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7 of San Diego's Weirdest Bands

We let our freak flag fly with our list of 7 of San Diego's Weirdest Bands

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Ryan Cowen
    Gary Wilson & the Blind Dates (seen here onstage at the Observatory North Park) head up our list of the weirdest bands in San Diego.

    Who doesn't love lettin' their freak flag fly once in a while? If you're in one the following San Diego bands, "once in a while" is an all-the-time kind of thing. Don't get us wrong: We love "normal" music -- bands or artists that write and perform music that fits into a pretty standard musical form. But now and then, we like to let our hair down and enjoy the offerings of those that would rather travel off the beaten path, so to speak. With that in mind, here are seven of San Diego's weirdest bands. If we missed your favorite, please let us know in the comments!

    • Botanica Chango: We've got a thing for Botanica Chango. They headlined our latest SoundDiego LIVE party at the Casbah in January, and with good reason: They're fun, they're wacky, they cram every genre known to man into impossible catchy tunes -- and they wouldn't have it any other way. Listen/buy their debut album, "Britney," here

    • Digital Lizards of Doom: The name kind of says it all, right? The Lizard king himself, Gabriel Valentin, conjures up electro/prog-rock that plays out in a sci-fi universe, set to comic book themes and video game imagery. Basically, it sounds like the audio equivalent of this: Mario grew up, got bit by a radioactive turtle, obsessed over Queen (the band) while playing Magic the Gathering -- and then opened up a discotheque that only played Daft Punk covers created by nerdy electronic engineers. Dig it?
    • Mystery Cave: Helmed by one John Christopher Harris, Mystery Cave is the sound of bleep-bloop electro -- if his computers, drum machines and synthesizers were all on acid. They're trying to keep it together but more often than not, it sounds like a virus is eating away at those ones and zeros while they're materializing. Pick up his debut album, "Ausarian Comforts," on vinyl here.

    • Riververb: OK, where do we even start? Fronted by main guy (and sometimes only guy) Frank Melendez (who actually co-founded Sprung Monkey in '89), Riververb is the sound of a 20-gallon oil drum, homemade instruments, gnarly feedback, and Melendez bellowing into a microphone-enabled, antler-laden helmet, among others. It's raw. It's visceral. And it's unlike anything you've ever seen before.

    • Subtropics: Self-described as "Zoo Wave," Subtropics seem to follow in the footsteps of now-defunct San Diego bands like Kill Me Tomorrow and The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower by combining a flair for dark artistry and post-punk psych/surf-pop. It's the ungodly meeting of Bauhaus and the Beach Boys with some Stooges-era Iggy Pop thrown in for good measure -- in other words, it's really, really good. And weird. Listen/buy their debut EP, "Warehouse Sessions - Live," here

    • Wild Wild Wets: The Wets have been doing the whole psychedelic garage-rock thing longer than most on the scene now, and they do it better than most as well (head to one of their San Diego Freak Out-curated shows for evidence of that) -- but there's something about the band's experimental effects they pile on their tunes (most notably, lead singer Mike Turi's vocals): They get spacey, drone-y and trippy in all the right places and there's nothin' not to love about that. Listen/buy their most recent album, "14th Floor," on vinyl here

    • Gary Wilson & the Blind Dates: This list would be a sham if Gary Wilson wasn't included. Dude's basically an icon in the experimental music scene, having inspired a cult following among fans and colleagues alike (Electric Six, Beck, Ariel Pink and fellow listers Botanica Chango are all devoted fans, for example). New Wave, soul, post-punk, funk, lounge jazz -- the guy's done it all. He's made a strange, illustrious career out of combining a series of things that typically have no right being combined. He's a legend; a weird, weird legend.

    Botanica Chango Video Premiere: 'BB & the Beat'

    Botanica Chango Video Premiere: 'BB & the Beat'
    Shot by SoundDiego videographer Blake Raynor, Botanica Chango's new dream pop video for "BB & the Beat" follows a four-legged friend on a hallucinogenic journey with none other than Gary Wilson and Lady Dottie. (Published Friday, June 12, 2015)

    Here are a few other lists we’ve put together.

     

    Dustin Lothspeich plays in Old Tiger, Diamond Lakes and Boy King. Follow his updates on Twitter or contact him directly.