These are bands we especially dig, not full listings. For those, please see “Concerts and Clubs”. For more top shows featuring local acts, please see “Nightgeist”.
Wednesday, March 18
PLAN A: Freeland, Evil Nine @ The Casbah. Evil Nine are two British electro-fiends dressed up as zombies, and gimmicks aside, the whole thing kinda works. It's like Shaun of the Dead come to life, but replace the dead people with dancing hipsters. PLAN B: Northern Towns, Rat City Riot, Hudson Falcons, F Bombers @ Ruby Room. Recipients of an “Extraspecialgood” review in our recent Local Music Issue, Northern Towns are like a Cockney version of L.A.'s The Bronx. And, yes, their lead singer is actually British. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.
Thursday, March 19
PLAN A: Thin Man, The Old In Out, The Death Eaters @ The Casbah. Have you ever heard anybody say this “Thursday is the new Friday” bullshit? How about Thursday just stays the way it is, and you come up with a better excuse for going into work on Friday with a melted face and a hangover? PLAN B: The Focus Group, Black Hondo, Ninja Love @ Belly Up Tavern. The Focus Group's new self-titled album contains some of the best local music to be released this year, and it'll likely be played in full at this CD-release party. Somehow, they already have an Ireland tour booked in June. How did they pull that off? BACKUP PLAN: Chaz, Mermaid, Save Amos, Sam McPheeters @ King Music.
Friday, March 20
PLAN A: Grand Ole Party, Dirty Legs, Ale Mania @ Soda Bar. Everybody's favorite female-led indie-blues combo premiers songs from its second album, which is currently being recorded. But here's a secret: You should get there in time to bathe in Ale Mania's watery, synth-driven drug anthems. PLAN B: Archons, OAKS, Ride the Sun @ Ruby Room. There's a good chance that Archons are currently San Diego's reigning underground metal band, inhabiting a sludgy no-man's land between doom, classic rock and prime '80s thrash. To quote the ancient metal proverb, it's “all killer, no filler.” BACKUP PLAN: OK Go, Jaguar Love, IO Echo @ House of Blues.
Saturday, March 21
PLAN A: The Long and Short of It, Kill Me Tomorrow, Fing @ The Casbah. From the previews available, The Long and Short of It's new album, CAW!: An Unkindness of Ravens, is just the kind of rock album San Diego needs right now—an aggressive, confrontational take on today's false idols. Make sure to snag a copy at this CD-release party. PLAN B: Miss Erika Davies, Greg Gibson @ Soda Bar. Blessed with a stunning voice, a Lauren Hutton-esque gap in her teeth and some impressive ukulele talent, it's hard to believe that Davies' melancholy lounge-jazz hasn't been picked up by a major label. BACKUP PLAN: Dave Mason @ Anthology.
Sunday, March 22
PLAN A: Black Mountain, The Sadies @ The Casbah. As much as they reach back to the past for inspiration, I have no qualms in saying Black Mountain is one of the most enjoyable bands currently making rock music. Considering they're only on album No. 2 and have already opened for Coldplay on a U.S. tour, I'd say they have an bright future. PLAN B: FNU Ronnies, Platanos, Francis Bacon, Reverse Cowboys @ Soda Bar. Just when you think punk is a completely useless description, a band like FNU Ronnies comes along to frighten and antagonize every single person who attends its gigs, causing even the toughest guys to urinate in their Dickies.
Monday, March 23
PLAN A: Tricky @ Belly Up Tavern. Known for being an erratic performer, Adrian Thaws (aka Tricky) is going to have trouble re-creating the sound of his “comeback” album, Knowle West Boy, if he doesn't keep an eight-piece band in tow. Still, it'll be interesting to see where the night takes him. PLAN B: H.R. @ 'Canes. Another unpredictable performer, Bad Brains lead singer and hardcore icon H.R. probably won't be doing onstage back flips like he did in the old days, but his blend of reggae and hard rock should please the beach crowd confused by the absence of Sublime cover bands. BACKUP PLAN: Joanie Mendenhall, Dirtybird, Nowhere Men @ The Casbah.
Tuesday, March 24
PLAN A: These Arms are Snakes, Tera Melos, PRE, The Mae Shi @ The Casbah. This heavy-prog feast features The Mae Shi, the hardest-working band at SXSW. If you doubt that, check out their schedule—they have an insane 16 shows within a span of five days. PLAN B: No Kids, Parenthetical Girls @ Bar Pink. If you think Xiu Xiu are too pretentious, look to these two pop-inflected groups of intellectuals for stimulation. Just beware that beneath the relatively catchy personas, there are deposits of despair everywhere. BACKUP PLAN: Rhett Miller, Sara Petite @ Belly Up Tavern.