PLAN A: Aloe Blacc, The Grand Scheme, Maya Jupiter, DJ Claire @ The Casbah. An underground rapper-turned-soul singer who usually appears in a spiffy white suit and red bowtie, Aloe Blacc just put out a solid album of tidy R&B cuts, Good Things. The record's triumphant hooks belie the hardluck theme of its most popular single, “I Need a Dollar.” PLAN B: La Femme @ The Royal Dive (Oceanside). A Parisian band on its maiden U.S. tour, La Femme merge propulsive new-wave grooves à la The Cars, kitschy electronic sound effects and reverb-drenched guitars in infectious gems like “Sur La Planche.” BACKUP PLAN: Trudgers, Ghost Shores, Ancient Crux, Cascavell @ Soda Bar.
Thursday, Dec. 2
PLAN A: Nocando, DJ Nobody @ The Loft at UCSD. Don't have time to drive to Los Angeles to check out Low End Theory, the weekly showcase that's the epicenter of the city's storied “beat scene”? Well, this show is a suitable alternative. Low End Theory host Nocando, a veteran L.A. battle rapper, has vanquished hundreds of MCs the world over. DJ Nobody, another Low End Theory fixture, puts down psychedelic grooves for a range of MCs and recently put out a solid solo record of off-kilter, Auto-Tuned electro-pop. PLAN B: Waka Flocka Flame @ On Broadway. With the gruff rhymes and portentous beats of his 2010 debut, Flockaveli, Georgia rapper (and Gucci Mane mentee) Waka Flocka Flame makes clear that he could effortlessly lick any of the Ed Hardy-donning Gaslamp regulars who show up to this show. PLAN C: Bostich Fussible, Smile Now Cry Later, DJ SK @ The Casbah. If you like your club beats with Norteño-style accordion and field recordings of Tijuana street scenes, this is the dance party for you. BACKUP PLAN: The Grouch, Brother Ali, Eligh, Los Rakas @ Sound Wave.
Friday, Dec. 3
PLAN A: Nicki Minaj @ On Broadway. Pink Friday, Minaj's new debut, showcases her ear for rave synths, dancehall beats, '80s flavor and absolutely freaky subject matter, making it one of the boldest hip-hop releases of the year. Just watch out for her psychotic alter ego, Roman Zolanski. PLAN B: Raga Bop Trio @ The Loft at UCSD. A jazz trio that includes the former drummer of Journey, Raga Bop Trio play stirring, polyrhythmic jams that cover everything from straight-ahead jazz to Indian raga. I've even heard hints of math-rock during their more angular moments, though I doubt that's intentional. BACKUP PLAN: Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, The Donkeys, The Hot Moon @ Soda Bar.
Saturday, Dec. 4
PLAN A: Wu-Tang Clan @ 4th & B. RZA can't make it, but the presence of Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah and all the rest qualifies this reunion show as something not to be fucked with. PLAN B: Earthless, 400 Blows, Rats Eyes, The Widows @ The Casbah. This bill showcases loud music in multiple flavors—there's the indescribably epic jam-metal of Earthless (read all about it on this page), the ferocious hardcore of L.A.'s 400 Blows and locals Rats Eyes and the rough-and-ready garage-rock of The Widows. PLAN C: Mike Pinto, Stranger, B Foundation, High Tide, Hi Roots @ House of Blues. Check out our feature on Page 23 about Mike Pinto, a hardworking troubadour whose sunny reggae goes perfectly with San Diego's sunny climes. BACKUP PLAN: Charles McPherson Quintet @ Dizzy's.
Sunday, Dec. 5
PLAN A: Passion Pit, Mister Heavenly, We Barbarians, Pepper Rabbit @ SOMA. With the massive popularity of the hit single “Sleepyhead”—an infectious piece of electro-pop driven by big synths, a beautiful patchwork of samples and Michael Angelakos' inhumanly high falsetto— Passion Pit solidified itself alongside MGMT as pioneers of maximalist electro-pop. PLAN B: Dweezil Zappa @ House of Blues. Zappa might not have the creative genius of his dad—his guitar style actually owes more to Van Halen—but he's got the chops to play poppa Zappa's songs, as he will tonight. BACKUP PLAN: The greenhornes, Hacienda, The Sea of Cortez, Lowvolts @ The Casbah.
Monday, Dec. 6
PLAN A: Family Wagon, Stone Foxes, Dead Feather Moon @ The Casbah. Influenced by Led Zeppelin and The Mars Volta, Family Wagon (who'll celebrate the release of their debut album, Teleblaster) play hard-driving rock that pairs a Summer of Love vibe with tons of testosterone. You can practically smell the man-sweat oozing from the cascading riff of “Keeper of the Medicine.” BACKUP PLAN: Batwings, K Holes, Stickers, Syndicate @ Tin Can Ale House.
Tuesday, Dec. 7
PLAN A: Jeans Wilder, Speculator, Teen porn, Raw Moans @ Tin Can Ale House. Jeans Wilder's Simpler Times 7-inch fired up the blogosphere last month with the title cut's lowest-fi surf-rock (think Wavves playing in slow motion and filtered through a distortion pedal). Now, the local dude celebrates the release of a new record, Nice Trash. BACKUP PLAN: MillionYoung, Teen Daze, The Great Mundane @ The Casbah.