Free week is upon us! Once again Austin bars kick off the year by dropping cover charges, throwing open their doors and inviting all of Austin to come discover a new favorite bands. Sure, Free Week, by definition, is cheapskate paradise for the thrifty (and broke) among us, but don’t be jerk. Tip your bartenders generously, stop by merch tables and be sure to give your new favorite bands loads of social media love. Here are some of our top picks for Free Week shows.
Sunday, January 1
Dames and the Giant Peach at Swan Dive. Psych-folk outfit Calliope Musicals, riding high off a big year that included the very good release “Time Owes You Nothing,” headlines, but the bill is loaded with excellent female-fronted acts, including one of Austin’s soon-to-be next big things, Annabelle Chairlegs. Zettajoule and Magia Negra also perform. 9 p.m. doors. 615 Red River St.
- Mscls, Hot Britches, Dank Sinatra at Barracuda
- Huggy & the Feel Goodz, Allysa Grace, Sometimes a Legend at Empire
- Mode Dodeca, Tusk Her, Alice Evans & the 11s, Sophies at Sidewinder
- Grivo, Augra Nowhere, Oozer, A Glass Darkly at Beerland
- Big Britches at Blackheart
Monday, January 2
Megafauna at Swan Dive. Gnarly guitar queen-pin Dani Neff and her prog-rock compadres headline a bill that also includes Young Tongue and Modern Medicine. 9 p.m. 615 Red River St.
- Two Lips, Poly Action, Sidechick at Barracuda
- Obscured By Echoes, Strange Mother, Blood Pumps at Cheer Up Charlie’s
- Daphne, Small Houses, Marijuana Sweet Tooth at Sidewinder
- ATX All About the Vibe with Ayuma, Ufulu Child, Freequency, Cure for Paranoia at Empire
- Law By the Gun, Cory Reinisch at Blackheart
Tuesday, January 3
A Giant Dog at Barracuda. After years honing their rowdy glam punk sound in Austin’s seedy hideaways, the band went national in 2016 with an explosive major label debut on Merge Records. Still believe in those who believe in rock ‘n’ roll? Show up, show out and wish music photographer extraordinaire, Pooneh Ghana, a happy birthday while you’re there. Annabelle Chairlegs, Batty Jr., Sounds Del Mar and Party Wizard also perform.
- Letting Up Despite Great Faults, Ramesh, Talkies, Rose Selavy, Solid State Dream Suit at Cheer Up Charlie’s
- Go Fever, Planet Manhood, Magic Rockers of Texas, Tyler Jordan & Negative Space at Empire
- Popper Burns, Critical Dad, Eleanors, Anna Roenigk, Those Damn Eyes at Swan Dive
- Burning Years, Thieves, Glyde, Moronic Behavior at Sidewinder
- Jonathan Terrell at Blackheart
Wednesday, January 4
Sweet Spirit at Barracuda. Prediction: 2017 will be the year the rest of the world catches on that Sabrina Ellis and Andrew Cashen’s are piloting the finest pop-rock powerhouse on the planet. Their catchy songs and explosive live show will make them very, very big. Another prediction: This show will hit capacity. Show up early. Moving Panoramas and Crocodile Tears also perform. 8 p.m. doors. 611 E. 7th St.
AMX 2017 kick off with Melat, Bird Peterson. Austin Mic Exchange kicks off the year with a party featuring Ethiopian-American R&B singer Melat, who’s spent the past few years rising through the alt-R&B underground in Texas and beyond. Her latest release is a gorgeous collection of silky love songs, laced with lush atmospherics, discordant electronics and a persistent melancholy ache. Party rocker Bird Peterson is also on the bill. 9 p.m. 2908 Fruth St.
Pushermania Real Texas Rap Edition at the North Door. Texas hip-hop’s top curator presents a showcase of underground talent. Standout acts include San Antonio spitters Worldwide and Austin’s Sertified Y Stat 1 and Chakeeta B. Lench Martinez, whose song “What Happened to Austin (My Beautiful City)” is the best gentrification anthem of the decade, also performs. 8 p.m. 501 Brushy St.
- Whiskey Shivers, Sour Bridges, Harvest Thieves, Mayeux & Broussard at Mohawk outdoor
- Flesh Lights, Xetas, Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, Lola Tried at Beerland
- Gold Steps, Lions & Tigers, Dozer at Swan Dive
- True Empty, Pale Dian, Shmu, Botany at Sidewinder
- Summer Salt, Tamarron, Juan De Fuca, Ama, Palo Duro at Cheer Up Charlie’s
- Elsa Cross, Beth Lee & the Breakups at Blackheart
Thursday, January 5
My Jerusalem at Swan Dive. The brooding rockers will surely play a suite of songs from their “dark and haunting” 2016 release “A Little Death” at this show. Fort Never, Think No Think and Letting Up Despite Great Faults also perform. 7 p.m. 615 Red River St.
