Wednesday, Oct. 21
When Thee Oh Sees played The Casbah several months ago, there was a small mishap involving some marijuana ingestion. To clarify: The band had eaten pot cookies prior to the show, which caused singer / keyboardist Brigid Dawson to become temporarily discombobulated, forcing her to sit out for several songs. Other than that, it was a raucous set, highlighted by frontman John Dwyer's piercing, crazed stare as he repeatedly shoved a microphone in his mouth. But the opening bands might even be more interesting. San Francisco's The Fresh & Onlys released one of the sleeper albums of the year with Grey-Eyed Girls, and Dan Melchior is one of the world's finest living garage-rock songwriters, a cult descendent of Mark E. Smith and Billy Childish who crammed more wit and raw emotion into last year's Christmas for the Crows than a thousand Black Lips rip-offs could ever imagine. At Bar Pink ($5).
Thursday, Oct. 22
Bay Area indie label Anticon set the benchmark for brainy white rappers throughout the decade with several albums by poetic MCs whose flows ranged from surreal and insightful to incredibly annoying. Somewhere in the middle sat Why? (aka Yoni Wolf), but his evolution from solo project to incorporating a full-fledged indie rock band during the last five years has shown much promise. Given the unadventurous nature of so many similar acts, the band's willingness to experiment with stream-of-consciousness vocals, bizarre first-hand narratives and electronic textures makes them stand out from the pack, even if Wolf's voice often comes across as too earnest for its own good. Things get off to a late start (10:30 p.m.) at The Loft @ UCSD ($12).
Friday, Oct. 23
At some point, most teenagers dream about playing in a band. Whether it materializes depends on their access to instruments, how supportive their families are and, most crucially, if the music's actually any good. None of these factors seem to have negatively affected L.A.'s Pearl Harbor, whose guitarist, Sky, is only 14 years old. Can't tell if she's related to the singer, Piper, but the two towheads have nonetheless collaborated to form watery, stoned vibes that sound like what would happen if Ariel Pink spent more time at the beach. With a limited 12-inch record due out soon on Mexican Summer, these ladies (and bassist Cody) have already impressed tastemakers in various circles, and as for Sky, well, she might already be a better guitarist than you. Sorry, dudes. Meanwhile, dreamy, sloppy post-punk trio Dunes have taken more than a few cues from Echo and Siouxsie, which is always a good thing. At Whistle Stop Bar.
Like the computerized cousin of one-man song-factory Jay Reatard, Shawn Foree has carved out a sizable niche for Digital Leather in the garage-rock underground. Never mind that he doesn't really play garage rock—it's the attitude that counts. His version is filled with warbly electronics informed by Tubeway Army, The Screamers and Devo, among other synthpunks from the early '80s. And former DL cohort Ryan Rousseau knows his way around a catchy song, as well, evident in the muffled pop blurts of his current band Earthmen & Strangers, who've already played San Diego at least three times this year. One thing's for sure: The Ken Club shows a lot of love for obscure punk bands, as Arizona's Becky Lee & Drunkfoot and locals The Kabbs fill out the bill.
Saturday, Oct. 24
College may be the only time in one's life when it's perfectly acceptable to act like a raging lunatic every weekend with virtually no consequences. And there's nothing more tempting than the on-campus concert, where kids don't even have to leave the comfort of their dorm room to get loaded before a show. OK, so UCSD might not have the mindless party culture of other universities, which explains the booking of intelligent electro-pop duo Yacht, which is headed by producer, multimedia artist and committed vegan Jona Bechtolt. With a reputation for engaging the crowd in wild dance parties, Bechtolt and singer Claire Evans have enough bite to impress DFA Records, so it's safe to say impressionable students hardly stand a chance. At The Loft @ UCSD ($8).
Sunday, Oct. 25
Contrary to popular belief, there's nothing all that “lo-fi” about the music of Kurt Vile. It's understandable how the young songwriter has been lumped into this larger movement that's dominated blogs and music websites for the past year, but Vile's raw talent outshines the majority of bedroom dabblers because of his ability to write honest, unaffected anthems like “Freeway” and “Monkey,” which wouldn't sound out of place on classic-rock radio. These songs manage to tap into some of my earliest musical memories, like singing along to my neighbor's copy of Tom Petty's Full Moon Fever in the back of a Volvo station wagon at age 7. But it's more than nostalgia that's sucking me in—Vile's latest, Childish Prodigy, is one of the year's best albums, and word is, his touring band, The Violators (featuring two of Vile's bandmates from The War on Drugs) absolutely smokes. Throbbing bass and drums come courtesy of The Dabbers, and Costa Mesa's The Growlers bring their dubby surf-rock to The Casbah ($8).
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