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Wednesday, Sep 12, 2012

A guide to San Diego Music Thing

From Chuck D to Pinback, the speakers and acts to see at the two-day fest

By Peter Holslin
smoking2 Father John Misty

Is San Diego Music Thing on its way to becoming San Diego’s version of South by Southwest? Methinks that might be the case. This year, the two-day music festival and conference features a couple of iconic keynote speakers—including MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer— and a bunch of national touring bands. Check out this handy guide to figure out your itinerary.

Friday, Sept. 14

Lion Cut: Taking their name from an adorable hairstyle for kitties (seriously, Google it), local electro-popsters Lion Cut combine dance-ready beats with whimsical outfits reminiscent of Cats. Grumpy old wallflowers need not show up for this one. (Whistle Stop Bar, 9:25 p.m.)

Pokey LaFarge and The South City Three: The latest band to emerge from the recent old-timey craze, these St. Louis musicians play buoyant, buttoned-up Americana tunes that could’ve come from the Anthology of American Folk Music, only there’s no vinyl crackle. (U-31, 10:35 p.m.)

Manuok: Remember that scene from the comedy series Party Down, in which a widow compares love to a crockpot? Local indie-rockers Manuok (whose new album, Traps, comes out Sept. 15) aren’t anything flashy, but their measured songcraft keeps cooking day in and day out, and they’ll never fade. (Tin Can Ale House, 11 p.m.)

Alejandro Escovedo: A member of the esteemed Escovedo musical family, Austin songwriter Alejandro Escovedo has earned a spot in the roots-rock canon for balancing scorching guitar licks with expressive strings. Even when he’s just strumming an acoustic guitar, he’s got passion. (Sunset Temple, 11:30 p.m.)

Nite Jewel: Don’t be put off by the bizarre, Matthew Barney-style aesthetics of the video for her song “One Second of Love”—Nite Jewel’s ’80s-style, R&B-tinged synth-pop is fun for the whole family. Especially if your family’s a bunch of hipsters who love Kate Bush. (Soda Bar, 12:40 a.m.)

Saturday, Sept. 15

Chuck D: He’s a member of the influential hip-hop group Public Enemy, co-author of the book Fight the Power: Rap, Race and Reality and a regular lecturer on these topics. But you already knew that, right? Whatever the case, this talk is worth checking out. (Lafayette Hotel, 5:15 p.m.)

Parker & The Numberman: One of the city’s most indefatigable hip-hop groups, these guys put on a stirring show no matter what comes their way. DJ Collagey might pull a beat out of nowhere, and MCs Parker and The Numberman will rap over it with panache. (The Office, 8 p.m.)

Coda Reactor: No local band does straight-up rock ’n’ roll better than Coda Reactor. Their badass debut, Parasite, is required listening for any alienated teenage boy, and their live show is full of theatrical flair. I guess I should crack a joke about cranking amps to 11, right? (Queen Bee’s, 9:15 p.m.)

Pinback: After five years of sating fans with stopover solo records, limited-edition Record Store Day 7-inches and weird Rob Crow sideprojects, Pinback will drop a new album, Information Retrieved, on Oct. 16. Here’s hoping they play bracing album cuts “Proceed to Memory” and “True North.” (Sunset Temple, 11 p.m.) 

Father John Misty: It’s no wonder why Father John Misty main man J. Tillman quit drumming for Fleet Foxes to focus on going solo: This guy’s way too charismatic to be stuck behind the kit. His new album, Fear Fun, is a little bit country, a little bit swanky and a whole lotta gorgeous. Try it with a glass of bourbon and a bolo tie. (The Casbah, 12:30 a.m.)

Email or follow him on Twitter at @peterholslin.