10 Must-See Bands at the SD Music Thing

The San Diego Music Thing returns -- and with it, some incredible bands

Entering its 8th year, the San Diego Music Thing brings yet another impressive lineup to America’s Finest City on Sept. 12-13. When the annual two-day music and media conference takes over venues such as the North Park Theatre, the Casbah, Bar Pink, Soda Bar, the Whistle Stop and many others, you’ll have a primo chance to see performances by more than 150 up-and-coming acts along with a few notable heavy hitters. While whether to attend is never a question, the list of incredible artists scheduled to take the stage can be rather daunting -- so here’s a breakdown of your best bets. Who did we miss? Let us know in the comments.

  • Deap Vally: This female-fronted duo has been makin’ waves the world over with their raucous brand of blues rock. They have their fair share of admirers in town (including our own Tim Pyles), and we have a feeling that you’ll also be joining the club when they hit the Casbah on Friday.
  • Dengue Fever: Hailed by everyone from Metallica’s Kirk Hammett to the Kinks’ Ray Davies, this Los Angeles sextet blends ’60s Cambodian pop and psychedelic rock. If it sounds weird, you’re probably more familiar with their music than you think: They’ve been featured in everything from films such as “Broken Flowers” and “The Hangover 2” to TV shows like “Weeds,” “True Blood” and “CSI: Las Vegas.” They play Soda Bar on Friday.
  • Desert Noises: Packed with stomping drums and epic sing-along choruses, this quartet marries alt-country and folk-rock with an infectious furor. They headline the Honest Tea Stage behind the North Park Theatre on Saturday.
  • The Griswolds: This indie rock-pop quartet hails from Sydney, Australia, and their massive single, “Heart of a Lion,” put ’em on the worldwide map in 2012. They describe themselves as “tequila-inspired party pop” -- we just think they’re addictive, energetic and fun. They kick off 91x’s Next Big Thing Stage on Saturday.
  • GRMLN: You’d think this Orange County garage-pop-punk band would be named after the much-beloved 1984 movie of the same title, but you’d be wrong: Frontman Yoodoo Park came up with it while feeling isolated and alone in college. He better get used to the spotlight; the group’s recent “Soon Away” album is one of the best of 2014. Read our interview with Park before they play the Irenic on Saturday.
  • Liars: Evolving from one record to the next, this LA-based trio has gone from acerbic post-punk to weirdly experimental to masters of dense electronica. They headline the North Park Theatre on Friday.
  • Meg Myers: Fans of Fiona Apple or Cat Power, take note -- Myers’ visceral, sparse chamber rock results in lyrics like, “You make me wanna die/I gotta kill you, my love.” Don’t miss her at 91x’s Next Big Thing Stage on Saturday.
  • Mini Mansions: Fronted by Queens of the Stone Age bassist Michael Schuman, this trio puts out fuzzy garage-rock that slathers rich Beatles-esque melodies with poppy psychedelia. They play Bar Pink on Saturday.
  • Mystic Braves: A true throwback to flower power, LSD trips and paisley shirts, this ’60s-inspired band has built quite the loyal following in San Diego over the past couple years. Find out why at the Casbah on Friday.
  • Slow Magic: Looking for an anonymously masked musician who deals in smacking electro beats and hypnotic synths? Us too. The search comes to an end Saturday at Soda Bar.

For more information, including set times, full lineups and tickets, visit the official San Diego Music Thing website.

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

Contact Us