Wednesday, Jan. 7
PLAN A: The Spurts, Luxury Sweets @ Radio Room. In the vein of deceased power-pop heroes The Exploding Hearts, these two groups of Bay Area delinquents reinterpret your favorite punk singles of old into new youth anthems. PLAN B: Bob Log III, The Heartaches, The Widows @ The Casbah. One-man hick band Bob Log has spent too much time in Tucson, where heat stroke may have affected his perception. During shows, Log wears a glittering helmet with a tinted face guard, designed to make him look like an outlaw biker from another planet. That pretty much says it all. BACKUP PLAN: Syrup, Magic Johnson, Guidance Counselor @ Che Café.
Thursday, Jan. 8
PLAN A: Lucy's Fur Coat, The Blackout Party @ The Casbah. Their Friday show is sold out, so if you want to relive the glory days of Lucy's Fur Coat, you'll have to see this unsung local alt-rock band tonight. It might be your last chance. PLAN B: The Measure, Vena Cava, Dan Padilla, Batman vs. Predator @ Soda Bar. Does pop-punk grow up and retain the youthful energy that made it appealing in the first place? Tune in to the next episode of How I Met Your Motherfucker to find out. BACKUP PLAN: Pancho Sanchez @ Anthology.
Friday, Jan. 9
PLAN A: Thavius Beck, K-the-I???, Left Handed Scientists @ Kava Lounge. What kind of progressive hip-hop act gets a spotlight in NME? In this case, it's Thavius Beck and K-the-I???, whose latest collaboration, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, could be the belated West Coast counterpart to Company Flow's Funcrusher Plus. PLAN B: Hawnay Troof, All Leather @ Che Café. Whether you actually like his music is secondary to appreciating Hawnay Troof's kinetic live performances. With All Leather, the newest project from The Locust / 31G mastermind Justin Pearson, this is as energetic a show as you'll find during the early-year lull. BACKUP PLAN: Charles Musket, Cuckoo Chaos, Gray Ghosts.
Saturday, Jan. 10
PLAN A: The Dragons, Deadbolt, Wild Weekend, Black Hondo @ The Casbah. Mario Escovedo and family are essential to the identity of San Diego music, and his Dragons are much beloved by the local rock faithful, so if you're at this show, there's a strong chance you didn't find out about it here. PLAN B: Christmas Island, Rapid Youth, No Paws (No Lions), Blessure Grave @ Soda Bar. Combine the ages of Sam and Rogers from No Paws (No Lions), and it equals less than Mario Escovedo's 42 years. This is like the kids' table to The Casbah's post-holiday punk feast. That's not a bad thing. PLAN C: David Hidalgo & Louis Perez @ Poway Center for the Performing Arts. Hidalgo and Perez are songwriters for legendary L.A. roots group Los Lobos, and this rare acoustic performance by the duo closely follows the full band's show at House of Blues on Dec. 11. My guess? They'll be back in town again before you know it. PLAN D: Bonfire @ House of Blues. Keys to being in a good AC/DC cover band: 1. No songs recorded after 1980. 2. If you play tracks from Back in Black, no Brian Johnson stand-in allowed. 3. Your Angus Young impersonator must wear short-shorts. 4. Do not allow your lead singer to choke on his own vomit.
Sunday, Jan. 11
PLAN A: C.L.A., Janu and the Whalesharks @ The Casbah. Janu and the Whalesharks may very well be Orange County's most likeable indie-folk and bluegrass band, but they'd be doing everyone a favor if they changed their name. PLAN B: River City, Golden Red @ Radio Room. Alongside kindred souls John Meeks and Little White Teeth, River City are riding a local wave of folk-inflected rock that should receive much more attention in 2009.
Monday, Jan. 12
PLAN A: Furious IV, Olivelawn @ The Casbah. I'm pretty sure there's no such a thing as a “furious” intravenous needle. I think “painful” would be a better way to describe it. Wait, IV is the Roman numeral for four? OK, I get it now. PLAN B: Andrew Jackson Jihad, Doctor Bird, Kepi Ghoulie, Dan Janisch @ Che Café. They're either declaring holy war on a dead president or Phoenix folk-punkers Andrew Jackson Jihad are just really pissed because they don't have many $20 bills. But even their singer admits, “I wish I had more money than I have / And I know that that's not punk / But I'd like to pay my rent.”
Tuesday, Jan. 13
PLAN A: Meat Puppets, Benji Hughes, I See Hawks in L.A. @ The Casbah. Finding his way back to music following years of extensive drug abuse and two years of jail time, Meat Puppets bassist Cris Kirkwood is finally clean and back to touring with Arizona's finest exports. Well done, sir. PLAN B: Sunshine Factory, Black Mamba, Brown & Blue @ Beauty Bar. Naming your band Sunshine Factory is practically begging for lame heckles, especially when you throw in melancholy piano ballads like “Faux Real.” Some jackass in the crowd is just waiting to shout, “Lighten up!” or “Play a happy one!” Here's some advice: Just stick with the whimsical stuff.