Wednesday, March 23
PLAN A: RYAT @ Portugalia. An experimental-music duo headed by Christina Ryat, Philadelphia's RYAT employ a battery of pedals, software, electronics and instruments to produce mesmerizing electro-acoustic pop that comes across like a softer, cuddlier version of Xiu Xiu. PLAN B: The Strange Boys, Natural Child, The KABBs @ Bar Pink. You can't get any more garage-rock than this. Austin's The Strange Boys sound like they crawled out of a garbage can, what with their throaty vocals, ramshackle guitars and R&B rhythms. PLAN C: Dom, Heavy Hawaii, Ghost Shores @ Soda Bar. Dom offer up the kind of homemade pop-rock that readers of Pitchfork have grown accustomed to: fuzzy guitars, sparkly synths, irreverent lyrics and even a song about frontman Dom's cat (*cough* Best Coast *cough*). It's trendy, sure, but it's damn catchy. BACKUP PLAN: The Appleseed Cast, Muscle Worship, Long Live Logos.
Thursday, March 24
PLAN A: Say Hi, Yellow Ostrich, Blair @ The Casbah. As the title of their new album suggests—um, uh oh, all in lower-case—Say Hi are almost frustratingly meek, trafficking in indie-pop with subdued guitars, retro synths and lyrics that are often mumbled more than sung. But even when they might barely rise above a murmur, this Seattle outfit's infectious hooks are full of whimsy, color and romance. PLAN B: Sharon Van Etten, Little Scream, Drew Andrews @ Soda Bar. Sharon Van Etten is an up-andcoming singer-songwriter who pens spare, country-tinged folk with vivid, personal lyrics. What sets her apart from the rest is her mature, quavering voice, which evokes both confidence and vulnerability. BACKUP PLAN: The Howl, Chappo, Kelli Schaeffer @ Bar Pink.
Friday, March 25
PLAN A: Poncho Sanchez @ Anthology. A Grammy-winning Latin-jazz heavyweight who's a bandleader, singer and conga player, Poncho Sanchez holds down a solid groove like the best of them, only to bust out with wild, feather-light rhythms that'll leave you agog. (He also performs at Anthology on Thursday, March 24.) PLAN B: Miniature Tigers, Pepper Rabbit, Cuckoo Chaos @ The Casbah. Like a cross between Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd and Merriweather Post Pavilion-era Animal Collective, Brooklyn's Miniature Tigers strike an ideal balance between psychedelic freakouts and well-crafted pop on infectious tracks like “Gold Skull” and “Bullfighter Jacket.” BACKUP PLAN: Build @ Space4Art.
Saturday, March 26
PLAN A: Rainbow Arabia, Spoek Mathambo, Jahdan Blakkamoore @ Soda Bar. L.A. electro-pop duo Rainbow Arabia have been getting plenty of buzz for their debut, Boys and Diamonds; its meaty synths and insistent beats come straight out of 1985. But I'm more excited about Spoek Mathambo, a South African producer whose monster Caribbean grooves, confrontational lyrics and whackedout fashion sense doesn't quite reach Die Antwoord levels of insanity but still kicks M.I.A.'s ass. PLAN B: Hyena, Music for Animals, The Foreign Resort, DJ Qenoe @ The Casbah. Bring your dancing shoes for this one. Hyena deliver iridescent pop in the style of The Faint while indierockers Music for Animals conjure scenes of sweaty sex on mountaintops. BACKUP PLAN: Endoxi, Stripes and Lines, Dead Feather Moon @ Belly Up.
Sunday, March 27
PLAN A: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Oh Land @ 4th & B. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark might be most famous in the United States for contributing “If You Leave” to the Pretty in Pink soundtrack, but hit-making romance isn't their only forte. Throughout the '80s, this pioneering British synth-pop group made some of the most innovative pop out there, taking cues as much from religious music as Kraftwerk. Their popularity fizzled after they proved too weird for commercial audiences, but last year they delivered the well-received History of modern, their first record in 14 years. BACKUP PLAN: Eddie Nichols, Phil Alvin, Hands Down South @ Shakedown Bar (4 p.m.). (Note: This show has been moved to Saturday, April 2, at 9 p.m.)
Monday, March 28
PLAN A: Salem, Ale Mania, Raw Moans, DJ C. Wizard @ Soda Bar. A menacing electro-pop act that proudly displays its dysfunctions (the Yes, I Smoke Crack EP), Salem is one of the most divisive bands in indie music. While some critics dismiss them as a bunch of no-talent provocateurs, others hail their mix of blown-out synth washes, chopped 'n' screwed hip-hop beats and buried-in-muck vocals as downright groundbreaking. Whatever the case, I've heard they're preparing a phantasmagoric live show for tonight that shouldn't be missed. PLAN B: Shark Attack, Slpwlkrs, Porcelain Fangs, DJ Bonk Joyner @ The Casbah. Electro-rockers Shark Attack will play their final show tonight, but fans needn't be bummed: Porcelain Fangs are a brand-new band featuring Shark Attack members / collaborators Patrick Heaney and Marshall Wilcoxson. BACKUP PLAN: Kenny Loggins, Malea McGuinness @ Belly Up.
Tuesday, March 29
PLAN A: The San Diego Music Awards, Ghetto Blaster @ The Casbah. Not the awards show—the band! I haven't heard any mp3s yet, but I'm intrigued by the details: The San Diego Music Awards feature members of Pinback and Creedle, and they count Ennio Morricone, John Carpenter and “Hardcore Easy Listening” as influences. BACKUP PLAN: Audios, Sighphur One, Destructo Bunny, Proper Program, Shark Attack Brendan B @ Soda Bar.