Wednesday, March 19
PLAN A: Ski Lodge, The Belle Game, TV Girl @ Soda Bar. The Belle Game sound like all of the indie-rock bands you like. I don't say this to discredit or dismiss the band—quite the contrary: They mash in a little bit of the best of groups like Broken Social Scene and Grizzly Bear, with the songwriting chops to live up to those comparisons. It's not like I said they sound like all the indie rock bands you hate .
Thursday, March 20
PLAN A: Lydia Loveless, Nena Anderson @ Seven Grand. Ohio alt-country troubadour Lydia Loveless has a soulful yet rough-and-tumble sound that will likely bring to mind Neko Case. Not that she's not her own artist, of course, but that's not a comparison I throw around lightly, so she gets my Plan A recommendation without hesitation. PLAN B: Weekend, Cities Aviv, Surf Club @ The Casbah. Now here's an eclectic bill: The noisy shoegaze sounds of Weekend and the experimental hip-hop of Cities Aviv, back to back. All told, you're getting a great show. BACKUP PLAN: Lecherous Gaze, Dirty Fences, JC Satan, Wild Honey @ Til-Two Club.
Friday, March 21
PLAN A: Boogarins, Amerikan Bear, Muscle Beech @ Tower Bar. Boogarins are a psychedelic-rock band from Brazil, and if that makes you think Tropicalia, you're on the right track. This group has some Os Mutantes in their musical DNA, and if you ask me, that's far more exciting than taking inspiration from Floyd or The Doors. PLAN B: English Beat, 2 Tone Sounds @ Belly Up Tavern. Considering Dave Wakeling has been in California for some time now, the opportunity to see English Beat arises a lot more often than it used to, though that doesn't necessarily mean you should pass it up. If Special Beat Service isn't a new-wave classic, I'll eat my hat (full disclosure: I don't own a hat). BACKUP PLAN: Nobunny, Hunx and His Punx, Shannon and the Clams @ The Irenic.
Saturday, March 22
PLAN A: Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Valerie June, DJ Claire @ House of Blues. Last year, Sharon Jones had to cancel her tour and album-release plans because she was undergoing cancer treatment. But she's back, energized and ready to bring some funk to our fair town. Plan to be there, unless you have a problem with fun or joy. PLAN B: The Widows, Neighborhood Brats, D.P.I., Pissed Regardless @ Soda Bar. Which isn't to say you can't have fun or take some joy while seeing a rowdy punk-rock show. In which case, this is the one to go to. BACKUP PLAN: The Loons, Schitzophonics, Operation Mindblow Lightshow, Los Sweepers, The Grim Imperials @ The Casbah.
Sunday, March 23
PLAN A: London Grammar, Highasakite @ House of Blues. London Grammar first caught my attention last year with "Help Me Lose My Mind," their stunning collaboration with U.K. house act Disclosure. But the group's got some dreamy, floaty pop of their own that's well worth hearing. Spin their debut, If You Wait , and get blissed out. PLAN B: Ana Tijoux, Kumbia Queers, Cumbia Machin @ The Casbah. French-Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux began her career as a member of Makiza but later branched out into more mainstream Latin pop sounds after going solo. And if the name sounds familiar but you just can't place it, her song "1977" appeared in "Shotgun," an episode in Season 4 of Breaking Bad .
Monday, March 24
PLAN A: Kool Keith, Grammatical B, Odessa Kane, Old English, DJ Artistic @ The Casbah. You may know Kool Keith as either a member of hip-hop pioneers Ultramagnetic MCs, villianous rapper Dr. Dooom or, more likely, the MC behind the cartoonishly sinister Dr. Octagon. In any case, heís a living legend and a hip-hop icon. Any true head wouldn't miss this one. PLAN B: Doomsquad, Coldair, The Anomaly @ Soda Bar. Given their name, Doomsquad sounds like they'd be either doom metal or a massive hip-hop posse—or, perhaps, both! The music they actually play is a miasmal electronic post-rock kind of thing, which on paper doesn't seem as cool, but musically, sounds great.
Tuesday, March 25
PLAN A: Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra, Pony Death Ride @ Soda Bar. San Diego's premier robot-and-professor duo, Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra, is about to release a new album, Experiments with Auto-Croon , and here's your chance to hear what they've been cooking up in the lab. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, then all you need to know is that there's going to be a robot on stage.