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, April 15
PLAN A: Vivian Girls, Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, Gary Wilson @ The Casbah. It remains to be seen if Brooklyn's Vivian Girls can follow up their fetching debut with a similarly enjoyable LP. But for now, just soak in the harmonies before everyone gets too jaded. PLAN B: Animental, Bow + Arrow, Fortress of Amplitude, Kill Kill Kill @ Soda Bar. One thing's for sure about Soda Bar: Whoever books shows there is into some pretty weird shit, and I like it. BACKUP PLAN: Crescendo, Lanterns, Jamuel Saxon @ Ruby Room.
Thursday, April 16
PLAN A: Ramblin' Jack Elliott @ Acoustic Music San Diego. Seventy-seven-year-old folk singer Ramblin' Jack is a musician's musician whose songs influenced an entire generation of legendary songwriters (Dylan, Odetta, Jerry Garcia, etc.), and he's on the road supporting his superb latest album, A Stranger Here. PLAN B: Black Lips, Flowers Forever, Nautical Disaster, Atoms @ The Casbah. Whether you like Black Lips' drug-and-booze-fueled garage rock is practically irrelevant. When these guys play live, it's guaranteed to be a party. You may be subjected to nudity, make-out sessions between band members and even some actual songs! BACKUP PLAN: Sole, Awol One, Illuminauts, Artoo @ Kava Lounge.
Friday, April 17
PLAN A: Wavves, Christmas Island, The Dabbers, Bipolar Bear @ The Casbah. San Diego phenomenon Nathan Williams (Wavves) is back in town after a two-and-a-half month international tour—and playing his first-ever show at the city's best indie-rock venue. Come out and give the guy a proper homecoming. PLAN B: Calexico, Bartenders Bible @ Belly Up Tavern. Calexico has forged an impeccable discography in their 13-year run, during which they've become one of the most authentic, diverse roots acts around. That twang could only have come from Tucson. BACKUP PLAN: The Vibrators, Northern Towns @ Radio Room.
Saturday, April 18
PLAN A: Menomena, Calico Horse, Writer @ The Casbah. Normally, I'd describe any band that creates its own computer program to record music as “genius.” Menomena are still too scattershot to qualify, but don't be surprised if they drop a classic with their next album. PLAN B: John Prine @ Spreckels Theatre. Lots of folk musicians probably wish they'd had Prine's career. Flying just under the mainstream radar for nearly 40 years, he's made his name through an independent spirit (he owns Oh Boy Records), his nonchalant charm and a surplus of songwriting smarts. PLAN C: Andre Nickatina, Xzibit, Substance Abuse @ 'Canes. With a cadence that recalls Too Short and a ton of lyrics about cocaine use, “Dre Dog” is California underground's most inexplicable phenomenon—the rapper that all white frat boys aspire to hang with. And what is Xzibit doing here? Shouldn't he be pimping rides somewhere?
Sunday, April 19
PLAN A: The Intelligence, Christmas Island, Pillow Queens @ Soda Bar. The Intelligence must like San Diego a lot; this is the decentralized art-punk foursome's third show here in the past six months or so. It's DIY as it should be done—strange, genuinely catchy tunes that sound like they were recorded in a bomb shelter. Or somebody's bathroom. BACKUP PLAN: SkateWitches, Die Sabotage @ Che Café.
Monday, April 20
PLAN A: Brimstone Howl @ Ken Club. Perfect for the non-reggae fan's 4/20 experience, this four-piece brings grimy jangle-punk straight from Omaha, where they just finished kicking Conor Oberst's whiny little ass. PLAN B: Lykke Li, Afternoons @ Belly Up Tavern. The Swedes have done it again. What is it about Scandinavia that produces such pure female-fronted pop music? First it was ABBA, then Ace of Base (don't deny it) and The Cardigans—and now Lykke Li. It's kitschy, but no less enjoyable. And it doesn't hurt that she's gorgeous.
Tuesday, April 21
PLAN A: Dan Deacon, Wavves, Double Dagger, Future Islands, Teeth Mountain, Fortress of Amplitude @ Che Café. Dan Deacon's live reputation has become the stuff of legend, but I'm more excited about Double Dagger's muscular, sinewy punk blasts that recall forgotten D.C. antagonists Frodus. BACKUP PLAN: Bang Camaro, Leslie, Die Sabotage @ The Casbah.