Wednesday, July 1
If beautiful, soul-crushing guitar noise is your thing, then local musician Nathan Aguilar's Census project is a must-see. Part of a lineage including My Bloody Valentine, Fennesz and Belong, Aguilar's approach to the instrument is all about creating an otherworldly ambiance. There are no songs, really, just a series of drones and samples running through several effects pedals until they become part of the environment. You won't even need to pay attention to Aguilar's process—just sit back and let the sound wash over you like slow waves of warm water. And if you're not into the whole “relaxing” vibe, the young exuberance of Volts and The Zion Laser Strike's revolving freak-outs provide excellent counterpoints. At Radio Room.
I haven't heard anything by DJ Quik since 2000's “Pitch in on a Party” was ubiquitous at gatherings during my junior year of high school, but in hindsight, he was consistently two steps ahead of prevailing West Coast trends, accentuating his beats with a fluid musicality uncommon for most hip-hop producers. Always more focused on having a good time than gangster fantasizing, it's only fitting that Quik's latest—BlaQKout, a collaboration with Kurupt—sounds like the freshest party album in ages. I was never much of a G-Funk fan, but it's hard to deny the appeal of his latest work. There are no opening acts confirmed for his show at House of Blues, but it's a good bet that Kurupt will show up with a posse of four or five hype-men you've never heard of. It wouldn't be a hip-hop show without an entourage ($23).
Friday, July 3
Visit local bars with any frequency, and it'll be hard to miss The Dabbers, a two-piece consisting of Kill Me Tomorrow drummer Zack Wentz and ex-BRAAIINS bassist Shelby Gubba. Essentially a poppier, sloppier version of the former, it hasn't taken long for the duo to put together a solid set and make their name by playing pretty much every venue, with every musician, in San Diego. OK, that may be an exaggeration, but Wentz is one of the finest drummers (and mustache cultivators) in town, and Gubba's filthy bass lines are agile enough to fill everything out. Also playing are L.A.'s The Kris Special and Eliza Rickman, as well as San Diego natives Ded Pigeons, whose drifting, droning psychedelia makes as much room for free jazz influences as it does for '70s hard rock. At Soda Bar.
Saturday, July 4
It doesn't really matter how patriotic you are—Independence Day is custom-made for drinking and barbecuing, so get your ass out there to celebrate. And after a long day in the sun charring meat (and your skin), nothing should put the day to rest like a good rock show. Even if they might be nearly as drunk as you are at that point, local band Northern Towns will probably tear your face off at Radio Room with their blend of '77 punk, modern hardcore and mod-rock. If you're the kind of person who thinks rebellion is inherently patriotic, this should be where you end the evening.
Sunday, July 5
Who doesn't love a good bar band? By “bar band,” I'm not talking about a bunch of 50-year-old dads playing Eric Clapton covers for the weekend-warrior crowd. I'm talking about a group like Seattle's The Moondoggies, who do things like play for free at Bar Pink the day after Independence Day. A band that sounds wholeheartedly American enough to open for The Boss. A band that choogles and shakes like Creedence Clearwater Revival covering gospel songs. A band so uncool by their very nature that they become cool again. Put on your dancing shoes, 'cause this could be a fun one, even if you're only one of 10 people in the audience.
On one hand, it's wonderful to hear that bands like Phoenix's Pigeon Religion and San Francisco's High Castle have found a forum for expressing their negative tendencies. On the other hand, if they're gonna do this sludgy, oppressive downer stuff, there needs to be memorable songs (see: Flipper, early Christian Death, Jesus Lizard, etc.) to make it stand out. Not that Pigeon Religion or High Castle don't have what it takes—it's just that it'll be awhile before they distinguish themselves, as both bands are still in varying stages of infancy. Functioning as elder statesmen here are L.A.-by-way-of-SF experimentalists 60-Watt Kid, who are essentially the opposite of the former two bands, instead focusing on a whimsical, almost Dadaist variation of krautrock. It's another weird one at Soda Bar.
Monday, July 6
Note the similarities between Austin's Strange Boys and San Diego's The Anasazis. Both play a primitive form of garage rock that sounds like it would fit in well on one of Lenny Kaye's Nuggets comps. Both are made up of skinny young gentlemen who look to be barely of drinking age. However, one is preparing for a European tour and has Rolling Stone's full backing, and the other is slowly on its way to greater recognition. See if you can figure out which is which at The Casbah. Atlanta girl-punks The Coathangers and shamanic outsiders Heavy Hawaii also perform, with music in between sets by DJ Mario Orduno ($8).