(For websites listed below, MS=www.myspace.com. These are bands we especially dig, not full listings.
For those, please see Concerts and Clubs.
PLAN A: Stephen Jr. Gong Marley, K'Naan @ House of Blues. His brother Damian's album, Welcome to Jamrock, was a bigger success, but Bob Marley's second son (who wrote, produced and sung a big portion of Jamrock) doesn't tarnish the family name with Mind Control, his rock-solid debut. It's more world-music with hip-hop beats than pure reggae, and it's good. Toronto's K'naan grew up in war-torn Somalia, and hope-amid-violence marks his inspired music-part rap, part African music, part folk, part everything. MS/stephenmarley, MS/knaanmusic. PLAN B: MC Lars @ Epicentre. The white rapper dude and Stanford grad is just plain entertaining. Some write him off as novelty, but "Hot Topic is Not Punk Rock" is good "nerdcore hip-hop" fun. MS/mclars. PLAN C: Match'd Frantic, Plain Jane, Miki Vale @ Kava Lounge. Solid hip-hop show with L.A.'s male-female duo Match'd Frantic and two of San Diego's top female MCs, Plain Jane and Miki Vale. MS/matchdfrantic, MS/emceeplainjane, MS/mikivale. BACKUP PLAN: The Stranger's Six @ Beauty Bar (MS/thestrangerssix).
PLAN A: Arcade Fire @ Spreckels. Indie nation's been wetting itself over this one for months. Tix for the sold-out show are going for as much as $100 on craigslist. MS/arcadefireofficial. PLAN A2: The Rapture @ Beauty Bar. Rare small-venue show by former San Diegans-turned-NYC dance-punk icons. The free tickets are hard to find, but a few remain. Do some digging. MS/therapture. PLAN B: A Touch of Class @ Modus Lounge. NYC's electronica production duo is among the best-touring in support of its album Still Sucks, with remixes of Le Tigre, The Gossip, Erasure, Scissor Sisters, etc. MS/atocrecords. PLAN C: Mute Math, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin @ House of Blues. Worth a look. N'Awlins' Mute Math has a huge, arena-ready rock sound that's a bit like Sting fronting U2. A touch cloying but could possibly be big. Boris is a cute, Weezer-ish pop band from Missouri. MS/mutemath, MS/boris. BACKUP PLAN: Woolly Bandits, The Love Me Nots, Thee Corsairs @ The Kensington Club (MS/woollybandits, MS/luvmenots, MS/theecorsairs).
PLAN A: Blonde Redhead, Annuals @ the Belly Up. NYC's no-wave successors to Sonic Youth are polarizing-their strident guitars and Kazu Makino's shrill, piercing little-girl vocals are their appeal, love it or hate it (we're all about the love). North Carolina's Annuals are slowly developing a cult following for good reason-a six-piece that alternates between sleepy folk and slaphappy keyboard-pop. MS/blonderedhead, MS/annuals. PLAN B: Cypher 8-Year Anniversary @ Arts and Entertainment Center (3026 University Ave.). The first of a two-night party to celebrate one of San Diego's top local hip-hop events closing in on a decade of dope. Performers include Jeshno, Opoetik, MarkMyWords, The Imperfectionsists, Generik The Human Beat Box. MS/jeshno, MS/opoetik, MS/markmywords theunderachiever. PLAN C: Transfer, Sleeping People, The Holy Rolling Empire, Patrol @ The Casbah. Two solid out-of-town bands join two of San Diego's finest-the soaring, My Morning Jacket-like rockers Transfer and instrumental mind-blowers Sleeping People. MS/transfer band, MS/sleepingpeople, MS/theholy rollingempire, MS/patrol. BACKUP PLAN: Diskonto, Caoccion @ Che Café (MS/disk onto, MS/coaccion).
PLAN A: Swim Party, Kite Flying Society, Secret Apollo @ The Kensington Club. Three of San Diego's best. Swim Party's quirky, delicate pop is simply fantastic. Kite Flying Society is hit-or-miss live, but on record it's harmony-pop bliss. Secret Apollo is a nerdy, nervous and utterly entertaining boy-girl pop-rock band. MS/swimparty, MS/kfsmusic, MS/secretapollo. PLAN B: Vinyl Radio, Dynamite Walls, Illinois @ The Casbah. Two more from San Diego's top-shelf-the punchy, Strokes-ish Vinyl Radio and mainstream radio-ready Dynamite Walls-join with Pennsylvania's space-pop band, Illinois. MS/vinyl radio, MS/thesedynamitewalls, MS/illinois. PLAN C: The Palominos, Danny Dean and the Homewreckers @ The Zombie Lounge. San Diego's old-school western swing band, The Palominos, partner with Lakewood's good-time rockabilly, Danny Dean. MS/palominosband, MS/dan nydeanandthehomewreckers. BACKUP PLAN: The Vacation, Rock N Roll Soldiers @ The Jumping Turtle (MS/thevaca tion, MS/rocknrollsoldiers).
PLAN A: Mono & World's End Girlfriend @ The Casbah. If you couldn't nab tix for Explosions in the Sky (see our feature story on this page), consider this a good consolation prize. Japan's sprawling post-rock band records its albums close to live, so if you dig the albums (which many, many people do), you'll dig the live show. MS/monojapan. PLAN B: Regina Spektor @ House of Blues . Honest, I can't get into this gal-like a musical-theater major pepping up Ani DiFranco tunes. But if you're a fan of Imogen Heap, most live reviews rave about her in-person chops and charm. MS/reginaspek tor. PLAN C: Bill Magee @ Humphrey's. One of San Diego's top bluesmen, the Mississippi-raised Magee has a lighter, airier instrumental approach and a scratchy-throated, soulful wail. MS/billmageeblues.
PLAN A: Ghostface Killah @ the Belly Up. One of Wu-Tang Clan's greatest break-off-success stories, Ghostface's 2006 album Fishscale was fantastic. Mixing hard beats, disco flourishes and his still-awesome, fresh-faced vocal delivery, dude is just as relevant today as he was at the time of The W. MS/ghost face. PLAN B: Arckid @ The Casbah. Yes! The boys from Spacehog are back! They were the Bowie idolaters who hit big on radio in the '90s with "In the Meantime." Now the Langdon brothers come in the shape of a glammy, campy rock project called Arckid. MS/arckid.
PLAN A: Damien Rice @ Open Air Theatre. He is to David Grey what Radiohead is to Coldplay. Not as radio-friendly but three times as inventive, this Irish folkie sold out the original venue, Spreckels Theatre, so they moved it to a bigger venue. With a good portion of his songs performed at a hush, would've been better at Spreckels. Still, a great artist. MS/damienrice. PLAN B: Jackie Greene, Dusty Rhodes & The River Band @ the Belly Up. San Francisco's Jackie Greene is a nice folk-rocker-easily digestible, a good sense of soul and a streetwise, G. Love vibe. But Dusty Rhodes should steal the show-a six-piece folk-rock thing from Anaheim with organs, violins, banjo, etc. that's part Gram Parsons, part Of Montreal. One of SoCal's best new bands. MS/jackiegreene, MS/dustyrhodes.