Wednesday, Aug. 6
PLAN A: Ex-Cult, Zig Zags, Octagrape @ Til-Two Club. Memphis garage rockers Ex-Cult have a dirty sound, but not a raunchy one. They're dark, but not necessarily goth. They're disorienting, but not entirely psychedelic. And they definitely have their share of cool, weird, reverb-heavy songs that'll get your feet moving. BACKUP PLAN: New Madrid, Swimm, Moonpool @ Soda Bar.
Thursday, Aug. 7
PLAN A: Courtney Barnett, Crystal Skulls @ The Casbah. If you haven't yet, read AnnaMaria Stephens' feature on Australian singer / songwriter Courtney Barnett in last week's issue. She's a tunesmith with an ear for intriguingly off-kilter melodies and intimate, slice-of-life lyrics. There are a lot of good shows happening this week, but put this near the top. BACKUP PLAN: Barbarian, Oliver Trolley, Hobie Givens @ Soda Bar.
Friday, Aug. 8
PLAN A: Eukaryst, Unicorn Death, Imbalanced, Dark Measure @ The Merrow. This week, I wrote about San Diego death-metal outfit Eukaryst, who recently released their debut album, Dreams in the Witch House , and are about to launch their first West Coast tour. The first date is right here in town, so don your torn denim vest and get in the pit with all the other heshers. PLAN B: The Sidekicks, Dowsing, Sundials, Groms @ The Che Café. Ohio's The Sidekicks are hard to describe as anything more original than "indie rock," but the music is a lot more satisfying than that. If you like guitars and hook-laden melodies, then this might be the band for you.
Saturday, Aug. 9
PLAN A: Drenge, Wax Witches, Glasmus @ Soda Bar. I'm always a little suspicious when someone calls a band "post-grunge," because that usually translates to "Creed." Not so with U.K. outfit Drenge, who are a bit more like Arctic Monkeys, or a two-person Queens of the Stone Age by way of The Smiths. Big melodies, big guitars—what's not to like? PLAN B: The Good Life, Big Harp @ The Casbah. In case you need a reminder, The Good Life is the quieter, more chamber-pop-leaning project of Cursive's Tim Kasher. They've been on the back burner for a while, thanks to Cursive's extensive touring. But if you've missed that mixture of angst and pretty melodies, then you'll want to get in line for this one.
Sunday, Aug. 10
PLAN A: Diarrhea Planet, Those Darlins, Buddy Banter @ Soda Bar. Your enthusiasm for this show will probably hinge on how comfortable you are watching a band called "Diarrhea Planet," but if you can get past the scatological barrier, this Nashville-based punk group will win you over pretty quickly—if not with their four-guitar wall of sound, then definitely with their catchy, noisy tunes. PLAN B: Sara Beth, Whales Whailing, Johanna Warren @ Lestat's. Whales Whailing is the project of former San Diegan and current Portlander Peter Ryan, and it's a stunning thing to hear. He incorporates gentle guitars, hypnotic post-rock arrangements, dark atmosphere and gorgeous vocal harmonies into a sound that's accessible but not necessarily familiar. Very cool stuff. BACKUP PLAN: Crocodiles, Tweens, Viv Vates @ The Casbah.
Monday, Aug. 11
PLAN A: Iron & Wine, Jerome Holloway @ Humphrey's Concerts by the Bay. Spend the weekend tenderizing your body with some intense punk or metal bands? Then maybe Monday's a good day to dial it back, settle into a comfy seat by the bay and let Sam Beam serenade you with his sweet, soulful folk-rock. Beam's songwriting with Iron & Wine only grows more interesting with each release, and his repertoire is diverse enough to make you forget he ever covered The Postal Service. PLAN B: Steve Gunn, Matt Kivel, Sick Balloons @ Soda Bar. Steve Gunn is best known for being a member of The Violators—the backing band of Philadelphia singer / songwriter Kurt Vile. But Gunn's got some great songs of his own, which have a laid-back, yet psychedelic feel that gives him a creative edge over so many other indie folk-sters.
Tuesday, Aug. 12
PLAN A: Harper Simon, Guy Blakeslee, Henry Wolfe, Pearl Charles @ The Casbah. I reached my limit on adorable twee indie pop a long time ago—probably around the 100th time I heard a ukulele in a commercial. But there's something about Harper Simon that makes me want to make an exception. Maybe it's because his music isn't overly precious, or maybe it's because he sounds sort of like Paul Simon, but, either way, it works.