Wednesday, Sept. 26
PLAN A: Bebel Gilberto Trio, DJ Karlos Paez @ Belly Up Tavern. The daughter of Brazilian bossa nova giant João Gilberto, New York-born singer Bebel Gilberto gives the tropical sounds of her papa an extra-sweet touch with a lovely, lighthearted voice and slick, borderline-Eurotrash electronic beats. PLAN B: Rodriguez, Nothingful @ The Casbah. The only reason this show isn't Plan A is because it's sold out, but you should try to get in somehow. The subject of the hit 2012 documentary Searching for Sugar Man, Detroit-born songwriter Sixto Rodriguez garnered critical acclaim years ago in South Africa for his stirring, psych-tinged protest songs. Now, he's finally getting due recognition in his home country. BACKUP PLAN: Cuckoo Chaos, Bruin, DJ Deadair, Yarns & Noble @ Soda Bar.
Thursday, Sept. 27
PLAN A: Amon Tobin, Holy Other @ House of Blues. This won't be your average laptop-assisted, knob-twiddling electronic music show. As you'll read in Justin Roberts' feature, inventive electronic artist Amon Tobin combines beats with complex, ever-changing visuals in this ISAM Live show, leaving audiences stunned. PLAN B: Embers, Spectral Tomes, Ghoulgotha @ Ché Café. Though members of Embers have played in political hardcore bands, this Oakland outfit specializes in the kind of regal, expansive black-metal that Dracula would listen to while he's sipping some of the finest blood from a golden chalice. BACKUP PLAN: The Features, Army Navy, The Palace Ballroom @ The Casbah.
Friday, Sept. 28
PLAN A: Menomena, PVT @ The Casbah. Because of some ongoing inter-band drama, Portland's Menomena stripped down from a trio to a two-piece for their new record, Moms. But that hasn't diminished their sound—if anything, they seem bigger as they conjure their blisteringly heady, wonderfully neurotic indie-rock. PLAN B: Kelsea Rae Little, Benjamin Miriello @ Tin Can Ale House. Harp-plucking, piano-playing singer-songwriter Kelsea Rae Little has been taking it easy with physical activity since getting hit by a car last month. Thankfully, though, her hands are fine and she's kept busy exercising her lovely voice. BACKUP PLAN: Candye Kane @ Anthology.
Saturday, Sept. 29
PLAN A: DeVotchKa @ The Casbah. The four members of Colorado's DeVotchKa play a dizzying array of instruments, including accordion, melodica, theremin, bouzouki and sousaphone. Even at their most eclectic, though, their songs feel simple, effortless and instantly catchy. PLAN B: Communist Daughter, The Palace Ballroom, Tonto @ Soda Bar. Taking cues from the likes of The Shins and Bon Iver, Minnesota folk-rockers Communist Daughter balance angelic vocal harmonies with glum lyrics and moody riffs. Often, the result sounds as smooth as a baby's bottom.
Sunday, Sept. 30
PLAN A: GZA, Killer Mike, Sweet Valley, Bear Hands @ Belly Up Tavern. With its kung-fu samples, chess references, mesmerizing beats and peerless rhymes, GZA's 1995 album Liquid Swords is mandatory listening for any hip-hop fan. Commemorating the recent release of a deluxe reissue (replete with an actual chess set), the Wu-Tang Clan veteran will perform the album front-to-back. PLAN B: The Shins, Washed Out @ SDSU Open Air Theatre. The Shins' main man James Mercer went all out for Port of Morrow, the band's first album in five years. Aided by big, clean production, he delivers everything from grandiose power-pop ("Simple Song") to breezy, feel-good pop ("September," "Fall of '82"). BACKUP PLAN: Social Club, Sahab, Ssssnake, Beta Lion @ Soda Bar.
Monday, Oct. 1
PLAN A: Sonnymoon, B. Lewis, Rebuilder, Sasquatch, Boarsley @ Kava Lounge. Taking inspiration from the mysteries of the cosmos, Boston outfit Sonnymoon mix sweet vocals with trippy synths and steady R&B grooves to make something delightfully sweet and just a little surreal. PLAN B: The Spring Standards, Midnight Parade, Rodello's Machine @ Soda Bar. I don't know what it is about Brooklyn that attracts so many Americana bands, but The Spring Standards have the same fiddle-topped, country-bumpkin sensibility as fellow Brooklynites The Defibulators. Only the former can be a bit more sentimental at times. BACKUP PLAN: The Wombats @ House of Blues.
Tuesday, Oct. 2
PLAN A: Wolf Gang, The Royal Concept, Frank & Derol @ The Casbah. Not to be mistaken with the Wolf Gang that features Tyler, the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt, British pop-rockers Wolf Gang match the new-wave hooks of The Cars with the explosiveness of Florence + The Machine, making for a big, sweaty pop overload.