Phantogram plays House of Blues on Thursday, Dec. 17
Wednesday, Dec. 16
PLAN A: Marquez!, Bully Blinders, DJ GarGar @ The Casbah. The headliners may be playing only their third show ever (see our story on this page), but this'll be Bully Blinders' first show. A new hip-hop project from MC Talls (The Kneehighs) and beatmaster Chad Tuthill, their debut, City of Dirt, is a banger that covers everything from politics to breakfast cereals and also features cameos from some of Daygo's best MCs. PLAN B: Peter Squires, Marcelo Radulovich @ Ruby Room. In a perfect world, everyone who gushed over Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Go would have seen it for what it is: A self-indulgent hippie crying about some girl who got tired of his self-indulgent hippieness. Luckily, we have Peter Squires, who at least acknowledges his own vanity and adds a much-needed sense of humor to his otherwise forlorn folk. BACKUP PLAN: DJ Sonny @ Tin Can Ale House.
Thursday, Dec. 17
PLAN A: El Ten Eleven @ Bar Pink. If you dig Ratatat or Hella, you owe it to yourself to check out this L.A. instrumental duo. And when I say “instrumental,” I mean a double-necked guitar and a shitload of drums and pedals making so much damn cool electro-rock noise that you don't know whether you wanna dance or bang your head. PLAN B: Zero 7, Phantogram @ House of Blues. Never was a huge fan of electro-popsters Zero 7, but their new album is definitely a darker departure from their previous material. But what puts this show over the top is the strength of the performance I saw from Phantogram when they played The Casbah last October. The co-ed N.Y. duo makes some sweet trip-hop love that recently got them signed to taste-making label Barsuk Records. BACKUP PLAN: The White Buffalo, Blackout Party, Rachael Cantu @ The Casbah.
Friday, Dec. 18
PLAN A: Lights On, Sunday Times, Shapes of Future Frames @ Tin Can Ale House. It's a post-punk party, and there's not a bad band on the bill. Lights On are getting mad large with everyone from Brooklyn Vegan to MTZ showing them love. Seriously, check them out in a small venue while you still can. PLAN B: Bobby Fantasy, Eliza Rickman, Asa Ransom @ Ruby Room. Seems like a strange pairing for new-wave glam locals Bobby Fantasy to be playing with balladeer Eliza Rickman and her toy piano (see our story on Page 25), but I can certainly think of stranger combos (I just saw a picture of Blake Lively spooning Alan Arkin, ewww). BACKUP PLAN: Queenly, Cats from Japan, D Pain @ The Casbah.
Saturday, Dec. 19
PLAN A: Apes of Wrath, Asa Ransom, Sunday Times, Roxy Jones @ Soda Bar. Carefully treading the line between danceable post-punk, minimalist new-wave and the African rhythms all those white-boy bands are stealing these days, Asa Ransom have released two under-the-radar EPs that garnered some spins on BBC radio and write-ups in NME. The Brits love it when they scoop the American music press, and, in this case, they got it right before we did. PLAN B: El Vez, Los Straitjackets, Lovely Elvettes, DJ Claire @ The Casbah. Combine Weird Al, Gene Vincent and the King, then shake it up with tequila, Pancho Villa and a Mexican Santa and you have this annual Casbah tradition. It's like fruitcake, but nuttier. BACKUP PLAN: Aquabats, Suburban Legend, Supernova @ House of Blues.
Sunday, Dec. 20
PLAN A: The Boys, Crazy Squeeze @ Radio Room. Called “The Beatles of punk,” The Boys were part of the U.K.'s first wave of '70s punk bands. They had a record deal before The Sex Pistols, and Joe Strummer was reportedly influenced by their first show. The fact that they're playing Radio Room more than 30 years after they formed is as punk as it gets. PLAN B: Red Pony Clock, Lazer Zeppelin, The Endless Bummer, Miss Erika Davies @ Tin Can Ale House. Mariachi-influenced pop, a local jazz chanteuse, hilarious anti-folk and cracked-out lo-fi country (featuring members of kick-ass Olympia band LAKE) all in one night! So much for that whole day-of-rest thing.
Monday, Dec. 21
PLAN A: Downs Family, C.L.A., Behind the Wagon @ The Casbah. And here you thought you'd never get to see O.G. San Diego alterna-rockers C.L.A. after they played that reunion gig back in January. Well, the band—who once rocked the rooftop of The Casbah's predecessor, The Pink Panther, more than 20 years ago—is back for more, but, really, we're not promising that this won't be the last show ever. BACKUP PLAN: Nothingful @ Soda Bar.
Tuesday, Dec. 22
PLAN A: The Lifters @ Tin Can Ale House. Is it time for another ska revival? Nah, that's OK. The last one forced me to listen to Sublime and Mighty Mighty Bosstones. The Lifters, however, do kinda make me want to dust off my skanking shoes. BACKUP PLAN: Republic of Letters, Hotel St. George, The Canton Mudders @ The Casbah.