightly written tunes—and a penchant for nudity. As lowbrow goes, it's some of the best around.
Sunday, July 20
PLAN A: Zongo Junction, Afrolicious, Tori Roze and the Hot Mess @ The Casbah. Afrobeat shows in San Diego are rare enough that when a good one comes along, it's almost guaranteed to be Plan A—like this one! Zongo Junction are a massive ensemble that pack a whole lot of funk into their Fela Kuti-inspired jams.
Monday, July 21
PLAN A: Kawehi @ Soda Bar. Until this week, I had no idea who Kawehi was. But look her up on YouTube, and you'll find a wealth of videos of her covering a variety of songs with little more than her voice and a loop pedal—often recorded in her apartment. And they're all surprisingly good. Just a warning: Her take on Nine Inch Nails' "Closer" might make your blood pressure, um, rise.
Tuesday, July 22
PLAN A: Cayucas, Hands, Idyll Wild @ The Casbah. I don't always believe that summer calls for summer-y music, but sometimes you just have to go with the flow. And music doesn't get more breezy and laid-back than Cayucas. They may be playing at The Casbah, but it should be easy enough to imagine yourself on a beach with a daiquiri in your hand. PLAN B: Emerald Rats, Witness 9, Vegetarian Werewolf @ Soda Bar. Emerald Rats is the solo project of Wild Wild Wets singer Mike Turi, and it's pretty damn fun. Heavier on electronics than his other band, Emerald Rats is like a one-man Joy Division or Echo and the Bunnymen filtered through a sampler. And, yeah, there's a little bit of the Wets' trippy aesthetic in there, too.