Free Week, the amazing Austin mini-fest that finds clubs throwing open their doors and Austinites streaming into the streets to discover new bands, kicked off last weekend, but the downtown free-for-all kicks into full gear this week. Kelly West talked to Graham Williams of Transmission Events who invented Free Week over a decade ago while working at Emo’s. She also caught some of the action during weekend one.
Free Week ramps up all week long, with a grand climax this weekend. Friday and Saturday boast an insane amount of quality local music with no cover, providing a fantastic opportunity to discover local bands.
If you go, remember the drill. Use that money you’re saving at the door to tip your bartenders (and the bands) and spend freely at the bands’ merch tables. Also, find and follow your new favorite bands on social media. Tag them on Instagram, shout them out on Facebook and Twitter and tell all your friends. Make plans to see them again and happily pay full cover. Participate in the Austin music scene and make "exposure" mean something.
Free Week picks
Empire Control Room gets in on the action, with more than a half-dozen bands performing inside and outside including Megafauna, Calliope Musicals and the Boxing Lesson. … The Mohawk’s multi-stage offerings include Boan, Black Taffy and Slugbug. … Sidewinder’s two stages features Split Seams, Boss Battle and more. … The Belmont takes on a Latin tinge with Son De Rey and Bidi Bidi Banda. … Solid no-cover options beyond downtown abound, including the Ephraim Owens Experience at the Continental Club, Carson McHone at C-Boy’s and Dickie Lee Erwin at the Skylark Lounge. — Peter Blackstock
Free every Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. in the oak garden at Guero’s is Sun Radio’s Texas Radio Live broadcast, which this week welcomes storied Texas songwriter Bobby Bridger and honky-tonkers Possum Posse. … The Mohawk goes hip-hop-heavy with Magna Carda anchoring on the outdoor stage and 10 more acts indoors including Crew 54 and Subkulture Patriots. The event is billed as a CD release for LNS Crew’s Tank Washington who has a new solo effort "Pain." … Vulcan Gas Company joins the Free Week chorus with a five-act bill including Henry & the Invisibles. … Scoot Inn adds to the east side’s free offerings with hard-edged bands Greenbeard, Transmit Method and Whiteman Dancing, while country and Americana sounds reign around the corner at the White Horse with Elsa Cross, the Merles and Thrift Set Orchestra. … One of the best free gigs in town week in and week out is Warren Hood’s 6:30 p.m. Wednesday show at ABGB, which also features a 9 p.m. set from Bryce Clifford & Brother Superior. — P.B.
Solid multi-band bills at the Mohawk include American Sharks outside and Bee Caves inside. … Additional action along Red River includes Ghost Bunny, Hooka Hey and more on Sidewinder’s two stages and Purple, OBN IIIs, Broken Gold and Hidden Ritual indoors at Stubb’s. … Rainey Street free shows include the Mrs. Glass residency at Blackheart and Dilia at Geraldine’s. … West-of-Congress options include the Bellfuries and DJ Chorizo Funk at the Belmont and Holiday Mountain and Technicolor Hearts at Lamberts. … Kick up dust at the White Horse with Leo Rondeau, Rosie & the Ramblers and Candler Wilkinson at White Horse. Head south for bluesman Paul Oscher’s happy-hour gig at C-Boy’s or a six-band bill at One-2-One Bar including I Am the Albatross and Coattails. — P.B.
Matthew Logan Vasquez at the Mohawk. In 2015, popular indie rock band Delta Spirit took a break and frontman Vasquez returned home to Austin with his wife in time for the birth of their first child. Late in the year he released the "Austin EP," a poignant collection of slowly unfolding poetic reflections and muscular stabs at psychedelic fuzz. His new full-length is due out later this year. The Nine Mile Records show also features Sweet Spirit, Sounds del Mar, A. Sinclair, Tinnarose, Lowin, Abram Shook, Ben Ballinger and Modrag. Free. 7 p.m. doors. 912 Red River St. mohawkaustin.com. –D.S.S.
More Free Week: Popular rockers Quiet Company and Calliope Musicals play Empire. … Darkwave outfit Knifight and electro crew GOBI play outside at Sidewinder while a very promising bill of dreamy electropop featuring Technicolor Hearts, Orthy and Stilleto Feels play inside. Flamingo Cantina hosts Barrio Bash VI with Los Callejeros de San Antonio, Kiko Villamizar and Afrofreque. … At LambertsShivery Shakes and Sour Notes play variations on indie pop. … Over at the Swan Dive the Blind Pets play with Wonderbitch and Wildcat Apollo and the party starts early at Fair Market’s Free For Y’all which presents Bird Peterson, Body Rock ATX, Toddy B and more in an all-day, all-night affair with visuals and performance art that kicks off at noon.
The Mohawk outside moves from shoe-gazey pop from Moving Panoramas and Ringo Deathstarr to psychedelic sounds from Christian Bland and the Revelators and the totally tripped out art jazz antics of Golden Dawn Arkestra. Indoors, the club features Indian Jewelry and Isaiah the Mosaic. … 101X presents a cross-genre power bill with Marmalakes, Riders Against The Storm, The Sour Notes, Ruby Jane, Hello Wheels and more at Empire. … Do512 presents The Watters, Modern Medicine and more at the Scoot Inn. … Ringo Deathstarr slides over to Sidewinder to close out a gig with Boyfrndz, Megafauna, My Education, Residual Kid and Think No Think. … Celebrate the release of Haydn Vitera’s new EP "Tequila Rock" at Stubb’s. … Free For Y’all features electro-dub outfit Holiday Moutain, Americana artist Shinyribs and Aaron Behrens’ Midnight Stroll at Fair Market. — D.S.S.
Riverboat Gamblers at Sidewinder. Because it wouldn’t be Free Week without a rowdy, beer-soaked throw down hosted by the Gamblers, Transmission tacked this sure to be packed showcase on as an epic closer. Sweet Talk, whose driving release "Double Perfect" was one of the year’s best garage rock albums, and Austin music lifers Midgetmen round out the bill. Free. Doors at 7 p.m. 715 Red River St. transmissionevents.com.
More Free Week: Get your fill of no-frills rock ‘n’ roll with Ex Hex and Flesh Lights at the Mohawk outside, The Dan Ryan and Black Balsam play inside. … Empire Control Room hosts a night of electronic music with Sub Culture, Retrograde and Trouble in the Streets.