Hot Summer Nights: 13 fantastic free shows for your midsummer rocking

Find your new favorite local band when the second edition of Hot Summer Nights, the Free Week in July music series, takes over the Red River Cultural District next week. Venues throughout the district will host no-cover shows all weekend. Here are thirteen top picks to choose from, and you can find the full listings here.

Thursday, July 26

Lindsey Mackin of Annabelle Chairlegs at ACL Fest 2017. TINA PHAN / FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Holy Wave, Annabelle Chairlegs at Barracuda outside. “Adult Fear,” the fourth full-length from Austin-via-El Paso psych rock specialists, Holy Wave, floats by like a hazy summer daydream. It’s the perfect sweaty July night soundtrack. Annabelle Chairlegs, fronted by hair-whipping guitar shredder Lindsey Mackin, takes a harder approach to psych rock, liberally indulging in grunge riffs. 8 p.m. doors. 611 E. Seventh St. More info

Emily Wolfe, Quiet Company at Mohawk. Oh, it’s guitar rock you want? Don’t let the candy coating on her vocals fool you: Emily Wolfe wrangles a gutsy riff with the best of them. And Quiet Company packed muscular chords aplenty onto their wistful 2017 EP, “Your Husband, The Ghost.” The loaded bill for this kick-off event also includes Think No Think, Darkbird and Chakra Khan. 6:30 p.m. doors. 912 Red River St. More info 

Gio Chamba, Ex-Romantika, Como Las Movies at Stubb’s indoor. Austin Vida curates a diverse bill of Latin acts headlined by Houston duo Gio Chamba, who play percussive electronica. They’re joined on the bill by horn-heavy cumbia/salsa act Ex-Romantika and electro-cumbia specialists Como Las Movies. 8 p.m. doors. 801 Red River St. More info  

Cilantro Boombox, Black Milk at Empire. Detroit artist Black Milk, headlining the Control Room spits real knowledge over rich beats that fuse elements of funk, electronica and soul. Cilantro Boombox, top billed in the Garage, hosts a buoyant global groove dance party. The rest of the bill, which includes power producer Just Blaze, local turntable titan Rapid Ric and Afropop group Zounmoutchi, fills out an enticing evening of indie hip-hop and world music. 7 p.m. doors. 606 E. Seventh St. More info

Friday, July 27

Golden Dawn Arkestra performs at Empire Garage during SXSW 2018. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

Golden Dawn Arkestra at Stubb’s outside. The revolving ensemble of cosmically costumed crusaders spent most of the summer beaming good vibrations across Europe. They bring down the mothership to celebrate the release of their new full-length, “Children of the Sun,” in their final hometown show before playing both weekends of the Austin City Limits Music Festival this fall. Hard Proof, Mobley and Trouble in the Streets are also on this power bill. 7 p.m. doors. 801 Red River St. More info

Big Bill, Moving Panoramas, Special Guest at Barracuda. Art punks Big Bill are community organizers and scene leaders who demand your attention, and we love the dreamy pop swirls of Moving Panoramas.  We also have a very good feeling about the special guest on this bill. 8 p.m. doors. 611 E. Seventh St. More info

Jess Williamson at the Mohawk. With incisive lyricism and a lilting twang that aches with emotion, Williamson brings rich story songs to life on her thoroughly lovely new collection, “Cosmic Wink.” Marijuana Sweet Tooth, Cowboy Crisis and RF Shannon are also on the bill. 8 p.m. doors. 912 Red River St.  More info

Riverboat Gamblers at Cheer Up Charlie’s. If you’re ready to wreck shop, these raucous punks will not let you down.  Sea Lion, the Sour Notes and Dentist will also perform. 8 p.m. doors. 900 Red River St. More info.

Blastfamous USA, Blxpltn at Empire. The revolution might not be televised, but, trust us, it will be very loud. Protest rappers Blastfamous USA and punks Blxpltn both hit the stage ready to fight the power. Prog metal group Megafauna shreds the Control Room too and over on the garage stage Tia Carrera and Dixie Witch will tear things up. 8 p.m. doors. 606 E. Seventh St. More info. 

Saturday, July 28

Ringo Deathstarr, Growl, Sailor Poon at Barracuda. Our favorite fuzz pop trio, Ringo Deathstarr, headlines a bill that also features the final show from garage pop band Growl. Feminist art punks Sailor Poon, Flesh Lights and Shivery Shakes also perform. 8 p.m. doors. 611 E. Seventh St.  More info

Eagle Claw, the Ghost Wolves at the Mohawk. Get ready to go hard. Eagle Claw is ready to melt your face off with hard-driving instrumental metal. Garage rock duo the Ghost Wolves, who just returned from a European jaunt, Chief White Lightning and Booher also perform. 8 p.m. doors. 912 Red River St. More info. 

