Wednesday, Oct. 17
PLAN A: Allen Stone, Yuna, Tingsek @ Belly Up Tavern. With his goofy glasses, long hair and pasty-white skin, 25-year-old songwriter Allen Stone looks like the dorkiest guy you've ever met. But, holy shit, the man can sing! Expect some vintage soul and R&B in the vein of Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. PLAN B: Stars, Diamond Rings, California Wives @ House of Blues. They might not be as explosive as their buddies in Broken Social Scene, but no matter. On their new album, The North, Canada's Stars burst with sparkly new-wave textures and soft, huggable indie-pop melodies. BACK- UP PLAN: The Whigs, The Record Company, Family Wagon @ The Griffin.
Thursday, Oct. 18
PLAN A: Cold Cave, DVA Damas, DJ Mario Orduno @ The Casbah. With all-black outfits, ridiculous dance moves and brutally intense electro-pop songs, Cold Cave is the kind of band that you don't know whether to love or hate. But this should be interesting either way: Frontman Wes Eisold recently assembled a new lineup featuring current and former members of AFI, The Blood Brothers and LCD Soundsystem. PLAN B: Exitmusic, Idyll Wild, Odd Shapes @ Soda Bar. As taste-makers often point out, Exitmusic's Aleksa Palladino also happens to be a working actor who once had a role alongside Scarlett Johansson. But who cares? The New York City duo makes big, goth-tinged pop that's by turns brittle and explosive. BACKUP PLAN: Terraplane Sun, Del Sol Project, Loose Snakes @ Belly Up Tavern.
Friday, Oct. 19
PLAN A: Dan Deacon, Height with Friends, Chester Endersby Gwazda, Alan Resnick @ The Irenic. Party-starting electronic artist Dan Deacon has long traversed the sweaty nightclub and the buttoned-up concert hall. On his sprawling, complex, intensely enjoyable new album, America, he owes as much to Bruce Springsteen as Aaron Copland. PLAN B: Yasiin Bey a.k.a. Mos Def, DJ Charlie Rock, Lyrical Skoolyard All Stars, Mazzi, Legacy Pack @ 4th & B. Underground rap star Mos Def decided to switch things up last year, trading his old alias for the name Yasiin Bey. But he proves he's still his same sharp, stylish self on his track "Niggas in Poorest," a sociopolitical spinoff of Jay-Z and Kanye West's hit "Niggas in Paris." BACKUP PLAN: Bowerbirds,
Strand of Oaks @ The Casbah.
Saturday, Oct. 20
PLAN A: Major Lazer @ House of Blues. Diplo's Major Lazer project is usually known for its booty-shaking beats, wacked-out synths and G.I. Joe-style cartoon mascot, but he tones things down on his recent single, "Get Free," teaming with Dirty Projectors singer Amber Coffman to conjure something slow, mellow and reflective. PLAN B: Rocktoberfest w/ Mariachi El Bronx, The Silent Comedy, Transfer, Hyena, The Blackout Party, Grand Tarantula, Family Wagon, New Mexico, Euphoria Brass Band @ Birch North Park Theatre. What happens when the punk rockers of The Bronx put on charro suits and pick up traditional mariachi instruments? You get Mariachi El Bronx, the most badass punkrock mariachi band you've ever heard. BACKUP PLAN: Woods, White Fence, Tropical Popsicle @ Soda Bar.
Sunday, Oct. 21
PLAN A: Crystal Castles, HEALTH, Kontravoid @ SOMA. Crystal Castles and HEALTH made a great pair when I saw them at Fluxx last year. While HEALTH alienated all the Gaslamp shiny-shirts with a set of post-apocalyptic noise jams, Crystal Castles delivered one merciless, seizure-inducing synth-pop anthem after another. BACKUP PLAN: Heavy Hawaii, Molly Nilsson, DJ Mario Orduno @ Soda Bar.
Monday, Oct. 22
PLAN A: Perfume Genius @ The Irenic. Taking cues from the likes of Xiu Xiu and Antony and the Johnsons, Perfume Genius songwriter Mike Hadreas makes pretty acoustic folk with dark hues and a raw, heart-shattering core. PLAN B: Beth Orton, Sam Amidon @ House of Blues. English singersongwriter Beth Orton isn't above a good electronic beat—in the '90s, she worked with The Chemical Brothers—but she goes full folk on her lush, subdued new album, Sugaring Season. BACKUP PLAN: Jason Lytle, Sea of Bees @ The Casbah.
Tuesday, Oct. 23
PLAN A: Staff Benda Bilili @ Mandeville Auditorium (UCSD). Hailing from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Staff Benda Bilili is led by four paraplegic singerguitarists and features a young guy who tears it up on a one-stringed, tin-can lute. They've got tight harmonies, rumba rhythms and incredible fortitude. BACKUP PLAN: Peaches DJ Extravaganza, Teenage Burritos @ Belly Up Tavern.