PLAN A: North Atlantic w/ The Living Blue @ The Casbah. The North Atlantic were on their way to being one of the biggest bands in San Diego before a member left to do this new fad called “college.” Now they're back, and their jaunty, screamy chant-punk is as deadly as ever. The Living Blue is a sleeper Champagne, Ill., band with enough hot guitar licks and garage bluster to possibly steal the show.
PLAN A: Aceyalone w/ RJD2 @ Porter's Pub. When one of L.A.'s seminal MCs teams with the underground master of pastiche, you get albums like Magnificent City, which will definitely get Acey a couple “hip-hop album of the year” nods. PLAN B: Tribute to Rage Against the Machine @ Brick by Brick. Area rock en español bands give big, bilingual ups to the thing we all wish Zack de la Rocha never stopped doing.
PLAN A: Mary Gauthier @ Acoustic Music San Diego. As a girl, she stole the folks' car, dropped out of school and ran away, only to find drugs were really hard to quit. As a woman, she's become one of the most poignant singer-songwriters in her own genre she likes to call “country noir.” Simple, hard-worn songs about people you wish you knew but didn't have to live with. PLAN B: Otis Taylor @ Humphrey's Backstage Lounge. We got the date wrong on this show last week-this one's right. Otis practices what he likes to call “trance-blues,” which means he's spooky and so intense you wonder if he might boil your intestines in a pot. Two of his albums-White African and Respect the Dead-are among the finest blues records of the last decade. PLAN C: The Wedding Present @ The Casbah. For a time post-Smiths, they were it in terms of British indie-pop. See review, Page 30. PLAN D: 2-Mex @ The Epicentre. A crewmember of The Visionaries, the L.A. MC raps/speaks as though he's got marbles in his mouth that are slow-releasing Novocain. As fascinating as it is affecting. PLAN E: Kate Earl @ Lestat's. Yes, there's a PLAN E, for Earl. Her debut on Record Collection (Murs, The Walkmen) didn't quite get across the sultry charm that made her a mainstay on KCRW. But live, you'll fall in love.
PLAN A: Beyond the Pale @ Dizzy's. If you've ever been to a Jewish wedding where old men hoist a blushing bride and her chair skyward, teetering and dancing as though she might die before consummating the marriage-and you loved it, then you probably love Klezmer. One of the best is Toronto's Beyond the Pale, a cultural experience that doesn't suck. In fact, their blend of Klez, Balkan and Romanian music with American styles like jazz, bluegrass and funk is entertaining as hell. Virtuosic without the need for No-Doz. PLAN B: David Lindley Band @ The Belly Up. The dude's talent with strings (guitar, fiddle, banjo, maybe shoe) has landed him next to a few decent codgers with names like Dylan, James Taylor, Graham Nash and Rod Stewart. Defying the laws of gifted sidemen, his solo material isn't only loveable to guitar nerds.
PLAN A: Winard Harper @ Dizzy's. Real jazz icons don't often stop in San Diego now that the old Crossroads jazz club is a Starbucks. But Winard Harper is just that-a drummer who leads like Art Blakey and entertains like his old mentor, vocalist Betty Carter. With his younger brother he scored a No. 1 jazz album with the Harper Brothers' Remembrance: Live at the Village Vanguard. That's the key-working with Ms. Carter taught him that though he could be the cool end of a hot post-bop session, the main goal was to entertain, not let people gawk too seriously at your virtuosity. PLAN B: The Hold Steady @ The Casbah. For those who miss the manic ramblings of Murder City Devils frontman Spencer Moody, Craig Finn is your new twitchy hero. He's not as bloodthirsty, but his rambling story-songs over a bed of solid garage rock do a similar trick that's more intelligible.
PLAN A: “Tribute to the Legends” @ ipayOne Center. It's the 25th installment of San Diego dreads' homage to Bob Marley. They've always had top-notch acts, but this year dub had its first real breakout artist in a long time. Which means that while old-schoolers will come to see The Wailers, Gregory Isaacs or Freddie McGregor, a whole new legion of spliff-oriented youngsters will be there to gawk at that awkward super-Jew with a beard that's so unkempt it must be Hasidic. An international craft fair will run all day, and kiddos under 12 get in free (which also includes a complimentary contact high).
PLAN A: Nada Surf @ House of Blues. The fact that you can be written off as a post-grunge novelty and return a decade later as the new underground icons of harmony-pop means that there might be hope for Tab cola. Nada Surf came out of nowhere with the rich, vocal wonderland of Let Go in 2002, only to not go away this time and release the nearly-as-good Weight Is a Gift. Comeback player of the half decade. PLAN B: Sirhan Sirhan w/ The Prayers @ The Casbah. Sirhan Sirhan is a brand new metal-thrash band in San Diego that's making ugly noise sound cool all over again. The Prayers are the poppy side project of agit-punks The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower. Best free show in a while.