Live music preview: Free Week in Austin is here

When most music fans talk about the Austin scene, South by Southwest (SXSW) and Austin City Limits Music Festival are what comes up usually. But there’s another, smaller music festival that has been taking place for over ten years in Austin, Free Week. Launched by Graham Williams (Margin Walker Presents) at the old Emo’s on Sixth and Red River, the event has mushroomed to most of the Red River venues Williams’ booking company works with and then some. The event runs through Sunday, Jan 7. 

Aside from Mohawk, Barracuda, Stubb’s, Cheer Up Charlie’s, Elysium,  The Sidewinder, Beerland, Swan Dive and Empire Control Room and Garage (all located on Red River or Seventh Street) The Sahara Lounge, Hotel Vegas, Volstead, Spiderhouse Ballroom, The Belmont, The Blackheart and more venues are also participating.  You really have no excuse to miss Free Week even if school nights are out, there’s a ton of shows to see Friday and Saturday. Free Week is here. 

There are more quality shows booked than we have room to recommend to you. For a more complete list of Free Week shows we like check out our author’s Do512 page. Incidentally, Do512 put together a fantastic all-female fronted band roster on Saturday. Details are below. On to our top picks listed by day beginning with tonight’s performances. 

Jan 3

Tonight’s lineup by The Loyalty Firm and Pull String Events at Barracuda is a doozy. Hard rockers, The Well, Residual Kid and The Ghost Wolves join our favorite post rock outfit my education, The Human Circuit, Built By Snow, Chill Russell, Cartright and Honey and Salt. Acts will appear on both the indoor and outdoor stages. 

Doors are at 7 p.m. with music starting at 8 p.m. The good news is temperatures are getting warmer today but you might feel the chill tonight so dress warm and if that doesn’t help, try the hot toddies at the outside bar. They kept us warm Monday night when we caught Semihelix to kick off Free Week. 

830pm-9:10pm The Human Circuit
930pm-10:10pm Built By Snow
10:30pm-11:10pm Residual Kid
1130pm-12:20pm my education
1240am-1:40am The Ghost Wolves

8pm-840pm Chill Russell
9pm-940pm Cartright
10pm-1040pm Honey and Salt
11pm-12am The Well

Other shows: 
Red River Cultural District and Heard Presents Ringo Deathstarr, The Halfways, Coattails, Teevee at Empire Control Room and Garage 7:30p

Tinnarose, Otis the Destroyer, Darkbird, Good Field, Hard Riffs at Hotel Vegas 9 p.m.

Jan 4

There are a raft of great lineups Thursday. It was difficult to choose a single show to feature but  Red River Cultural District and Heard Presents lineup is pretty hard to beat. The Garage roster alone with Whiskey Shivers, Sailor Poon, Booher, Poly Action would be worth braving the cold for yet, Otis the Destroyer, Megafauna, Leevees, Holy Knives, Hard Riffs and Rival Waves will all be inside the Control Room with a lot of loud guitars and energy.

Both Otis and Megafauna are perfect for fans of old school, hard charging guitar rock. Whiskey Shivers put on one of the best live shows in town. You can’t beat their energy. Sailor Poon’s Saturnalia Festival set was enough fun that we want more as soon as possible. If you make it early enough you’ll be wowed by Ray Garza’s Poly Action who kick off the festivities at 8 p.m. 


8 p.m. Poly Action
9 p.m. Booher
10 p.m. Sailor Poon
11 p.m. Whiskey Shivers

Control Room

9:15 p.m. Rival Waves

10:15 pm. Hard Riffs
11:15 p.m. Megafauna
12:15 p.m. Otis the Destroyer

1:15 a.m. Holy Knives

Other shows: 

The Void Martial Arts presents Riverboat Gamblers, American Sharks, Eagle Claw, Billy King and the Bad Bad Bad at Barracuda 8 p.m.

RRCD and C3 Presents Jackie Venson, Mobley, Melat at Stubb’s Inside 8 p.m. 

Jan 5


Sahara Lounge is entering the Free Week fray with a damn fine lineup Friday at 7 p.m. presented by High Brew Coffee and The Cosmic Clash. Headliner, BLXPTN might be one of Austin’s more underrated bands. The former duo of drummer and vocalist TaSzlin Muerte and guitarist, singer, and synth player Jonathan Horstmann added drummer Jeremy Kivett to the lineup recently, adding heft to an already formidable band that plays an amalgam of punk and electronic industrial with a politically-charged commentary. 

We caught Como Las Movies for the first time at Mosaic Sound Collective. They have a Latin-based sound that incorporates various styles. Similar to Money Chicha (some songs feature Cumbia) but a different arrangement with a four-piece band that gels together cohesively. Some songs sound like a film soundtrack hence the moniker. 

The rest of the lineup is just as solid with Major Grizz, Sometimes a Legend, Dead Recipe, Sun June and The Midnight Drive. There will be a limited supply of free High Brew Coffee available. Food truck Pakal will offer healthy Mexican specialties. Bonus: plenty of free parking.

Dead Recipe 7:15p

Sun June 8:15p

BLXPLTN 9:45pm

Como Las Movies 10:45p

Major Grizz 11:45p-12:30p

Sometimes a Legend 12:45a

The Midnight Drive 1:35a

Other shows: 

RRCD and Side One Track One presents Los Coast, Emily Wolfe, Otis the Destroyer, Palo Duro, Marmalakes, Growl, Lola Tried at Mohawk 8p

Holy Wave, Diamond Center, Hidden Ritual, Leather Girls, Teevee at Cheer Up Charlie’s 10p 

Jan 6

Do512 put together a stellar all-female fronted band lineup at Valhalla (Red River bet. Seventh and Eighth St.) Saturday. Our shoegaze/psych rock favorites Moving Panoramas will be joined by Lowin, Go Fever and Vonne. Speaking from experience, you’ll really enjoy this show if you make it out. 

Leslie Sisson of Moving Panoramas is a true talent as her appearance at the Texas State History Museum with Invincible Czars and an 80-person choir behind her demonstrated. The version of her song, Harmony that was presented left even Sisson in tears. 

Lowin and Go Fever represent more great rock created by women. Sara Hauser of Lowin has long been a part of the local scene. She’s making great new music. We caught Go Fever’s Acey Monaro solo at the Project ATX 6 Gala. The Australian rocker is really fun to watch with her entire band too. We’re looking forward to this one. 

Other shows:

Quiet Company, Day Shifters, Super Thief, BLXPLTN at Barracuda 8p

RRCD and Penny Loafer PR presents Calliope Musicals, Darkbird, Whiite Walls, Megafauna, Meanswell, A Sinclair, etc at Mohawk 8p.