Find your new favorite local band at Free Week 2014
Editor’s note: This article was originally published December 31, 2013
Free Week 2014 rumbles to a start tomorrow as the better part of the city blearily trudges onward in the aftermath of 2013 blowout festivities, then really kicks into gear next week. The event, which finds clubs around town dropping cover charges and throwing open their doors, was conceptualized by Transmission Entertainment co-founder Graham Williams when he was the booker for Emo’s back when the club was downtown. The idea was to generate business for the club during one of the slowest weeks of the year while showcasing local bands.
A decade later Free Week has exploded into a mini-South by Southwest with venues as far flung as the campus-area Spiderhouse Ballroom and far eastside haunt the Sahara joining more than a dozen downtown clubs for 11 days of free shows. This year also finds a handful of bands from around the state hopping on bills loaded with predominantly Austin acts.
It’s worth noting that many bands playing Free Week are paid for their performances, either through a cut of bar sales or sponsorship deals. Some bands choose to play for free for exposure and the opportunity to play on bills and stages where they otherwise might not be booked. Others play for free to support the clubs during the brutally difficult months between the end of heavy tour season and SXSW, when many venues struggle to stay out of the red.
Regardless, if you hear a Free Week band that blows your mind, drop by their merch table and pick up some gear. Also, perhaps more importantly, sign up for the band’s email list. Like them on Facebook. Follow them on Twitter. Hashtag them on Instagram. Tell your friends.
Sometimes it seems like Austin is more in love with the idea of being “The Live Music Capital” than the music itself. Free Week offers an excellent opportunity for all of us to engage directly with the artists who put their hearts and hands on the line to define our city’s vibe. So go out and find your new favorite band.
The Lorax (Melvins cover band), Tia Carrera at Holy Mountain. What better way to shake off that New Year’s Eve hangover than with ’90s sludge metal covers and richly textured, heavy instrumentals from elder statesmen of Austin’s hard rock scene? Hair of the dog indeed. Woodgrain and White Powder open.
Royal Forest at the Belmont. Though this Austin four-piece draws its roots from the plaintive songwriting tradition of Americana, their songs are ornamented with electronic flourishes, cloaked in layers of harmonic fuzz. The beauty comes from the forest, not just the trees. With Ferguson and Reservations.
Bagheera at the Parish. Houston DJ/producer Aidan Kennedy pumps out a stylish mix of chill wave and Euro club sounds. His debut release was put out by Parisian house music label Plik & Plok records. With Boombaptist, Most Jeffinately, more.
What Made Milwaukee Famous, Hard Proof, Residual Kid at the Mohawk. Indie pop outfit What Made Milwaukee Famous kicked off 2013 by releasing their first album in almost five years “You Can’t Fall Off the Floor,” an ambitious platter that folded hat tips to honky tonk and sludgey rock into a broad collection of well-structured pop songs that made many local critics’ best of 2013 lists. Hard Proof serves up Fela Kuti-inspired afrobeat jams. Good Field opens on the outside stage. Meanwhile, on the inside stage local punk rock wunderkinds Residual Kid hold things down alongside Spirtual Wives, Casual Strangers and the Harms.
Rubberneck Issue 8 Release at Beerland. The scene zine which celebrated two years covering Austin music last July throws a raucous bash to commemorate its new issue. Frenetic rockers the OBN IIIs headline a bill that also includes Gino & The Goons, Pharaohs, and Brain Attack.
Also playing. Roxy Roca at the Blackheart; Whiskey Shivers, Borrisokane at Empire Garage and Control Room; Hundred Visions, Bobby Jealousy at Hotel Vegas; Holiday Mountain, Truck Month (Mother Falcon) at Spiderhouse Ballroom; Hello Wheels, Possessed by Paul James at Stubb’s; Shmu CD release at the Scoot Inn.
American Sharks at Hotel Vegas.A night of face-melting hard rock. The Sharks blew minds (and probably a few speakers) when their blistering eponymous debut dropped in 2013. Show up early as we predict a sweaty, shoulder-to-shoulder scene.
Fo’ Free III: Presented by Foxing Quarterly and The Navigational Society at Empire Control Room and Garage. Upping the ante for Austin entertainment, the new Red River district hot spot plans a blowout bash with music on three stages all night long. Local faves Marmalakes, Roger Sellers and Hello Wheels are among the host of bands scheduled to play.
Ashes of Babylon CD release at Flamingo Cantina. TheseLake Charles ex-pats describe their music as “Lousiana Reggae,” incorporating elements of r&b, hip-hop and funk into a traditional roots reggae sound. The eight-piece group fleshes out the one-drop rhythms with tight vocal harmonies and blasts of brass creating full, feel-good grooves.
Also playing. Ringo Deathstarr, Boxing Lesson at the Belmont; Spray Paint, Ghetto Ghouls, more at Beerland; Cartwright, Living Grateful, boyfynds at the Mohawk; Horse + Donkey at the North Door; Pack of Wolves at Red 7; Pinata Protest, The Young, Como Las Movies at Stubb’s; Utopiafest showcase at the Swan Dive.
Berkshire Hounds at Holy Mountain. The Hounds are placed mid-tier of the lineup for this night, but Holy Mountain general manager and talent buyer James Taylor has them pegged as the best band of 2014. Taylor cites the band’s “cheeky rock ‘n’ roll with tons of attitude” as a standout factor. Their 2013 release “Are Not Amused” is a sprawling release that ambles through unexpected turns of fully credible hip-hop and jazz. The Bread, Sour Bridges, Summer Swells and Ali Holder also perform.
Also playing. The Sun Machine, I am the Albatross at Hotel Vegas; Only Human, My Education at the North Door; Grape St. at Red 7;