Wednesday, Jan. 26
PLAN A: Kastle, Mr. Biggs, Head$hake, Austin Speed @ El Dorado. Judging by most of the DJs and producers who come through San Diego, you'd swear that dubstep is the cock rock of electronic music. But with his diva samples and lush synths, Kastle offers a fresh, crisp, house-inflected take on the bass-heavy genre. PLAN B: Death on Mars, Oh Air Night, Mangled Bohemians @ Soda Bar. Some Death on Mars tracks traffic in dreamy folk; others delve into claustrophobic electronics. Either way, this local band plays some seriously haunting, strange and beautiful stuff. BACKUP PLAN: Wallpaper, The Dance Party, K. Flay @ The Casbah.
Thursday, Jan. 27
PLAN A: Jel, Odd Nosdam, Grammatical B & Microphone Mike @ Bar Pink. Where most electronic-music artists just push the play button, Anticon beatsmith Jel literally plays drum pads and samplers, tapping out jaw-dropping beats with his fingers. Don't miss label-mate Odd Nosdam, whose blunted grooves would go well with some Skywalker OG. PLAN B: Fu Manchu, Dusted Angel @ The Casbah. Stoner-rock pioneers Fu Manchu celebrate 20 years of throwing down gargantuan riffs with two solid sets. They'll play their 1996 classic In Search Of… all the way through, and then they'll rock out to early favorites. BACKUP PLAN: Gatekeeper, Terminal Twilight, DJ Robert Disaro @ Tin Can Ale House.
Friday, Jan. 28
PLAN A: Rafter, Jamuel Saxon @ Tin Can Ale House. This show has dance party written all over it—Rafter and Jamuel Saxon both put out excellent, unique dance records last year—but let's hope Rafter performs some of the darker, black-metal inspired songs from a new album that I write about in the feature on this page. PLAN B: Daniel Jackson, Danny Barber & Leland Collins, Lila Brown, Gene Perry, Mikan Zlatkovich, Henry Franklin, Chuck McPherson @ Croce's. This Downtown restaurant has shows going on all week paying tribute to Daniel Jackson, a local jazz legend. Tonight, Jackson teams up with other jazz mainstays to play works by Art Blakey, Max Roach and Lenny McBrowne. PLAN C: Cuckoo Chaos, Twin Brother @ Whistle Stop. With their sophisticated arrangements, breathtaking vocal harmonies and lingering melodies, Las Vegas' Twin Brother strike an ideal balance between pop and art. BACKUP PLAN: The Dragons, Deadbolt, The Front, DJ Wendy O'Rourke, Dark Globe @ The Casbah.
Saturday, Jan. 29
PLAN A: Grand Tarantula, Fatigo, Red Pony Clock @ Soda Bar. You might get the impression from their savage live show that the guys in Grand Tarantula want to rip your face off, but don't worry: As you'll read in our feature on this page, they're just having fun. Don't miss Fatigo's oddball brand of pop-meets-rock-meets-flamenco-meets-whatever. PLAN B: Crocodiles, Tamaryn, Colleen Green, Raw Moans, DJ Mario Orduno @ The Casbah. Crocodiles and Tamaryn are like two peas in a scuffed-up, dirty old pod: Crocodiles pound out anthemic rock riffs, and Tamaryn strum dreamy shoegaze melodies, but both bands can't get enough of their distortion, delay and reverb pedals. BACK- UP PLAN: The Moonlight Trio, The Palominos, The Sugar Daddies @ Shakedown Bar.
Sunday, Jan. 30
PLAN A: Archons, Spider Fever, Widows @ The Casbah. Locals Archons have everything a kick-ass metal band needs: Ominous buildups, crushing riffs and growling vocals. Hell, they're even signed to a label called Bloated Goat Records. You can't get any more metal than that. PLAN B: Tristen, Owl Eyes, The Displaced @ Soda Bar. Nashville's Tristen don't blow my mind, but their bright vocal harmonies, catchy hooks and homespun folk-rock arrangements sure make me feel warm and fuzzy. BACKUP PLAN: DBR and DJ Scientific @ The Loft at UCSD.
Monday, Jan. 31
PLAN A: Das Racist @ Porter's Pub (UCSD). Das Racist came across like a forgettable novelty act with “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell,” the obnoxious-but-clever track that put them on the map in 2009, but the Brooklyn hip-hoppers blew critics away last year with Sit Down, Man and Shut Up, Dude, two hilariously subversive mixtapes. PLAN B: Motörhead, Clutch @ House of Blues. It's been 31 years since we first heard Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister bark out the unforgettable refrain to “Ace of Spades,” but the dude is still one badass mofo. PLAN C: Darwin Deez @ The Loft at UCSD. Darwin Deez has been working on some OutKast-inspired hip-hop lately, but the highlight at this show will be indierock gems like “Radar Detector” from the band's 2010 debut. BACKUP PLAN: Cattle Decapitation, Rats Eyes, The Capulets, Secret Fun Club, DJ Bonk Joyner @ The Casbah.
Tuesday, Feb. 1PLAN A: Wild Nothing, Abe Vigoda, Heavy Hawaii, DJ Mario Orduno @ The Casbah. You can't go wrong with this lineup. Wild Nothing's new EP, Golden Haze, glimmers with sweet melodies, glossy guitars and propulsive grooves. And Abe Vigoda's Crush, a Goth-rock tour de force that came out last year, erupts with irresistible synth hooks and clamorous guitars. PLAN B: Vijay Iyer @ The Loft at UCSD. Composer-pianist Vijay Iyer's compositions are wild yet hypnotic, off-kilter but beautiful. BACKUP PLAN: Cantua, Todo Mundo, Full Blown Stone @ Soda Bar.