- Calliope Musicals, Slomo Drags, Eastern Sea, Otis the Destroyer at Mohawk outdoor
- Swimming With Bears, Canvas People, Major Grizz at Mohawk indoor
- Satalites, Sharkweek, Wonderbitch, Dvrth Vena, Cecilia & the Broken Hearts at Empire
- Skyacre, Flyin’ Lion, Trying Science, Opposite Day at Beerland
- Major Major Major, Runners High, Coattails, Boss Battle at Sidewinder
- Bourgeois Mystics, Kiddoo & the Dude, Trouble in the Streets, Booty Control at Stubb’s indoor
- Pollen Rx, Skin Drips, Oozer, Vampyre at Barracuda
- Suckling, James Arthur’s Manhunt, John Wesley Coleman, Rhett & Dean at Cheer Up Charlie’s
- Mrs. Glass at Blackheart
Friday, January 6
Magna Carda, Keeper, Mobley at the Mohawk. Holy triple bill, Free Week! With the jazzy wanderings of live band hip-hop outfit, Magna Carda, the dreamy trip hop of Keeper and the electrifying live show of soul pop artist Mobley, this is a can’t-miss chance to see three of the hottest rising Austin acts in one fell swoop. 7 p.m. doors. 912 Red River St. mohawkaustin.com
Free Week Friday: Money Chicha at Stubb’s. Using fuzzed out cumbia grooves as a springboard for abstract accordion and guitar acrobatics, this acid trip of a Grupo Fantasma offshoot mixed Latin American sounds with psychedelia on “Echo en Mexico,” one of our favorite releases of the year. La Vida Buena and Son de Rey also perform, making this a local Latin power bill curated by Austin Vida. 9:30 p.m. doors, 810 Red River St. stubbsaustin.com
- Digital Wild, Calliope Musicals, Darkbird, A. Sinclair at Empire
- Pale Dian, Roses, more at Cheer Up Charlies
- Sweat Lodge, Tia Carrera, more at Swan Dive
- The Halfways, Amplified Heat at Spiderhouse
- El Campo, Wiretree at Lambert’s
- The Well, Glassing at Sidewinder
- Nick Allison and the Unknown Relatives at Beerland
- Steady Legend, Music4Life at Flamingo Cantina
- Claiming Neptune at Elysium
- The Bloom at the Blackheart
Saturday, January 7
Leopold and His Fiction at Spider House. Austin appearances from road warrior rockers, Leopold and His Fiction are few and far between these days, so let’s add securing this free performance to the lengthy list of reasons we have to thank show curator, Ovrld. The excellent local music blog is one of the ATX scene’s greatest champions. Calliope Musicals, Major Major Major and many more also play the two-stage bash. 8 p.m. doors. 2908 Fruth St. spiderhouse.com.
Free Week Saturday at the Mohawk: On the outside stage the club features popular rock outfit Quiet Company and funk powerhouse Mama K and that Shades. Inside, rising indie rocker Walker Lukens is joined by psych-soul outfit Los Coast and the swirly pop fantasies of Moving Panoramas. Either one is a solid bet. 7 p.m. doors. 912 Red River St. mohawkaustin.com
- Zettajoule at Swan Dive
- Knifight, Migrant Kids at Stubb’s
- Chippr Jones, Scenery at the Sidewinder
- Leche, New China at Beerland
- Six Pack Stranglers, Matamoska at Flamingo
- Shark Rider, Go Fever at Lambert’s
- Town Hall Devils; Deer Fellow at Sidewinder
- Daniel Phipps and the Kinfolk, Name Sayers at Blackheart
- ATX Hip-hop Appreciation Party with SSB & SSHM, Smackola at Elysium
Sunday, January 8
My Education at Cheer Up Charlie’s. The expansive instrumental explorations of post-rock outfit My Education, anchors this excellent Loyalty Firm-curated bill which also includes teen punk outfit Residual Kid, gnarly guitar rockers Megafauna and protest punks Blxpltn. 7:30 p.m. doors. 900 Red River St. cheerupcharlies.com
Boyfrndz; the Ghost Wolves; Digital Wild at Swan Dive. The bill promises a secret headliner, but we were already on board with garage rock from Boyfrndz and the Ghost Wolves and groovy trip hop from Digital Wild.
- Sour Bridges, El Campo at Stubb’s
- Groove Think, Transit Method at Sidewinder
- Crypt Trip, Smoky Mirror at Spiderhouse
- Lustron, Aziza at Beerland
Monday, January 9
- Leather Girls, Sherman’s March at Empire
- the Sahara Swingtet at the Sahara Lounge
- Chris Cubas at Barracuda
Tuesday, January 10
- Ben Millburn, Chakra Khan at Stubb’s
- Holodeck Records show with Pleasure Escape, Dylan Cameron at Barracuda
Wednesday, January 11
Midgetmen at Barracuda. Get over the hump with a barrage of guitars, drums and good times from these slop punk lifers. Plastique Chancellor, Growl and dream
- Amplified Heat, Machete Western at Sahara Lounge
- Midgetmen, Plastique Chancellor at Barracuda
- Nxt LVL at the Chop Shop
Thursday, January 12
Flesh Lights, Otis the Destroyer at Barracuda. Start the weekend early with a boozy blitz of bar room rock. The night includes turns from Pollen Rx, Midriff and Stilleto Feels. 8 p.m. doors. 611 E 7th St.
- Red River Family Showcase with Haunter, Nosferian at Barracuda
- Little Father, Honeyrude at Beerland
- Hours Quiet, Residual Kid, Megafauna at Empire
- Fashionweek, Robert Valera at Cheer Up Charlie’s
Friday, January 13
Riverboat Gamblers, Eastside Suicides, Peelander Z at Barracuda. Keeping with Free Week tradition, it’s not over til Mike Wiebe stage dives. The bawdy rock ‘n’ roll blowout rages on.
Saturday, January 14
Ruby Jane and the Reckless at Empire. Ever-evolving indie rocker Ruby Jane leads a bill that also includes the silky R&B singer Alessia Lani, whose catalog of steamy bedroom R&B is finally getting the hard look it deserves.
- Windows 95, Jezzebeam, more at Beerland
- Megafauna, OMGWTFBBQ at Barracuda