It’s that time of year again. There’s just something about San Diego -- maybe it has to do with the weather; maybe it has to do with our city's sunny disposition; but maybe, just maybe, it has everything to do with music.
Now in its 10th year, Nov. 11-12 marks the return of the annual San Diego Music Thing with a parade of bands and industry-related conference panels. However, this year’s Thing is a little different: In the past, the SDMT routinely spanned three days (with Thursdays serving mostly as a day of panels and a kickoff party) and incorporated upward of 10-15 venues and more than 100 artists, 2016’s iteration is quite a bit leaner in scope. Focusing on smaller neighborhood venues, the event is now two days long (Friday and Saturday), features half the number of bands, and panels will take place at the recently opened ChuckAlek Biergarten in North Park, instead of inside the generic, beige-toned conference rooms of a Mission Valley hotel (that's a good call right there).
While a far cry from the Things of years past, sometimes less is more. In SDMT’s case, trimming the fat and making it more focused might actually benefit the long-running music fest. A few prior Things were so massive, it was hard to navigate the literal sprawl. The San Diego Music Foundation, which organizes the yearly event (and recently scrapped this year's San Diego Music Awards), has concentrated its efforts in North Park for these festivities -- tapping Bar Pink, the Office, U31, the Irenic, the Merrow (full disclosure, the club I book), the Casbah and Music Box as venues.
More importantly, marquee acts set to touch down on this year's fest include Touche Amore, Geographer, Kim & the Created, The Dead Ships, Concrete Blonde's Johnette Napolitano, Carseat Headrest, White Fang, Har Mar Superstar, and Health (among others).
Of course, that’s only a few of the more than 45 performing bands. As they do every year, organizers have filled out the various shows with locals galore. San Diegans tapped to play include Little Hurricane, Rob Crow's Gloomy Place, Wild Wild Wets (SoundDiego Halloween faves), SoundDiego Record Club inductees Hexa and Glass Spells, Bit Maps, the Bassics, Bang Pow (who partied with us recently), the criminally unsigned Taken by Canadians, and more.
The conference panels -- which run from 3-6 p.m. on Nov. 11 and from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Nov. 12 -- span music industry topics such as Social Media/PR, Labels, Booking, Touring, Recording, and Local Media so if you’re a musician looking to further your career, they’ll provide invaluable information and are great Q&A sessions (and networking opportunities) with individuals who know what they're talking about. If you’re strictly a music fan though and don’t exactly dream of rocking stages across the world, the panels are still fascinating -- offering a glimpse inside the inner workings of an always-changing industry.
Either way, San Diegans now have a myriad of reasons to head out n' about for live music on Nov. 11-12. Single-show tickets and all-day wristbands are available and prices range from $10 to $50.
Heads up for ticket buyers: According to the SDMT website, “Tickets must be redeemed for event wristband at SDMT registration 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Nov. 10-12 at Art Produce Gallery (3139 University Ave.).” Note that single event tickets do not need to be redeemed for wristbands, only the multi-day passes (which admit entrance to every SDMT event). Visit the site for more information and tickets.
Dustin Lothspeich is a SoundDiego Associate Editor, books The Merrow, plays in Diamond Lakes, and runs the music-equipment-worshipping blog Gear and Loathing in San Diego. Follow his updates on Twitter or contact him directly.