Wednesday, May 5
PLAN A: The Tallest Man on Earth @ The Loft at UCSD. Don't show up hoping to see some gigantic, Guinness-sponsored circus freak traveling from town to town. But, behold! You'll still be blown away by this Swedish troubadour—of average height—with major guitar chops, cathartic lyrics and a golden voice that resembles Dylan in his prime. PLAN B: Mastodon, Between the Buried and Me, Baroness, Valient Thorr @ House of Blues. After being knocked on my ass by 2004's Leviathan, I thought for sure Mastodon was going to follow it up with a Black Album-style sell-out record. But six years and two albums later, the Atlanta metal band is still the best around, and whether you saw them on the SOMA sidestage in '04 or at Street Scene last year, you know they bring the pain live. Oh, and show up early for some extra face-melting from fellow Georgia boys Baroness.
Thursday, May 6
PLAN A: Mono, Balmorhea @ The Casbah. Listen, I know The Casbah smoking patio can sometimes resemble a scenester version of the Roman forum, but this is not the show to be a social butterfly. It's time to shut up and take in Tokyo-based Mono's mix of instrumental post-rock and contemporary classical music. Austin's Balmorhea are equally intimate, sounding like the score for some lost Lars von Trier western. BACKUP PLAN: Drive-By Truckers, Henry Clay People @ House of Blues.
Friday, May 7
PLAN A: Michael Pisaro with Greg Stuart and Red Fish Blue Fish @ Sushi Performance & Visual Art. Take an L.A. composer, one South Carolina percussionist and a local drum ensemble, throw them together and see what magic unfolds. Sushi's “Fresh Sound Series” is already revered for putting together one-time-only performances, and this one is no different. PLAN B: Charlie Hunter, Onomatopoetic @ The Loft at UCSD. With songs like “High Pockets and a Fanny Pack” and “Ode to My Honda Odyssey,” Hunter is a rare jazzman who doesn't take himself too seriously, which only makes his music better. Loose and fun, yet intricate and disciplined, he plays custom-made eight-string guitars that allow him to simultaneously play lead, rhythm and bass guitar. Kinda nuts to witness. BACKUP PLAN: Irradio, Lord Howler, The Bloodflowers, Joey Harris & The Mentals @ The Beauty Bar.
Saturday, May 8
PLAN A: The Long and Short Of It, Boyscout, Death Eaters, Drug Wars @ The Casbah. With exception of Drug Wars, who're pretty awesome in their own right, we've done features on all the bands on this bill. Why? Because every one of them plays exceptional hard rock that will kick your ass, bang your mom and pour sugar in your gas tank. Figuratively speaking, of course. PLAN B: Cate Le Bon @ The Loft at UCSD. Called everything from the “Welsh Nico” to the “freak folk version of St. Vincent,” Cate Le Bon bypasses all the typical folky, female singer-songwriter pitfalls for a sound that's rooted in noir but pleasant on the ears. A femme fatale, indeed. BACKUP PLAN: Dave Alvin @ Acoustic Music San Diego.
Sunday, May 9
PLAN A: Red Sparowes, Fang Island, Kata @ The Casbah. They may be musically incongruent, but the two main bands on this bill are both pretty astounding in their own special ways. L.A.'s Red Sparowes play sweeping, grand instrumental rock in the vein of bands like Pelican and ISIS, while Brooklyn's Fang Island is more focused on fun than fatalism. They've described their music as “everyone high-fiving everyone,” and I can't say that I disagree. Slap! BACKUP PLAN: The Twelves, Grum, Brady Spear @ Voyeur.
Monday, May 10
PLAN A: V.V. Brown @ The Loft at UCSD. Brown may have missed that first boat of English female pop singers that reached a saturation point back in 2008 (Kate Nash, Adele, Lily Allen, Duffy—trust me, I could go on for days), but Brown is just edgy enough to make me think she'd be worth checking out live. If she breaks out in a Spice Girls cover, though, I'm out. BACKUP PLAN: Carney, Long Live Logos, Gun Runner @ The Casbah.
Tuesday, May 11
PLAN A: Los Campesinos!, Signals @ San Diego Woman's Club. The seven Welsh youngsters in the headlining band are garnering quite the following for their vigorous live shows that combine danceable indie-pop and a punk spirit, complete with a glockenspiel. If you can't rock out to a song like “You! Me! Dancing!” you might want check your pulse to see if you're dead. PLAN B: Seven Saturdays, Arrows, Marcelo Radulovich @ Soda Bar. Make-Out Show of the Week alert! After dancing around to Arrows (see our feature on this page), relax, take a shot of whiskey—better yet, find a booth, because Seven Saturdays is so trancey and atmospheric that they're up there with oysters and pheromone sprays in the aphrodisiac department. BACKUP PLAN: Lucky Tubb, Hands Down South, Old Devil @ Brick by Brick.