Wednesday, Dec. 10
PLAN A: Helmet, Fu Manchu @ House of Blues. Any man sporting a helmet and a Fu Manchu mustache is either a speed-addled biker or a linebacker from the Pittsburgh Steelers' Iron Curtain days. In either case, it's probably someone you don't want to mess with, as were Helmet and Fu Manchu in their heydays. PLAN B: Fever Sleeves, Marasol, Modern Rifles @ The Casbah. Who remembers Midwest indie rock in the '90s? Fever Sleeves and Modern Rifles do, favorably recalling Chicago-area icons Don Caballero and Jawbox, respectively.
Thursday, Dec. 11
PLAN A: Los Lobos, The Blasters @ House of Blues. Los Lobos' lineup has essentially remained unchanged since their formation in 1973. Thirty-five years on, they're still the epitome of a true California roots group. PLAN B: Ilya, Irradio @ Bar Pink. Ilya creates a sweeping vortex of seduction unlike any band in town, and Irradio's delay-ridden anthems fill that foreboding void with the most versatile local indie rock since No Knife's departure. PLAN C: The Nightwatchman, Boots Riley @ Belly Up Tavern. The Nightwatchman is Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello playing acoustic protest songs. It'll be interesting to see how he fares without an arsenal of guitar effects. BACKUP PLAN: Calico Horse, Street of Little Girls, Vaginals, Bitter Sober @ Epicentre.
Friday, Dec. 12
PLAN A: Murs @ 'Canes. Most MCs think “keeping it real” means acting hard and flashing diamond-encrusted jewelry. For Murs, it means admitting that he's a comic-book reading, heartbroken nerd and still fearlessly calling out all the fakers. PLAN B: The Starlite Desperation, Emperors of Japan @ Bar Pink. Is it just me, or has The Starlite Desperation been kicking around forever? They always seem to be on hiatus, but it's good to have them back, even if it's only temporary. BACKUP PLAN: Anthony Hamilton @ House of Blues.
Saturday, Dec. 13
PLAN A: The Heartaches, The Widows @ Ken Club. Keenly aware that they're not reinventing the wheel when it comes to poppy garage punk, this quote from The Widows' MySpace page tidily sums it up: “Rock 'n' roll is too important to be left to proffesionals [sic].” PLAN B: Billy Midnight, Bartenders Bible @ Ruby Room. Country music makes far more sense in San Diego than it has any right to. Sure, we have the ocean, but we also have East County, which provides the dustbowl fodder for both groups of lonesome drifters. BACKUP PLAN: The Silent Comedy, Transfer, Music for Animals, BoomSnake @ The Casbah.
Sunday, Dec. 14
PLAN A: Deep Rooted, The Kneehighs, Young Mass, MC Flow, Miki Vale, Addiquit, Kayo @ The Casbah. Seth Combs documents the possible six-part solution to San Diego's hip-hop woes on this page. PLAN B: Fear Before, HeavyHeavyLowLow @ 3242 Lincoln Ave., North Park. Who has bigger balls: The two progressive hardcore bands playing such a potentially chaotic show, or the renters inviting them to perform at this house party? There's no way there'll be a refund on that security deposit. PLAN C: Daniel Jackson Benefit Concert @ Dizzy's. A who's-who of local jazz musicians including Gilbert Castellanos, Chuck McPherson and Mikan Zlatkovich raises money for Jackson, a saxophonist who's experiencing serious health issues.
Monday, Dec. 15
PLAN A: Metallica, Lamb of God, The Sword @ Cox Arena. Metallica could literally press record, fart and burp into their mics, pass it off as an album and still sell out nearly every show they play. They inspire an undying devotion in their fans, which is an incredible feat for any band. PLAN B: Franz Ferdinand, The Soft Pack @ 'Canes. The Muslims perform in San Diego for the first time since changing their name to The Soft Pack. With any luck, they'll send the Scottish fashionistas back overseas with their ties between their legs. PLAN C: Ty Segall, The Anasazis, The Fresh and Onlys @ Soda Bar. Search for Segall on YouTube and you'll see why his unpolished one-man garage performances have the kids in a frenzy. BACKUP PLAN: The Virgins, Hockey @ The Casbah.
Tuesday, Dec. 16
PLAN A: The Focus Group @ Beauty Bar. The best local band that nobody seems to talk about, The Focus Group's new album Great Moments in Evolution drops early next year, and from the clips available, it's reminiscent of Unwound's Leaves Turn Inside You. That's a compliment of the highest order. PLAN B: Bloc Party @ House of Blues. If members of the former Soviet bloc got along well enough to party together, it would presumably sound nothing like this band. Unless you fed Putin enough vodka to let down his guard and do karaoke covers of The Cure and New Order.