Wednesday, April 29
PLAN A: Helmet @ Belly Up Tavern. Helmet's Betty was the first CD I ever bought. So I can't help but feel a certain nostalgia trip knowing that the band will be playing the album in its entirety at this show. It's technically not even the same band anymore, but Page Hamilton is still the guy in charge, and "Wilma's Rainbow" most certainly still kicks ass. PLAN B: Doldrums, Moon King, Soft Lions @ Soda Bar. Canada's Doldrums aren't at all as dull and lifeless as their name would suggest. Nope—they're a highly danceable and lively group, with big synthesizers and bigger melodies. Dance away the bad vibes at this show.
Thursday, April 30
PLAN A: Inter Arma, Yautja, KATA @ Soda Bar. Richmond, Virginia's Inter Arma is maybe doom metal, maybe black metal and maybe sludge as well. You can hear elements of all of these sounds and more in their thick, powerful metal sound, and it's all amazing. I saw them at SXSW in 2013 and they destroyed, so I expect they'll do the same in our fair city. PLAN B: Juice Box @ Seven Grand. Instrumental funk and soul group Juice Box was a highlight from this year's Great Demo Review, and I just can't stop listening to the grooves they cook up. Settle in with a whiskey cocktail and let them carry you into the weekend. BACKUP PLAN: THEESatisfaction @ Porterís Pub.
Friday, May 1
PLAN A: The Soft Moon, Skull Katalog @ The Casbah. If you were actually me, you'd be in Los Angeles watching Sleater-Kinney. But don't let that stop you from seeing industrial coldwave act The Soft Moon, who conjures up an amazingly dark atmosphere via a synth-heavy sound.
Saturday, May 2
PLAN A: Neil Hagerty, Octagrape, The Cardielles @ The Hideout. Neil Hagerty has recorded several solo albums, as well as with Howling Hex, and written his share of prose and other various projects. But he's probably best known for being the mastermind behind twisted noise-blues band Royal Trux. No matter what, he's got a lot of great material, which will make this show one not to miss. PLAN B: 'In Ko Pah 2' w/ The Loons, Schitzophonics, Playboy Manbaby @ Desert View Tower. This show is a unique one, and to get there, you've got to drive out to the desert. But because In Ko Pah is an outdoor desert festival where you can camp and chill in the middle of nowhere, it's not an experience you'll get anywhere else. Plus there's some good bands playing, which is a plus. Backup Plan: Kodak to Graph, Obseon, Mystery Cave @ The Casbah.
Sunday, May 3
PLAN A: They Might Be Giants @ Belly Up Tavern. I can't say I've kept up with They Might Be Giants' career that well since the '90s, but their catalog has so many highlights that it almost doesn't matter. This is one of those "An evening with" shows, which means there's no opener. Sit back and sing along.
Monday, May 4
PLAN A: Taurus Authority, Podunk Nowhere, Rosewood and Rye @ Soda Bar. Mondays always tend to be a little bit slower than the rest of the week, but I always look at it as an opportunity to go see some local bands. Here's a pair of quieter, more folk-sounding groups in town, along with a soulful and funky headliner, which is a great option when you're not quite ready to face the week at full volume.
Tuesday, May 5
PLAN A: Lightning Bolt, Liturgy, Hot Nerds @ The Casbah. Read my feature this week on noise rock duo Lightning Bolt, who keep making interesting and powerful sounds after 20 years together. Their new album Fantasy Empire is a beast, and they absolutely kill live. PLAN B: Mariachi El Bronx, Tijuana Panthers, Pounded By the Surf @ Belly Up Tavern. If you want to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, you could do worse than seeing Mariachi El Bronx, who are basically California's top punk mariachi band. There might be others, but you can't really beat 'em.