(For websites listed below, MS=www.myspace.com. These are bands we especially dig, not full listings. For those, please click on Concerts and Clubs.
PLAN A: Nas @ 4th & B. One of the true heirs to Biggie's crown of East Coast hip-hop, Nas has never quite hit the ultimate high of his debut, Illmatic. He's cocky, self-righteous and soap-boxy, but he has a right to be. One of the best lyricists and vocalists in hip-hop. (And c'mon, Jay-Z, swing down south and do the kissed-and-made-up cameo). www.defjam.com. PLAN B: Tool @ Cox Arena. Plan A for rock fans. Their mythology firmly established, hard-rock's moody, prog-loving weirdos put on a lights-and-video extravaganza every show. Maynard James Keenan likes it in the shadows. Sunglasses acceptable. MS/tool. PLAN C: Sloan, The 88 @ House of Blues. One of Canada's most frustrating acts (brilliant at times, bad at others) plays with always-entertaining Kinks-like band, The 88. MS/sloan, MS/the88. BACKUP PLAN: Elf Power, Birds of Avalon @ The Casbah (MS/elfpowerband, MS/birdsofavalon).
PLAN A: Erin McKeown @ The Casbah. McKeown's a real talent-a Virginia musician who studied ethnomusicology, which would make David Byrne proud. You can hear it in the multi-instrumentalist's music-old-timey, swinging folk that's as captivating as Andrew Bird. MS/erinmckeown. PLAN B: What Made Milwaukee Famous @ House of Blues Side Stage. Named after the Jerry Lee Lewis song, this piano-and-guitars indie-rock band from Austin was one of the few unsigned bands ever invited to play the famed TV show Austin City Limits, for good reason (and with Franz Ferdinand, no less). MS/whatmademilwaukeefamous. PLAN C: Sayvinyl, The SoftLightes, Juan Peso @ the Belly Up. A trio of solid San Diego bands, including Sayvinyl (the new project by former Operatic frontman Jesse Fritsch) and Ron Fountenberry's indie-pop bliss-out, The SoftLightes. MS/sayvinyl, MS/thesoftlightes, MS/juanpeso. BACKUP PLAN: Superunloader @ Winston's (www.superunloader.com).
PLAN A: Yonder Mountain String Band @ House of Blues. One of the best young progressive bluegrass bands in America. Playing mandolins and banjos, often at rock 'n' roll speeds, the Colorado band is ripe for both Grateful Dead and Nickel Creek mourners. (Plus, they were originally named The Bluegrassholes). MS/yondermountainstringband. PLAN B: Poison the Well, Fear Before the March of Flames, Portugal. The Man, Heavy Heavy Low Low @ Soma. Probably the best metal show in town this week, with not-so-metal but good supporting act Portugal. The Man. Expect Miami's Poison the Well to play their version of Smashing Pumpkins' "Soma." MS/poisonthewell, MS/mar chofflames, MS/portugalthe man, MS/heavyheavylowlow. PLAN C: Drop Trio, Seesaw Ensemble @ Scolari's Office. Two good San Diego jazz outfits at the old man's punk dive, Scolari's Office? I can live with that. MS/droptrio, MS/seesawensemble. BACKUP PLAN: The Bellrays @ House of Blues (MS/thebellrays).
PLAN A: "Latin Trumpet Summit" @ Dizzy's. It's Cinco de Mayo. Get out of your routine and see something Latin in honor of the Mexicans giving the Frenchies the boot. For this show, San Diego's jazz icon Gilbert Castellanos leads a cast of his fellow trumpeters through some Latin classics and originals. www.gilbertcastellanos.com. PLAN B: "Baja Metal Fest" @ The Jumping Turtle. For a more life-threatening Mexican experience, eight metal bands from south of the border put on a group pummeling, with free taco buffet included. www.thejumpingtur tle.com. PLAN C: Fifty On Their Heels, The Muslims, The Sundelles, The New Motherfuckers @ Che Café. Three of San Diego's top bands-throwback punks Fifty On Their Heels, VU-esque rockers The Muslims and reverb '60s outfit The Sundelles-join with impressive L.A. punks The New Motherfuckers. MS/fiftyontheir heels, MS/themuslims, MS/the sundellesmusic, MS/newmother fuckers.
PLAN A: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Fratellis @ House of Blues. L.A.'s Jesus and Mary Chain-loving down-rockers B.R.M.C. haven't yet capitalized on their talent, but they have the ability to wear leather and sing about Jesus as if they met him in a crack house almost as well as Lou Reed did. Buzzy Glasgow pop tarts The Fratellis open up. MS/blackrebelmotorcycleclub, MS/littlebabyfratelli. PLAN B: Minus the Bear @ the Belly Up. Though they've tried to shake their jokester reputation during the last few years, Seattle's Minus the Bear are still one of the most underrated indie-pop bands, with songs about monkeys knife-fighting and how they party on yachts. MS/minusthebear. PLAN C: Vienna Teng, Ramon and Jessica, Jenny Owen Youngs @ Acoustic Music San Diego. Actually, this is a good female folk show that's not worth the price point ($25). They really need to do something about that at AMSD-a fantastic venue that's often the highest priced ticket on artists' tours. But if cash is burning holes in your pockets, solid stuff all through-especially Jenny Owen Youngs. MS/vien nateng, MS/ramonandjessica, MS/jennyowenyoungs.
PLAN A: Kite Flying Society, Finches, Bushes @ The Casbah. Something for those of you who really miss the 1960s folk movement. San Diego's bliss-pop maestros Kite Flying Society combine with the folky, female-led San Francisco band Finches. The opener's a real wild card-two white dudes rapping off-key, entertaining bullshit that sounds like a super, super lo-fi Beck messing around in his basement. MS/kfsmusic, MS/thefinches, MS/thebushes. PLAN B: Aqualung @ House of Blues. Just gorgeous music for those of you who love Coldplay or Rufus Wainwright. The main architect is Matthew Hales. His song "Brighter than Sunshine"-which hit top 10 in the U.K.-is just flat-out pretty. MS/aqualung.
PLAN A: Bright Eyes, Oakley Hall @ Soma. Oklahoma's emo-folk wunderkind is almost unstoppable now. Fans wondered if Conor Oberst could match 2000's fantastically raw Fevers & Mirrors. And he answered them with four strong releases in a row, including the newest, Cassadaga. Openers Oakley Hall are the sleeper of the week-a New York folk band that, with a little name recognition, could easily co-headline this show and not disappoint. MS/brighteyes, MS/oakleyhall. PLAN B: Paula Fuga @ Winston's. This lady's fantastic. The Hawaiian multi-instrumentalist and singer recently got Jack Johnson's attention-he collaborated with her on a few songs and brought her along for shows. One of the more soulful, island-vibe musicians around. MS/paulafuga. PLAN C: The Cat Empire @ the Belly Up. At times, they seem like a bunch of instrumental virtuoso-dorks. At other times, they seem like the best jam-jazz-rock-folk bands to come out of Australia in years. MS/thecatempire. BACKUP PLAN: Kristin Hersh, The McCarricks @ The Casbah (MS/kristinhersh, MS/themccar ricksmusic).