Wednesday, Dec. 17
PLAN A: Francisco the Man, Sundrop Electric, Philosopher's Ray Gun @ Soda Bar. If you don't get Francisco the Man confused with Portugal the Man, then you're a better person than I am. But name confusion aside, this band does great shoegaze pop with lots of big hooks and even bigger guitars.
Thursday, Dec. 18
PLAN A: Manual Scan, NE1, The Basics @ The Casbah. Mod power-pop group Manual Scan formed the year I was born (1981) and have had a ton of different members, but their hook-laden tunes are more or less ageless. They're still kicking, and still jangling, and headlining what promises to be a fun Thursday night. PLAN B: Corners, Tropical Popsicle, Subtropics @ The Hideout. There's something about this time of year that makes the gloomy and ominous tones of post-punk sound extra-good. And if you agree, you should make sure to catch Corners, a Los Angeles-based group that offers a perfect balance of reverb, danceable rhythms and coldwave synthesizers.
Friday, Dec. 19
PLAN A: Eukaryst, Sentinel, Thanatology, Morbid Eclipse @ Brick by Brick. 'Tis the season for death metal! Who am I kidding? Every season is the season for death metal, and this show's headlined by some homegrown brutes. Eukaryst's new album, Dreams in the Witch House , is a mighty-fine set of riffs and growls, and this is a good opportunity to catch up if you haven't heard 'em yet. PLAN B: Ziggy Shuffledust and the Spiders from Mars, Chinese Rocks, DJ Mike Delgado @ The Casbah. Perhaps 'tis also the season for glam rock. I don't often recommend cover-band shows, just because nostalgia works best in small doses. But since we're never going to see Johnny Thunders or the Spiders from Mars again, we might as well live vicariously through some fun, local throwbacks. BACKUP PLAN: The Loons, Schitzophonics, DJs Anja and Mikey Stax @ Til-Two Club.
Saturday, Dec. 20
PLAN A: Big Sandy and His Flyrite Boys, Sleepwalkers, The Jive Bombers @ The Casbah. Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys have been making rollicking rockabilly and good-time western swing for more than 25 years. Their sound wasn't even close to contemporary when they began, but somehow it feels timeless—there's something about the sound of standup bass and hollow-body honky-tonk guitar that just sounds extra-satisfying, every single time. PLAN B: Erik Canzona and the Narrows, Second Cousins, Gloomsday @ The Hideout. I'm a big fan of The Narrows , the debut album by The Heavy Guilt frontman Erik Canzona, so I'd like to recommend you have a listen before checking out his darkly soulful folk-rock songs in a live setting. Get there early to check out San Diego's hardest-rocking duo, Gloomsday. BACKUP PLAN: Subtropics, Shady Francos, The Cardielles @ Tower Bar.
Sunday, Dec. 21
PLAN A: Youth Code, High-Functioning Flesh, Centurion Wield, Severed Nites DJs @ Soda Bar. Los Angeles' Youth Code make dark, ominous music that you can dance to. They're an "industrial" band by old-school standards, which means they're more like a 20-year-old Trent Reznor than, well, a 40-year-old Trent Reznor, I guess. Either way, wrap yourself in black and get sinister with 'em. PLAN B: Dick Dale, The Midnight Pine @ Belly Up Tavern. Holiday music often sounds better when it involves some surf guitar. For instance, The Ventures' "Frosty the Snowman" is the definitive version. So, a holiday show by the King of the Surf Guitar seems like an extra-awesome way to get in the seasonal mood. BACKUP PLAN: The Burning of Rome, Barbarian, Low Volts @ SILO at Maker's Quarter.
Monday, Dec. 22
PLAN A: Idyll Wild, Boychick, Casanova Frankenstein @ The Casbah. Click here for my feature on Idyll Wild, a local group that's finishing up work on their debut EP. They combine math-rock, shoegaze and dream pop in a fluid but complex blend that needs to be heard live to be truly appreciated. BACKUP PLAN: The Growlers @ Belly Up Tavern.
Tuesday, Dec. 23
PLAN A: The Growlers @ Belly Up Tavern. Orange County outfit The Growlers founded a music festival called Beach Goth, which I suppose is what you are if you wear black in Southern California. That's not really what they sound like, though. Take equal parts garage rock, new wave and Mac DeMarco-style stoned jangle and you end up with their cool and catchy sound. BACKUP PLAN: Nebula Drag, Fantasy Arcade, Amigo @ Soda Bar.