Wednesday, Jan. 21
PLAN A: Waters, Ed Ghost Tucker, Bit Maps @ The Casbah. The name Waters sounds a little generic, but the music the group makes—booming, earnest rock in the vein of Saintseneca—sounds just fine to my ears. Make it early to catch local favorites Bit Maps and Ed Ghost Tucker. BACKUP PLAN: Madball, Donnybrook, Mizery, Take Offense @ Soda Bar.
Thursday, Jan. 22
PLAN A: Deep Sea Thunder Beast, North, Lazy Cobra @ Til-Two Club. Deep Sea Thunder Beast, fronted by Justin Cota, deals in much heavier stuff than Cota's other act, the duo Gloomsday. It's more of a sludgy, trippy, doom-metal kind of band, and they rock pretty damn hard. If you want a little bit of ringing in your ears on Friday morning, this is the place to be. PLAN B: La Diabla, Goma, Madly, DJ Unite, Las Sucias @ The Casbah. I recently caught cumbia group La Diabla at Soda Bar, and they put on a hell of a show, which included balaclavas and a dance contest. Their accordionist kind of rips, too, so there's no good reason to miss this Tijuana group in action.
Friday, Jan. 23
PLAN A: Ras Kass @ Porter's Pub. Some people talk about hip-hop in the '90s the way folks talk about rock music in the '70s, and I'm always a little hesitant to put too much emphasis on the past. But it was a renaissance for good reason, and one important, often overlooked player is Ras Kass, whose 1996 album Soul on Ice is a West Coast classic. PLAN B: The Donkeys, And And And, Ditches, Erik Canzona and the Narrows @ The Casbah. It's always fun to see a local show stacked with some great talent, up and down the lineup, and here's one of them. Every band here, from the lightly psychedelic pop of The Donkeys on down, is worth seeing, for unique reasons, so come early and get comfortable. BACKUP PLAN: Moon Hooch, Inspired and the Sleep, DJ Man Cat @ Soda Bar.
Saturday, Jan. 24
PLAN A: Helms Alee, Marriages, KATA @ The Hideout. Helms Alee might technically be a metal band, but I've seen them a few times, and, more often than not, they remind me more of a louder version of '90s post-hardcore bands Unwound or Lync. They've got great riffs and melodies, but with plenty of awesome power to spare. PLAN B: Paul Collins Beat, The Widows, Rich Hands, Amerikan Bear, Kids in Heat @ Til-Two Club. Paul Collins is a power-pop pioneer, having played in bands like The Beat and The Nerves, and though I wasn't there, I have it on good authority that his last time in San Diego was a fun show. Don't miss out like I did—go get that jangle.
Sunday, Jan. 25
PLAN A: The Coup, Odessa Kane, DJ Artistic @ The Casbah. The Coup are probably more famous for their Communist politics than their jams, of which they have many. If Public Enemy sounded more like Parliament, then you'd get something like this long-running hip-hop outfit. Now that's what I call a political party! PLAN B: Rogue Stereo, The Body Rampant, Ghost Parade, Little Heroine, Recluse @ Kensington Club. If what you seek involves more guitars than turntables, then this is a fine alternative, featuring five Southern California bands that have more power chords than they know what to do with. It's a $5 show, which makes it a dollar a band, so, put that way, I see no reason not to drop by and rock out.
Monday, Jan. 26
PLAN A: Weyes Blood, Mary Lattimore, Dominick Joseph Gambini @ The Hideout. Natalie Mering, aka Weyes Blood, makes dramatic music. Sometimes it's in the form of slow, piano-driven ballads, and sometimes it's eerie, folk-influenced art rock. But no matter what, it's layered, beautiful and rich in melody. BACKUP PLAN: Tactical Fever, Scuffs, Nice World @ The Casbah.
Tuesday, Jan. 27
PLAN A: Cult of Youth, Hive Mind, Geyser House @ Soda Bar. Take a gander at my feature story on New York's Cult of Youth, who funnel some dark visions into powerful post-punk songs on their new album, Final Days. If the final days are truly upon us, at least we've got a fiery house band to play us out. PLAN B: Mates of State, Fictionist @ The Casbah. Mates of State aren't the sort of band I'd ordinarily just queue up in iTunes, but I've seen them live before, and they're a blast to see in person. Sometimes you just need some good pop songs to keep you going, and Mates of State have more than their share.