Wednesday, Dec. 31
PLAN A: The Night Marchers, The Soft Pack, The Cheap Leis @ Belly Up Tavern. The Night Marchers released the best local album of the year with See You in Magic, so what better way to end 2008 than by joining them in celebration with some North County dudes (The Soft Pack) and the area's coolest Hawaiian band (The Cheap Leis)? PLAN B: Steve Poltz, The Rugburns @ The Casbah. This New Year's Eve throwdown features a legendary local songwriter (Poltz) and his former band of cleverer-than-thou indie rockers (The Rugburns). How could you not love a band that had the cajones to title an album Morning Wood? BACKUP PLAN: MSTRKRFT @ Spin.
Thursday, Jan. 1
PLAN A: The Intelligence, Christmas Island @ Bar Pink. The Intelligence mush together a big spitball out of screeching keyboards, loser pop, post-punk and noise, and hock it against the wall. It sticks to the surface so hard you have to scrape it off with a chisel. BACKUP PLAN: New Year's Day should officially be re-titled “Hangover Respite Day.” Lie in bed, watch bad movies, drink a few gallons of water and try to forget all the embarrassing things you did last night.
Friday, Jan. 2
PLAN A: Nashville Ramblers, Plastic Nancy, DJ Tony the Tyger, Action Andy y los Caballeros Psychedelicos @ The Casbah. Taking the way-back machine to the mid-'80s, The Casbah starts its anniversary month with a local band that formed the year I was born (Ramblers). To cop a line from George Carlin, they were cool before I could even figure out which side of the playpen smelled the worst. PLAN B: Pocket @ Anthology. Pocket mixes Meters-worthy grooves with jazz chops, even throwing in some rock 'n' soul grit for good measure. Sooner or later, this hard-gigging local band will have their time in the sun. BACKUP PLAN: Drew Andrews, Roll Film @ Ruby Room.
Saturday, Jan. 3
PLAN A: The Slackers, The Impalers, Self Made Men @ The Casbah. On paper, The Slackers are my worst nightmare—a group of six white guys playing ska. In practice, they're an antidote to the wackiness suggested by their unfortunate disposition, performing rocksteady and roots-reggae with style and grace. PLAN B: Henry Clay People, Writer, Hotel St. George @ Ruby Room. If Death Cab and The Hold Steady moved to L.A. and formed a Tom Petty cover band, it would sound something like Henry Clay People. Whether that's a good thing probably depends on your tolerance for earnestness and bar bands.
Sunday, Jan. 4
PLAN A: B.B. King @ House of Blues. After 59 years of marriage, B.B. and his guitar, Lucille, are still hanging in there. Better see them together now, because it's uncertain when they'll finally call it quits. PLAN B: Mike Watt + The Secondmen, Mr. Tube and the Flying Objects @ The Casbah. Mike Watt, 51 now, is living proof that the punk ethic needn't die with age. He's built a career based on intelligence, hard work and humility, which is a hell of a lot more than you can say for the majority of rock musicians. PLAN C: The Outlaw Collective @ Dizzy's. Five jazz cats from the prestigious Berklee College of Music show us mere mortals that our worst fears were true—we have no compositional talent and should therefore be banished from ever operating a musical instrument. BACKUP PLAN: Hans Condor, Gumbi, Les Deux Magots @ Soda Bar.
Monday, Jan. 5
PLAN A: The Long and Short of It, Archons, Get Your Death On, Firethorn @ The Casbah. Four working-class San Diego bands cut out all the bullshit and play loud, heavy rock 'n' roll. Caution: This is a no-fashion zone, so you'd do well to leave the scarf and fedora at home. PLAN B: This Bike is a Pipe Bomb @ Bar Pink and Che Café. Their name makes absolutely no sense by any stretch of the imagination, but kudos, anyway, to this folky punk act for playing two shows at different venues in one night—at Che Café (7 p.m.) and Bar Pink (10 p.m.). BACKUP PLAN: Matthew Reveles, Dakota Jeane @ Soda Bar.
Tuesday, Jan. 6
PLAN A: George Clinton & The P-Funk All-Stars @ House of Blues. George Clinton smokes crack. Apparently, he couldn't get enough of the stuff—the guy had three cocaine and drug-paraphernalia charges within a year. But what would you expect from a 67-year-old with rainbow hair extensions who titled one of his albums Funkentelechy Vs. the Placebo Syndrome? PLAN B: Earthless, Hostile Combover, Demasiado, Nightmares @ The Casbah. For the second night in a row, four local hard-rock bands arrive at The Casbah to douche your ears with waves of sonic terror. Sometimes, tinnitus is simply worth the risk.