Wednesday, July 30
PLAN A: Idlehands, Icarus the Owl, Throne @ Soda Bar. We've entered a new age of earnestness in music, it seems, and local quartet Idlehands are a prime example of what happens when you pair melodic indie-rock arrangements with, you know, feelings. OK, now I'm having a moment.
Thursday, July 31
PLAN A: The Hold Steady, Cheap Girls @ Belly Up Tavern. I've seen The Hold Steady a couple of times, and each show has been an ideal of what a live rock 'n' roll event should be. Their songs are catchy, they rock hard and the good times never stop. If only every group of dudes with guitars slung from their shoulders could pull it off with such ease. PLAN B: Stalins of Sound, Way to Go Genius, Talk Sick Brats, Poontang Clam @ Tower Bar. Sometimes I'm tempted to recommend a show on the basis of the bands' names alone—like, for instance, Way to Go Genius and Poontang Clam. They just happen to both be super-fun punk bands, though, and with Stalins of Sound headlining the whole shebang, you pretty much can't lose. BACKUP PLAN: Blu, MED @ The Casbah.
Friday, Aug. 1
PLAN A: "San Diego Freakout" w/ SISU, Wild Wild Wets, Wax Children, DJ Mario Orduno @ The Hideout. Whenever the San Diego Freakout goes down, it almost always gets a Plan A, simply because that's where you're likely to find a pretty badass lineup of (mostly local) bands. This installment is headlined by the trippy SISU, helmed by Dum Dum Girls' Sandra Vu. But you should absolutely get there early enough to see the Wets and Los Angeles psych-rockers Wax Children. PLAN B: Egyptian Lover, XL Middleton and Monique, Brian Ellis' Reflection @ Til-Two Club. Electro / hip-hop legend Egyptian Lover rose to prominence in the '80s, thanks to Kraftwerk-ian jams like "Egypt Egypt" and weirder, sexually charged anthems like "Freak-a-holic." But he's been going strong for more than 30 years, and he'll absolutely bring some electro-funk to El Cajon Boulevard. BACKUP PLAN: Mr. Tube and the Flying Objects, Gletscher, Octagrape, Die Mi?bildungen Die Menschen @ The Casbah.
Saturday, Aug. 2
PLAN A: The Budos Band, Schitzophonics, DJ Claire @ The Casbah. The Budos Band make some of the sweetest, most righteous contemporary funk around, and after four years, they're finally releasing a new album called Burnt Offering. It's about time! So make sure your ass is good and ready to move at this one. PLAN B: Xeno & Oaklander, Flaamingos, Permanence @ The Hideout. Brooklyn duo Xeno & Oaklander (not their real names) are one of a few contemporary groups that keep the coldwave flame alive and burning. Their synth-driven melodies are minimal, but memorable. And though their arrangements are sparse, they're quite stunning in a sad-robot kind of way. BACKUP PLAN: The English Beat, Aloha Radio @ Belly Up Tavern.
Sunday, Aug. 3
PLAN A: David Kilgour and the Heavy Eights, The Shifting Sands @ Soda Bar. In the 1980s, David Kilgour fronted New Zealand indie-pop band The Clean, who became underground favorites on the strength of singles like "Tally Ho!" With his current band, The Heavy Eights, he continues to crank out gorgeously accessible jangle-pop tunes that prove that classic melodies are alive and well. PLAN B: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Steve Winwood @ Viejas Arena. When it comes to earnest rock 'n' roll, I'll take Springsteen over Tom Petty. But that doesn't mean the dude doesn't have some serious tunes. "American Girl," "Runnin' Down a Dream"—the list goes on. BACKUP PLAN: Shannon and the Clams, Colleen Green, Ruby Pins @ The Casbah.
Monday, Aug. 4
PLAN A: Bonnie Montgomery, Erika Davies @ Soda Bar. Monday's a good night to take a break from pummeling your ears with noisy, snotty punk bands. So, instead, check out Bonnie Montgomery, an Arkansas singer / songwriter who sometimes sounds a bit like Patsy Cline fronting a twangier Crazy Horse. That's more or less a perfect formula for country rock, if you ask me.
Tuesday, Aug. 5
PLAN A: Arcade Fire, Spoon, Dan Deacon @ Sleep Train Amphitheatre. Arcade Fire were destined for bigger things pretty much since the beginning. Way back in 2004, they sold out The Casbah in a ridiculously short amount of time and filled up Spreckels Theatre just a few years later. Now they're headlining one of the biggest arenas in the county, so I think it's safe to call them rock stars. They've earned it.