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Austin's Free Week 2022: Break it down with Dâm-Funk; have a Vegas-style Elvis wedding

After a year off during the pre-vaccine pandemic, Free Week’s return to the Red River Cultural District in the first week of January is a welcome sight.

Launched almost two decades ago to help downtown venues get through the traditionally slow stretch after New Year’s Eve bashes, the series of no-cover concerts offers an easy way to sample some of the city’s up-and-coming bands at 10 venues, most within walking distance of each other.

As with all events right now, check each club for safety protocols or changes in the lineups.

The main event has been condensed to three days this year, but anchor club the Mohawk and Eastside rock haven Hotel Vegas get the party started early with free shows beginning on Saturday and continuing through the week.

More:ACL Live cancels New Year's Eve show with Spoon, citing COVID-19 cases and concerns

Shake off your hangover at the Mohawk on Saturday when Dâm-Funk, the L.A. artist and producer who reinvented '80s electro-funk for the digital era, headlines a dance bash that also includes appearances from Austin's Vapor Caves and acclaimed body rockers Austin Boogie Crew. On Monday, the club gets loud and rowdy with instrumental metal titans Eagle Claw, Rickshaw Billie’s Burger Patrol and Ungreaved on the outdoor stage. After a more contemplative Tuesday with Robert Ellis, Garrett T. Capps and Croy & the Boys, the Mohawk turns up the volume again on Wednesday when garage punks A Giant Dog, Drakulas, PR Newman and Pleasure Venom wreck shop. Dreamy R&B soulstress Mélat plays the club on Thursday with p1nkstar and Blumoon.   

Pop artist p1nkstar plays the Mohawk with Melat on Thursday.

More:Austin's p1nkstar spotlights the beauty of transgender artists with 'Girls Like Us'

As the event takes off in earnest, several of the best options are on Friday, including atmospheric rockers Bright Light Social Hour topping a five-band bill at Empire; a hip-hop lineup at Mohawk with Blackillac, Tee Double and more; a diverse indie bill at Swan Dive featuring Chris Conde, Pelvis Wrestley, Primo the Alien and more; and a Latin-focused show at Flamingo Cantina with Los Skarnales, El Combo Oscurro, Tiarra Girls and more.

Austin acts to watch in 2022: Nané, Andrea Magee, Superfónicos, Buffalo Nichols and more

While the Free Week spotlight is primarily focused on local and regional artists, a few neighbors from the north are in the mix this year. Canadian rock band TWRP and indie rocker Rich Aucoin are both on the bill at Empire on Saturday.

Also on Saturday, Hotel Vegas hosts a Bowie and Elvis birthday celebration. In true Vegas style, the club will have an Elvis impersonator on-site to perform weddings as you groove to your favorite David Bowie tunes. (Weddings are limited to five couples and you must pay the marriage license fee in advance. Contact the club for more details.

Here’s the full venue-by-venue schedule:

Blackillac headlines a hip-hop bill at the Mohawk on Jan. 6.

Mohawk

Saturday outside: Dâm-Funk, Vapor Caves, Austin Boogie Crew

Monday outside: Eagle Claw, Rickshaw Billie’s Burger Patrol and Ungreaved 

Monday inside: Glass Shadows, Good Looks and Dead Leg 

Tuesday outside: Robert Ellis, Garrett T. Capps and Croy & the Boys 

Tuesday inside: Willy Mason, Altamesa and Georgia Parker

Wednesday outside: A Giant Dog, Drakulas, PR Newman and Pleasure Venom

Wednesday inside: Van Mary, Rusty Dusty, Queen Serene and Midnight Butterfly

Thursday outside: Mélat, p1nkstar, Blumoon

Thursday inside: Horse Opera, Andria Rose, Felt Out, Tombus, Dmitri

Jan. 7 outside: Blackillac, Tee Double, Deezie Brown, Chucky Blk

Jan. 7 inside: Jesus Josh, Aux Cutter, Kxhnid, Vamps

Jan. 8 outside: Unsane, Blk Ops, Glassing, Easy Prey

Jan. 8 inside: Bleed, On Being an Angel, Hotmom, Deep Cross

(mohawkaustin.com)

Kalu and the Electric Joint plays Empire on Thursday.

