Thursday, June 18
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Case in point: the resurgence of San Diego heroes No Knife, whose return to the stage after six years apart resulted in rapturous acclaim by the local indie-rock faithful. Unfortunately, the band is retreating just as suddenly as it reemerged, and this show is purported to be No Knife's last. Ever. So if you want the chance to witness the majesty of “Academy Flight Song” and the brilliant, stuttering “Angel Bomb” firsthand, get your ass over to Belly Up Tavern. Openers The Focus Group and The John Foothills Band satiate listeners beforehand ($15).
Friday, June 19
Local four-piece Pocket don't seem to get a whole lot of credit for their deft fusion of funk, jazz and hip-hop grooves. Yeah, they have a weekly residence at Croce's Downtown, but, honestly, I doubt that's going to do much to lower the aggregate age of their fan base. However, they're known to hit up Whistle Stop Bar—as they are this Friday—every now and then to class the place up a bit, giving hipsters a variety they don't often experience in their steady diet of millionth-wave garage rock and tallboys of Pabst Blue Ribbon. This stuff isn't necessarily suited as a main attraction, but it should provide quite the excellent soundtrack to a night of downing cocktails.
Saturday, June 20
It's ironic that a label best known for its raw, blues-oriented catalog would start releasing albums by Southwestern indie acts, but Fat Possum has defied its precedent by doing so with both Wavves and Crocodiles earlier this year. Next on the label's list for 2009 is an album by Tucson's Digital Leather, a synth-heavy, one-man bedroom-recording operation that's bounced around from dive to dive for the better part of a decade, landing at Ken Club on Saturday night. Devo is a solid reference point for the DL experience, as are some of the more obscure electronically oriented bands that sprang up from the West Coast in the punk aftermath (Screamers, The Units, Nervous Gender). Throw in a ridiculous sex-party vibe, some post-punk brooding, a handful of hooks and fill out the sound with a full band, and you've got a recipe for disaster. In a good way, though. Earthmen & Strangers and BRAAIINS! open.
Music-wise, Detroit is synonymous with two things: Motown and rock 'n' roll. So it's strange to hear the disembodied echoes permeating Motor City-based Prussia's dreamy, organic explorations of developmentally disabled doo-wop and pop. This is interesting stuff, far less forced than, and not as immediately agreeable as, the hordes of indie-poppers cutesy-ing their way to recognition. Don't know if I can say the same for Portland's Nurses, but since they were just signed by the respectable Dead Oceans imprint, that merits a proper listen, at least. Local youngsters Da Bears and the whimsical Cuckoo Chaos also perform at UCSD's Che Café.
Sunday, June 21
With a string of uncompromising records and a stage presence rivaling any performer of her generation, PJ Harvey is a perfect example of how success and artistic credibility aren't always mutually exclusive. There are few musicians in the world who work at such a high level of creative consistency while also gaining mass acceptance. She's in the company of Radiohead (and has recorded several duets with Thom Yorke), Nick Cave (an ex-boyfriend) and Tom Waits as artists who can seemingly do no wrong. Harvey's latest—A Woman a Man Walked By, her second album of duets with John Parish—is no misstep, either, and judging from a recent performance on The Tonight Show, Harvey will own the hearts and minds of the crowd at Humphrey's Concerts by the Bay ($40).And even though it's sold out, it would be an oversight not to mention the original lineup of Dinosaur Jr., whose 3 p.m. show at The Casbah features an opening performance by the mighty Earthless. If you stand outside long enough, maybe someone will take pity and let you inside.
Monday, June 22
Spirit Photography are one of the more exciting bands to come out of the San Diego underground in the past couple years, and during the six-month gap I went between seeing them play, they evolved from a slightly shaky, potentially excellent duo to a must-see act. The addition of bass has given the clanging dual guitars a much-needed low end, effectively tightening the gears while still leaving room for experimentation. While Joy Division and Bauhaus comparisons are inevitable, I'd argue that they're largely squashed in a live setting, the effect more akin to hearing those residual post-punk echoes filtered through a thousand effects pedals. Support comes from female-fronted Portland synth-mongers Fist Fite and You and Me Too. At Soda Bar.