Wednesday, July 2
PLAN A: Peter Murphy, Ringo Deathstarr @ Belly Up Tavern. Goth icon and former Bauhaus frontman Peter Murphy has recently had some embarrassing run-ins with the law, but the man still knows how to work a crowd. Whether he's resurrecting some old post-punk classics or simply playing newer solo material, he's got the charisma to dazzle all the creatures of the night. PLAN B: Reigning Sound, The Heartaches, International Dipshit @ Soda Bar. Memphis' Reigning Sound do garage rock the old-school way—heavy on Hammond organ and dripping with sweaty, meaty soul. It takes more than a fuzzbox to make a good song, and this band knows that better than most of their peers.
Thursday, July 3
PLAN A: Ronnie Spector, DJ Claire @ The North Park Theatre. Ronnie Spector is a founding member of girl group The Ronettes, a pop-music legend and an all-around badass. Whether you know her from "Be My Baby" or her EP of punk covers, She Talks to Rainbows , you know this is a show not to be missed. PLAN B: Wild Cub, Night Riots @ House of Blues. I have a lot of affection for dreamy-sounding bands with lots of synthesizers, but they still have to be good songwriters if I'm to actually give a shit. Wild Cub's songs, as it turns out, are pretty damn good. It helps that new album Youth has as much Prince influence as it does that of OMD. BACKUP PLAN: Metalachi, Geezer @ The Casbah.
Friday, July 4
PLAN A: Barbecued Ribs, Cans o' Beer, Blowin' Shit Up @ Your House. There are a surprising number of clubs open and hosting shows on the Fourth of July, but I'm hesitant to recommend something over a good old-fashioned backyard barbecue with some cold ones in the cooler and fireworks exploding in the sky. PLAN B: Ringo Deathstarr, Hills Like Elephants, The Cardielles, Killer Hertz, Gloomsday @ Soda Bar. But, hell, if a venue's putting on a good show, might as well check it out, right? Ass-kicking shoegazers Ringo Deathstarr are headlining this lineup, which also features some killer local bands. It's only $4, and Soda Bar promises pizza and barbecue, which sounds like a win to me.
Saturday, July 5
PLAN A: Amen Dunes, Axxas / Abraxas, Octagrape @ Soda Bar. Amen Dunes is essentially one guy: Damon McMahon. But you wouldn't necessarily know it from his richly arranged psychedelic folk songs, which never sound impossibly dense, just warmly layered enough to feel like the work of four stargazing, desert-wandering weirdos. PLAN B: Grand Funk Railroad @ Del Mar Fairgrounds. You kids don't know Grand Funk? The wild shirtless lyrics of Mark Farner? The bong-rattling bass of Mel Schacher? The competent drum work of Don Brewer? Oh, man! BACKUP PLAN: The Creepy Creeps, Schitzophonics, Love Hungry Men @ The Casbah.
Sunday, July 6
PLAN A: Def Leppard, Kiss, Kobra and the Lotus, Jake Dreyer @ Sleep Train Amphitheatre. Yes, a double bill of Kiss and Def Leppard is almost too much schlock rock to handle. And, yes, we're about 30 years past either band's prime—at least. But fuck it: Def Leppard and Kiss are playing together, and that's a spectacle too good to pass up. It'll be worth it for no other reason than the possibility that Leppard might play something from High 'n' Dry . PLAN B: Foreign Suns, Boychick, Future Age @ Soda Bar. The live-music calendar thins out a bit after the 4th of July, but there's ample opportunity for you to hear some good local music. Take, for instance, hard-rocking duo Foreign Suns, who milk plenty of noisy, albeit danceable, sound out of just guitar and drums.
Monday, July 7
PLAN A: Thunders, R.A. Rosenborg, Splavender @ Soda Bar. Chicago's Thunders play a drunken, sleazoid style of punk rock that boasts hooks for days, even when it sounds like a total fucking mess. In fact, that's part of the appeal. These dudes make a lot of noise, but push aside some of the feedback and empty pizza boxes and you'll find some excellent melodies.
Tuesday, July 8
PLAN A: The Foreign Exchange @ Winstons. The Foreign Exchange is kind of like hip-hop's version of The Postal Service. Dutch producer Nicolay and American MC Phonte created a long-distance beats-and-rhymes project that eventually turned into their 2004 debut, Connected . They never actually met in person until after the album was done, but the work they created still sounds fresh. They'll prove it onstage with this 10th-anniversary tour of that landmark album.