Wednesday, Dec. 10
PLAN A: Creepers, Shmu, Witness 9 @ The Hideout. Creepers feature members of San Francisco black-metal band Deafheaven, but there's nothing metal about them at all. In fact, their style is fuzzy and swirling psychedelic rock, as is evident in their heavy use of effects and the Bandcamp tag "drugs." It's perfectly good sober, too, just so you know. PLAN B: Black Cobra, Wolvhammer @ Brick by Brick. It's not easy to make brutally massive sludge metal with just two people, but Black Cobra somehow manage to pull it off. It helps that they play the hell out of their instruments, but with guitar that sounds this gnarly, there's no need for anything else. BACKUP PLAN: Rubberneck Lions, Vinyl Mill, Boychick @ Soda Bar.
Thursday, Dec. 11
PLAN A: Too Short, Blowfly, Rap Sabbath, DJ Unite, Mr. Henshaw @ Til-Two Club. It's not often you get to see a hip-hop legend play a club as intimate as Til-Two, but Bay Area icon Too Short is headlining this fundraiser for dirty-soul funk freak Blowfly, who's raising money to save his house. Get freaky and sweaty for a good cause!
Friday, Dec. 12
PLAN A: The Icarus Line, Zig Zags, Zodiac Death Valley @ Soda Bar. Los Angeles' The Icarus Line have been playing meaty, raucous noise rock since the late '90s, and last year's Slave Vows proved they haven't lost their edge. They'll rattle your bones in the best way. PLAN B: Shake Before Us, The Lumps, Kids in Heat @ Tower Bar. A good garage-rock band and a lousy garage-rock band have more in common than you might think, but Shake Before Us boast more soul and swagger than the average bear. Fiery organ licks, infectious melodies and a rich, danceable sound are just a few things to expect when these badasses are onstage.
Saturday, Dec. 13
PLAN A: My Brightest Diamond, Island Boy, DJ Heather Hardcore @ The Casbah. Shara Worden has one of the best voices in indie rock—or pop, or any other genre she touches. As My Brightest Diamond, she's covered a lot of ground, from her haunting Kate Bush-style early material to her more electronics-driven new songs. No matter what's on the set list, I guarantee you'll be enchanted by her superhuman pipes. PLAN B: Cosmonauts, Burnt Ones, Amerikan Bear @ The Hideout. It never ceases to amaze me how deep the Burger Records bench is. Sure, most of it comprises stoned California garage rock. And yet, most of it is pretty damn good. Cosmonauts, for instance, make some splendid, slightly trippy punk that should make for a fun live show.
Sunday, Dec. 14
PLAN A: College, Nicky Venus @ The Casbah. College is one of those band names that you can't really Google all that successfully, so let me help you out: They're a French synth-pop group with elements of coldwave and giallo film soundtracks. If you like surreal, dreamy pop that's just slightly unsettling, then this is the show for you.
Monday, Dec. 15
PLAN A: Scuffs, Causers, Ash Williams @ Soda Bar. There's a lot of bands in California that you can call "garage" or "punk," and a lot of them are totally boring and interchangeable. But Scuffs stand out, partially because of their tendency to incorporate elements of shoegaze, and songs that are better than your average four-chord rave-up. PLAN B: Weight of the Sun, Mursic, Future Age @ The Casbah. Weight of the Sun sound pretty much exactly like Jupiter -era Cave In. And when I say that, I mean it as an absolute compliment. Not many bands combine pop hooks with metal's heaviness, so it's nice to see that there's one that does right in our own backyard.
Tuesday, Dec. 16
PLAN A: Mystic Braves, Muscle Beech, Swift Beats @ The Casbah. A band called Mystic Braves could pretty much only be a psychedelic rock band, and this Los Angeles outfit's sound goes way back to psychedelia's early days in the mid 1960s. There's lots of surfy Rickenbacker riffs, Farfisa organ buzz and more reverb than most bands know what to do with. Groovy. PLAN B: R.A. Rosenborg, Big Bloom, Astral Touch @ Soda Bar. You'll usually find R.A. Rosenborg playing guitar in Ed Ghost Tucker, one of the better new-ish bands in San Diego. But he has some songs of his own, and you'll get to hear what he's got cooking outside of his other band. I hear that last time he played, there were flutes and saxophones, so that sounds like a plus to me.