Wednesday, April 1
PLAN A: Punch Brothers, Gabriel Kahane @ Observatory North Park. The progressive bluegrass beat is a little outside my wheelhouse, but Punch Brothers—which features Chris Thile of Nickel Creek—is some string-pluckin' I can get behind. Their acoustic bluegrass instruments combine densely in an almost shoegaze-like texture, which is pretty damn impressive. PLAN B: Viva Apollo, The Mondegreens, Whiskey Circle @ Soda Bar. Viva Apollo was one of the more than 100 bands we wrote about in this year's Great Demo Review, and one that we liked quite a bit, as a matter of fact. They've got bluesy rock 'n' roll chops and a vocalist with some powerful, soulful pipes. Be here if you want your Wednesday to rock that much harder.
Thursday, April 2
PLAN A: The Shrine, Dirty Fences, Loom @ The Casbah. Tired of seeing bands with no muscle? Need to hear some heavy, badass hard rock with plenty of dazzling fretwork? Then put on that shredded denim vest of yours and bring that shaggy mop on down to The Casbah to get bombarded with the sounds of three loud-as-hell bands that'll get you doing some sweet air guitar moves in no time. PLAN B: The Chop Tops, The Strikers, The Gore Horsemen @ Soda Bar. Santa Cruz's The Chop Tops are making one last stop in San Diego as part of a farewell tour. Now, I'm not necessarily the first to suggest psychobilly, but this is your last chance, folks. Grease up that pompadour and send them off good and proper.
Friday, April 3
PLAN A: Disappears, The Dabbers, Octagrape @ The Casbah. Chicago's Disappears have collaborated with Sonic Youth's Steve Shelley, which is one reason you might want to pay attention. The other is that their dark, shoegazing indie rock, as heard on new album Irreal, is some deliciously sinister stuff. They're arty and weird, but at the end of the day, their songs will take you somewhere. PLAN B: Bryan John Appleby @ The Loft @ UCSD. Bryan John Appleby isn't as well-known as Sufjan Stevens or Iron & Wine, but his string-laden folk sound is certainly strong enough that he could be. My brother introduced me to his album Fire on the Vine a few years ago, and I'm still haunted by his stark ballads. My bet is that after you get treated to his chilling serenades, you will be, too. BACKUP PLAN: The Donkeys, Buxton, Bitchiní Summer @ Soda Bar.
Saturday, April 4
PLAN A: His Name Is Alive, PRGRM, Bakkuda @ The Casbah. Warren Defever has been releasing eclectic pop records as His Name Is Alive for decades—pick up 1996's dreamy, fun Stars on ESP if you're looking for a good starting point. But no one album represents the versatile whole, so expect to hear a broad, wonderful spectrum of sounds. PLAN B: Sure Fire Soul Ensemble @ Seven Grand. Read my feature this week on Sure Fire Soul Ensemble, who are providing a soundtrack to San Diego that swirls together funk, soul and Afrobeat in a diverse and heavily grooving stew. Then go see the kind of rhythmic magic they can cook up onstage, and feel the funk flow through your limbs. BACKUP PLAN: New Mexico, Sleeping Ghost, Emerald Rats, The Slashes, DJ Clinebell Express @ Tower Bar.
Sunday, April 5
PLAN A: Vaud and the Villains @ Belly Up Tavern. Under ordinary circumstances, I almost certainly wouldn't suggest you drive to North County for an old-timey cabaret show with burlesque and tubas. But on an unusually dead Sunday night, maybe you'll need that kind of escape before the work week. See a silly show, have some beers and unwind. You could do much worse.
Monday, April 6
PLAN A: 22 Kings, Kristen Ford, Karina Frost @ The Merrow. It's amazing how quiet the week leading up to Coachella is. I can't imagine why that is—but it's alright, because local folk duo 22 Kings are here to save you from the monotony. Let them entertain you with some bluesy, soulful acoustic tunes.
Tuesday, April 7
PLAN A: Twinsmith, The Peripherals, Michael McGraw and the Butchers, Iguana Nights @ Soda Bar. In a perfect world, I'd be telling you to go see Drive Like Jehu tonight, but you can't. It's been sold out for weeks. So don't dwell on it—instead, go check out Omaha's Twinsmith, who craft perfect little nuggets of reverb-laden guitar pop. Sure, it's not quite the same, but you're still going to get a good show.