Empire

Thursday Garage: Darkbird, Kalu & the Electric Joint, Foxtales

Jan. 7 Garage: Bright Light Social Hour, Calliope Musicals, Go Fever, Megafauna, We Don't Ride Llamas

Jan. 7 Control Room: Trouble in the Streets, Night Drive, Los Alcos, Wes Denzel

Jan. 8 Garage: TWRP, Rich Aucoin, TheBrosFresh

Jan. 8 Control Room: Night Cap, Cowboy Diplomacy, Lewd Dudes

Jan. 9 Garage: Superfónicos, Nemegata, Wache

(empireatx.com/shows)

Cheer Up Charlies

Thursday: M.E. Welbourne, Orthy

Jan. 7: Body Cruise, Replica Federation, Mission Indigo, Arena, Galafutura, Alcapulco 86

Jan. 8: Magna Carda, Dorio, Mike Melinoe, Positive Thinking

(cheerupcharlies.com)

Annabelle Chairlegs plays Hotel Vegas on Jan. 7.

Hotel Vegas

Saturday: Heavy Meddo, Pelvis Wrestley, Choux Choux

Sunday: Borzoi, Dry Guy, Billy Mirror

Monday: Swass Nite Ft. Portrayal of Guilt, (Expletive) Money, Dirt Pile, Hell House, Blank Hellscape Djs

Tuesday: La Femme Solitaire, Van Mary, Vonne 

Wednesday: The Stacks, Frosty Palms, Billy Glitter

Thursday: Tear Dungeon, Being Dead, Quentin and the Past Lives, Montaz 

Jan. 7: Annabelle Chairlegs, Big Bill, Hot Cakes, Bad Markings

Jan. 8: Bowie + Elvis Birthday Celebration 

Jan. 9: Peach Fuzz Calendar Release with Buffalo Hunt, Queen Serene, Hey Cowboy! (Benefitting Planned Parenthood)

(texashotelvegas.com/calendar)

Valhalla

Thursday: Magic Rockers of Texas, Lord Friday the 13th, Dream Reamer, Juniper Berries

Jan. 7: Sudden Deaf, Dayeater, Transit Method, Mugdog

Jan. 8: Duel, the Well, Billy King & the Bad Bad Bad, Funeral Kab

(facebook.com/valhallatavern/events)

Primo the Alien plays Swan Dive on Jan. 7.

Swan Dive

Thursday: Flobama, Cloudchord, Zeale (MC), Ben Buck

Jan. 7: Chris Conde, Pelvis Wrestley, Primo the Alien, Galactic Projector

Jan. 8: Drip Fed, Monte Luna, Castle Club, No Kid$$$

(swandiveaustin.com)

Elysium

Thursday: Easy Compadre, Figure Factor, Gothess Jasmine, Roi33

Jan. 7: Curse Mackey, Sex Pump, SINE, Hermajestie the Hung, DJ AsuraSunil

Jan. 8: Urban Heat, Most Modern, Haunt Me, AI, Rosalind Hussell

(elysiumonline.net)

Green Jay

Thursday: Amplified Heat, Peth, Holy Death Trio

Jan. 7: Blue Tongue, Alex Riegelman, Under the Rug

Jan. 8: Foolish Ones, San Saba, JeTexas, Michael Hale Trio

(facebook.com/thegreenjayaustin/events)

Tiarra Girls play Flamingo Cantina on Jan. 7.

Flamingo Cantina

Jan. 7: Los Skarnales, El Combo Oscurro, Tiarra Girls, DJ Tropicana Joe

Jan. 8: Lion Heights, Micah Shalom, Soulfiya, Kroywen

(flamingocantina.com)

Stubb’s

Jan. 7: Psychotic Reaction, Psychic Love Child, KVN, Urban Heat

(stubbsaustin.com)