"Hey Jealousy" — One of the most unavoidable earworms of 1992
  • "Hey Jealousy" — One of the most unavoidable earworms of 1992
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Cults — Two chances to break out

Past Event


  • Friday, May 18, 2018, 7 p.m.
  • Soda Bar, 3615 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / $20

It’s worth noting that San Diego has developed an interlinked web of small to mid-size music venues that share promoters and book shows at each other’s rooms. Casbah Presents has a particularly fertile relationship with several other stages around town, frequently finding itself in the position of marketing shows on the same night at multiple venues. Not wanting to appear to play favorites, virtually all Casbah Presents shows receive equal play in event mailers and social media posts intended to promote these performances. This evenly leveled playing field, spread out across San Diego’s approximately 372 square miles, sees all featured bands getting the same kind of marquee promotion and push as the name-branded touring headliners.

The short-notice booking of Cults at Soda Bar on May 18 is a good example of how a locally bred band (in this case, now based in NYC) can take a smidgen of national press and attention and, given a local headline showcase, lay stake to their claim as the next most-likely-to-succeed San Diegans to be seen on much bigger stages, in far larger markets. Featuring Ryan Mattos, aka Brian Oblivion (who once fronted a Slayer cover band), and Madeline Follin (whose stepfather co-founded White Zombie), Cults released one of last year’s best albums with Offering, preceded by a single and video for “I Took Your Picture.” The video, directed by Elliott Sellers, was shot in Piermont, NY, where Cults recorded their first EP and the 2011 album Go Outside, with a finale filmed on top of Oblivion’s NYC rooftop. Soda Bar/Casbah Presents has so much faith in these nearly famous former neighbors that they’ll get two chances to prove they’re the breakout act of the year (at least so far), with sets at 7 and 10.

Gin Blossoms — Aging but unresigned

Past Event

Freedom Concert Featuring Gin Blossoms

  • Saturday, May 26, 2018, 7:30 p.m.
  • USS Midway Museum, 910 N. Harbor Drive, San Diego
  • $25 - $65

Having logged more than 30 years of history, it was probably inevitable that someday the Gin Blossoms would end up in a museum. The annual Freedom Concert, a military support benefit held May 26 on the flight deck of the USS Midway Museum, this year brings us the band behind “Hey Jealousy,” one of the most unavoidable earworms of 1992. Past Freedom Concerts on the Midway have featured somewhat less storied acts geared to please the same sort of baby boomer audience, including Lifehouse, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, and World Classic Rockers, with the latter having little more to offer than the least known members of Lynyrd Skynryd, Steppenwolf, Journey, Boston, and Santana. The Blossoms may be vintage, but they’re not exactly resigned to the same Highway Has-been as their predecessors on the outdoor flight deck. Sure, the last time they were in town (at the Belly Up in November), they were doing one of those 25th anniversary album re-creations (1992’s New Miserable Experience), but this time they’re arriving with a brand new full-length ready to debut, Mixed Reality, which drops around three weeks after they hit the deck. Why not be the first (and possibly, given most of their contemporary album sales, last) to hear the new tunes? Plus, no matter how the aging alt stars come off, you can go home feeling all warm and fuzzy about the concert proceeds going to agencies like Armed Services YMCA San Diego, STEP (Support the Enlisted Project), and SDMOM (San Diego Military Outreach Ministries).

Brian Setzer — Still strutting strong

Past Event

Brian Setzer's Rockabilly Riot

  • Saturday, June 2, 2018, 7 p.m.
  • Pala Casino, 35008 Pala Temecula Road, Pala

Once (and possibly future, given they just played their first North American show in ten years this week in Vegas) Stray Cats frontman Brian Setzer can be counted on to swing through town a couple of times per year, usually filling up the seats at Humphreys, the Belly Up, Del Mar, or Pechanga. The June 2 appearance of Setzer’s Rockabilly Riot marks his debut date at Pala Casino’s Starlight Theater, which was recently upgraded and enlarged to seat around 2,250 people, with a 40 by 60-foot stage, modern LED lighting, and a two-screen high-definition video display. Setzer will be backed by a crackerjack touring unit featuring drummer Noah Levy, pianist-guitarist Kevin McKendree, and bassist Mark Winchester, with a setlist promised to include Stray Cats hits, solo tracks, and concert faves honed to perfection over many years of touring with his Brian Setzer Otchestra, one of the few bands to have been on the road for nearly a decade of consecutive dates with nary an empty seat (well, other than when everyone jumps up to dance). The bill includes Miss Mary Ann & the Wranglers, one of the leading rockabilly groups to emerge from Rotterdam in the Netherlands, with over 20 years of stellar material to draw from.

Ugly God — Sweet lyrical skills

Past Event

Ugly God

  • Sunday, June 17, 2018, 7:30 p.m.
  • House of Blues, 1055 Fifth Avenue, San Diego

It’s about time that rising rap star and aspiring multimedia mogul Ugly God saw his name on marquees that matter, such as the one bridging the corporate logo-festooned façade of downtown’s House of Blues on June 17. Don’t be put off by the grammatically challenged name of his You Know What the Fuck Going On (YKWTFGO) Tour; Eminem long ago proved that one doesn’t need a scholastic grasp of the English language to lay claim as the voice of one’s generation, especially when that generation has already gleefully abandoned words and sentences for memes and emojis. Born Royce Davison, the 21-year-old songwriter and producer made his mark in 2016 with “Water,” the first single from his debut mixtape The Booty Tape, making it clear from the outset this his is a kind of Fat Albert & the Cosby Kids variation on hip-hop, with a sleeve sporting Saturday morning cartoon art that is now revisited with similar comic artwork promoting this newest tour. Although it sometime seems as if everything about his act — from his stage name (said to have been coined during a freestyle jam) to song titles like “Bernie Sanders” and “Booty Over Titties” — is meant to spoof the genre he hopes to infiltrate, his production and lyrical skills are far more developed than one would expect from someone barely old enough to walk through the front doors of many of the clubs now booking him.

Faust — Legendary prog innovators

Past Event


  • Sunday, July 29, 2018, 8 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / $22 - $26

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