Wednesday, Aug. 15
PLAN A: Fun., Chiddy Bang @ SDSU Open Air Theatre. One of the finest pop bands around today, New York City's Fun. explore deep, universal human themes with rich harmonies, rolling percussion and dramatic, soaring melodies. Indeed, they're not just out to have a little fun: The music video for their single "Some Nights" depicts stark Civil War scenes. PLAN B: Aesop Rock, Rob Sonic & DJ Big Wiz, Edison, Dark Time Sunshine @ Belly Up Tavern. Underground rap icon Aesop Rock sounds as visceral and challenging as ever on his new album, Skelethon, garnering solid reviews from critics for relentless, surrealist rhymes and intense, imaginative beats that sound anything but ordinary. Needless to say, this should be a primo show. BACKUP PLAN: Awesome Force, Balloons, Mike Bleeds, Space Town Saviors @ Soda Bar.
Thursday, Aug. 16
PLAN A: Braid, Owen, TS & The Past Haunts @ The Irenic (3090 Polk Ave.). On their classic 1998 album Frame and Canvas, Illinois indie-rockers Braid helped define the original emo sound with weird time signatures, enthralling guitar work and heartfelt lyrics. Though emo has since gone the way of spiky haircuts and black eye shadow, the reunited band still keeps it real. PLAN B: Alabama Shakes, Futurebirds @ House of Blues. Sounding classic in all the best ways, Alabama Shakes frontwoman Brittany Howard channels the spirit of Janis Joplin with her aching, soulful vocals. Her band's great, too, holding it down with bluesy garage-rock grooves. BACKUP PLAN: Big Freedia, Hot Tub, Smile Now Cry Later, DJ Claire @ The Casbah.
Friday, Aug. 17
PLAN A: The Joshua White / Jeff Denson Project feat. Walter Smith III @ 98 Bottles. Don't expect a dutiful showcase of dusty old jazz standards at this show. Joshua White is one of the most innovative, expressive jazz pianists in San Diego, and accomplished bassist Jeff Denson has a keen ear for narrative and mood. Together, they're bound to deliver a powerful, one-of-a-kind performance. PLAN B: "¡Gematria!" w/ Psychopop, MR.IMD, Eddie Turbo, Prince Zohar @ Kava Lounge. This Latin American-style dance party will include a Mariscos Germán fish-taco truck, a zebra piñata and tropical tunes from DJs Eddie Turbo and Prince Zohar. But MR.IMD might bring a little darkness to the affair: A local designer and multimedia artist, he makes funky beats with gritty textures. BACKUP PLAN: Immortal Technique, Diabolic, Akir, Swave Sevah, DJ GI Joe @ Porter's Pub.
Saturday, Aug. 18
PLAN A: The Silent Comedy, Stripes and Lines, Family Wagon @ Belly Up Tavern. Local Americana favorites The Silent Comedy have been touring relentlessly this year, and this is just one stop on another big trek across the country. You know what that means: They'll be limber, well-practiced and ready to get sweaty. PLAN B: Johnny Rad Fest @ Kensington Club. If you missed King Tuff's performance at Soda Bar recently, here's your chance to see the lovable garage-pop misfit in action. This two-day fest features plenty of other rad bands, too: For tickets and a full schedule, search for "Johnny Rad Fest" on Facebook. BACKUP PLAN: Hyena, Jamuel Saxon, Hills Like Elephants, Church Hustlers @ The Casbah.
Sunday, Aug. 19
PLAN A: WL, Mad Kiwi @ Soda Bar. Though WL has only one song posted on their Bandcamp page, it's good enough to merit a closer look. On "No Escape," the Portland band juxtaposes droning guitar-and-drums chug with eerily high-pitched female vocals, offering a dark, stripped-down take on shoegaze. BACKUP PLAN: Dick Dale, Mattson 2 @ Belly Up Tavern.
Monday, Aug. 20
PLAN A: Nicky Da B, Illuminauts, Parker & The Numberman, Kill Quanti DJs @ The Casbah. With his frantic beats and clipped, high-speed vocals, New Orleans bounce artist Nicky Da B has gotten plenty of buzz lately. He recently worked with Diplo on the booty-shaking dance floor banger "Express Yourself," and the music video for his song "Hot Potato Style" is delightfully zany. BACKUP PLAN: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Euphoria Brass Band @ Belly Up Tavern.
Tuesday, Aug. 21
PLAN A: Joy, Pink Films, Residual Echoes @ Tin Can Ale House. Local trio Joy always tears it up with acid-fried psych-rock jams, but make sure to show up early for Residual Echoes. The Los Angeles band sounds like a hippied-out Dinosaur Jr. with scorched, hard-charging, paisley-tinged riffs. BACK- UP PLAN: Stephen Rey & The Sextrash, Flossie Le Strange @ El Dorado.