Wednesday, Dec. 17
PLAN A: Darker My Love, Lumerians, Christmas Island @ The Casbah. Pretty much coming out of nowhere, Darker My Love's self-titled debut was one of the biggest surprises of 2006—a kaleidoscopic journey through psychedelic-rock trends from the '60s to the present. It doesn't hurt that they write killer songs, too. PLAN B: These Arms Are Snakes, Narrows, Lewd Acts, Trap Them @ Che Café. Aside from TAAS, this is practically a showcase for Deathwish Inc., the hardcore label started in 2000 by Converge guitarist and graphic artist Jacob Bannon. At the very least, there'll be a lot of shirts and LPs with pictures of skulls on them for sale.
Thursday, Dec. 18
PLAN A: The Secret Samurai @ Beauty Bar. I don't know why San Diego doesn't have a larger surplus of entertaining surf bands. With rock 'n' roll in-joke song titles like “Don't Fear the Reverb” and “The Song Remains Insane,” it's good to know that some musicians still understand the value of kitsch. PLAN B: Ziggy Shuffledust and the Spiders from Mars, Triple Cobra, The Tighten Ups @ The Casbah. Local Bowie and soul cover bands (Ziggy and Tighten Ups) are the tasty slices of bread soaking up the rotten meat slapped between them (Triple Cobra) in this glam sandwich. Just hang in the Atari Lounge for the middle set, and you should come away unscathed. BACKUP PLAN: Young Dubliners @ Belly Up Tavern.
Friday, Dec. 19
PLAN A: The Creepy Creeps, Lady Dottie and the Diamonds, BRAAIINS! @ The Casbah. This holiday party is probably the only one you'll ever attend that's as likely to involve fake blood and skull masks as candy canes and Santa hats. With any luck, there will be appearances from all four. PLAN B: Tiltwheel, Madison Bloodbath, Bible Brothers @ Ken Club. For elder Escondido punks Tiltwheel, performing music is not a careerist enterprise; rather, it seems to be a way for them to drink, play shows, travel, drink, record a few tracks and drink some more. Mission accomplished.
Saturday, Dec. 20
PLAN A: The Donkeys, Bart Davenport @ Ken Club. The Donkeys give a good name to mellow country-rockers. Example A: The warm, slightly buzzed, late-summer-evening glaze smothered all over their latest album, Living on the Other Side. Example B: The decision to play a free show with Philly soul / classic-pop interpreter Bart Davenport. There are more examples, but you should see what I'm talking about first-hand. PLAN B: The Focus Group, Irradio, Dreaming of Tanks @ Soda Bar. Two bands that showed up separately in this column last week (The Focus Group and Irradio) conveniently perform together, so you can catch both of them in one fell swoop. PLAN C: Dirty Sweet, Lemon Sun, Night Horse @ The Casbah. You could call Dirty Sweet and Night Horse butt-rock. I call them a couple of groups strictly interested in kicking out the jams—no more, no less.
Sunday, Dec. 21
PLAN A: The Vandals, The Phenomenauts, Wild Weekend @ House of Blues. The Vandals are still around? Even Josh Freese, who's also drumming for Devo, is in for the long haul. That's right. He still plays with The Vandals, even though he tours with fucking Devo. Sounds like a stand-up dude to me. PLAN B: The Downs Family @ Bar Pink. If you happen to be out drinking on Sunday night, this folk-punk band is pounding through some Pogues-inspired tunes to keep your spirits high (low?), just in case you're not the type with a strong holiday spirit.
Monday, Dec. 22
PLAN A: Tape Deck Mountain, Madison County, Black Mamba @ The Casbah. Slacker music is back in vogue, and two-piece Tape Deck Mountain sound like they can barely be bothered to even write songs, until they get irritated enough at their lack of motivation to take out all that pent-up frustration on their instruments. This reinforces an ancient indie-rock adage: It isn't all fun and games when you're young and poor. BACKUP PLAN: Have a few drinks and watch Bad Santa. It's funnier than you remember. But if you can find something better to do on the Monday before Christmas, let me know, because most clubs aren't booking shows.
Tuesday, Dec. 23
PLAN A: John Meeks, The Old Palominos @ Beauty Bar. While I can't ignore the inherent irony in the Beauty Bar holding what is basically a country show, let me just say that it's only a matter of time before Meeks is recognized as one of the best roots acts in the region, especially when his debut LP drops early next year. BACKUP PLAN: Happy Christmakwanzakkah! Finish up that last-minute holiday shopping, because there's only two days left until Christmas. If you're Jewish, Hanukkah technically started two evenings ago, which means you're totally screwed. And if you celebrate Kwanzaa, I'm pretty sure you're not obligated to buy gifts for anybody. Lucky bastards.