10 of San Diego’s Top Summer Party Bands

Throwing a summer party and need a band? We highlight 10 of San Diego's best

Big Bloom Press Photo 2
Photo by Dustin Glibert

Who doesn’t love a good party? While some folks are a bit more awkward at parties than others (cough, me, cough), a little live music always seems to get the good times rolling more often than not. Where there’s bands a-playin’, there’s fun to be had. When thinking about acts that’d be perfect for a summer party, there were a few that jumped out as obvious suspects (the Creepy Creeps, the Verigolds, the Schizophonics, etc.) since they seem to be San Diego's go-tos for sunny weekend good times (see nearly every outdoor San Diego fest lineup). But you know what? There’s plenty of great groups ready to take your party from “meh” to “magical” if you think outside the box. Know a killer band that always ups your party game? Let me know in the comments. [Bands listed alphabetically]

Astral Touch: Want to be the coolest kid on the block with the freshest party? Whatever slang the kids are rockin' these days, your electro needs are signed, sealed and delivered by Astral Touch -- a one-man band (Nathan Leutzinger) of wicked riffs, laptop beats and tasty remixes (and he sometimes wears a mean headband too). Do yourself a favor and check out his tunes here.

Behind the Wagon: When your kegger's got more whiskey flowing than beer, you'll need an equally reckless band to throw shots back with. And that band, folks, is Behind the Wagon. These rabble-rousers play the perfect brand of punkified country that'll have your guests streaking through the quad in no time.


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Big Bloom: Fresh off some love from Paste Magazine for their new video, “Heavy Angel,” Katie Howard and Co. dish out indie-rock that becomes the perfect soundtrack to epic all-night benders. They may not cause the hookups, hangovers or drunk ex texting, but they’ll sure as hell sound good while it’s happening. [Listen/buy their new album here]

Dani Bell & the Tarantist: Sometimes chill-out music takes different forms but in the case of Redwoods Music duo Dani Bell & the Tarantist, it appears as two “Eyes Wide Shut”-esque masked musicians (Dani Bell and Alfred Howard), homemade percussion trinkets, and old-school ghetto blasters. The music is criminally smooth, beautiful, eerie and just plain cool -- all at the same time. [Listen/buy their “Dark West” record here]

The Donkeys: You knew this was coming. Is there a better party band in town than San Diego's beloved Donkeys? For my money -- and my house party -- I'd have these blue-eyed soul/rock/pop kings on speed dial. Mainly because every song of theirs sounds like a late-'60s, early-'70s AM radio hit you grew up sweating along with in the back of your parents station wagon, even though they're not. Are they the pinnacle of good times? You tell me: They play SoundDiego Summer Splash on Aug. 20 at Harrah's SoCal. Get info here.

G Burns Jug Band: Maybe your party could use an old-timey feel or you just got a thing for suspenders, banjos and washboards -- but either way, plug in this ragtime-lovin' troupe (that's a joke cuz they don't need to be plugged in, bonus!) and let 'em go to town. Anyone not kickin' up some dust by the end of the night might just be dead inside. Weed the zombies outta your friends and give this group a call. [Listen/buy their latest album here]

Juice Box: Sometimes parties are of the more laidback variety than all-night ragers, and for those, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better band to bring the non-ruckus than Juice Box. They specialize in smooth, complex jazz/soul that brings just the right amount of edge to the table, but fun enough to put a little pep in your strut and a cocktail in both of your hands. [Pick up their new album "Vol. 2" here]

Los Shadows: If you like your surf-pop with a dash of ‘80s New Wave style and a sprinkle of punk attitude, you’ll do no better than these Chuck Records boys from Chula Vista. They're young, they're spry and they'll kick your fancy cowabunga party right into the sewer. [Check out the video for their infectious single, “Chugger,” here]

Monarch: Long hair, don't care. Similar to their San Diego brethren Joy and Earthless, Monarch kick out the bongwater-rock jams that'll shake your backyard halfpipe right off its foundation. Do yourself a favor and pick up the band's excellent new album ("Two Isles") of '60s-influenced psychedelia, and then book 'em for guaranteed good times.

The Tommy Mitchell Show: Who doesn't dig a little soul/funk/jam rock & roll when they're kickin' back under the sun with the crew and a brew? These dudes, who've made a name for themselves around town with their lively shows (usually at the Belly Up), are led by their namesake frontman -- an unusually cool cucumber on the mic/guitar -- and their ivory-tickler extraordinaire, Jody Bagley on organ/keys. You bring the gig, they'll bring the show. [Check out their tunes here]

Dustin Lothspeich books The Merrow; plays in Diamond Lakes and Boy King; and runs the music-equipment-worshipping blog Gear and Loathing in San Diego. Follow his updates on Twitter or contact him directly.

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