Fragile Rock, Sphynx at Empire. Sad puppets who indulge in emo moping? Yes, please. Headlining the bill in the Garage that night is Moving Panoramas. Over on the Control Room stage, you can catch our favorite glam pop trio Sphynx. 8 p.m. doors. 606 E. Seventh St. More info

Sunday, July 29

Fat Tony at Cheer Up Charlie’s. The Shed barber shop presents a killer Hot Summer Nights cap-off party featuring Houston rapper/singer/all-around killer entertainer, Fat Tony. They also promise a waterslide, pop-ups and more surprises. 3 p.m. doors. 900 Red River St. More info.

16 years later: Austin’s … Trail of Dead on that defining record

Released in 2002 on Interscope Records to immediate and overwhelming critical acclaim, “Source Tags & Codes” became the defining album for Austin art punks …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead before anyone in the band could really process what was happening to them.

Austin band …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead performs June 1 at Beerland. Katherine Fan for American-Statesman

Marked by constantly shifting soundscapes – languid and introspective one moment, aggressive and violently loud the next – it was an album that embraced a feeling of ambition and reach, and succeeded. It’s a record that felt capital-I important right from the drop. Although it hasn’t exactly overshadowed the rest of the band’s quality recorded output in the 16 years since, it’s the creative work they’ll be most quickly associated with for however long they remain an active unit.

Prepping for a string of international tour dates that start next week, the band called upon friends booking Beerland to throw a quickie tour prep show on Friday and used the occasion to perform their defining album in its entirety.

It’s an occasion that could have felt overly serious and grandiose, but with a mix of between-song levity from founding members Conrad Keely and Jason Reece throughout the night – lots of “Thanks for coming to our first show,” and “Here’s a new one”-type jokes – it instead felt like a celebration of a very specific time in Austin music.

JUNE ARTIST OF THE MONTH: Jaimee Harris is on the rise

The live presentation of the album’s 10 core songs – interstitial “connective tissue” passages don’t translate live – reinforced how sturdy and well-composed a piece of work it is. This reviewer has long felt that the opening in leadoff track “It Was There That I Saw You” – a slowly building guitar figure interrupted by a single gigantic bass note, followed by an immediate cyclone of distorted guitars and thunderous drums – is pretty much the band’s best base components captured in just 20 seconds.

That was born out on Friday, with band friend and longtime Austin music compatriot Aaron Blount filling in on second guitar and fitting in seamlessly. More aggressive songs like “Homage” and “Days Of Being Wild” galloped even faster and louder than on record, but the restraint and tension of tracks like “Baudelaire” and “Heart In The Hand Of The Matter” were also on display throughout the nearly hour-long set.

In all it was verification that … Trail Of Dead circa 2018 is comfortable with their master work and more than capable of keeping the material fresh and vital for listeners old and new.
After the performance Reece and Keely sat down to talk about the album’s legacy and inspiration, and where they’re headed.

Austin band …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead performs June 1 at Beerland. Katherine Fan for American-Statesman

Austin360: How does it feel to kind of live in those songs 16 years after the record was released?
Jason Reece: For us it’s like going back in time. At the time we were very ambitious and thinking bigger picture. Not in a mainstream way, but we wanted to make an impression with an album that would go in a direction almost like what Public Enemy did with “Fear Of A Black Planet” or Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side Of The Moon.” The mentality was “Let’s make an album that is connected.” Tonight was weird because we didn’t have the segues between songs that were the connective tissue for the album that link everything together conceptually, like albums did often in the ’70s.

Revisiting the album this week, it struck how cinematic it felt, creating these vivid scenes and landscapes lyrically and with the music. Is that what you were trying for?
Reece: Of course. For us film is very important. Everybody in the band at that time was super into movies. The guitar player, Kevin Allen, worked at a video store before we got the “big money” from Interscope. Neil Busch was turning me onto these movies by (Rainer) Werner Fassbinder and we were weird arty punk rockers who were into film. Film was our common language and where we flourished. Lots of the songs were written off of inspiration from film and paintings.

The lyrics are absent any proper nouns or specific people and situations. Were you trying to make things more general and open?
Reece: We were trying to be egalitarian. At the same time we were in the Austin scene looked at as kind of a bunch of (expletive). At that time there was the Stevie Ray Vaughan blues rock, then a bunch of noisy experimental music, and then you had us and we were friends with lots of arty college students along with crusty punks. We didn’t fit in any of that stuff at the time. We were too arty for the punks, and too punk for the art people.

Conrad Keely: We played the “Source Tags” material for the first time at a house party opening for (blues punks) the Crack Pipes. We were still writing the songs at that point.

A-LIST PHOTOS: See more from Friday’s Trail of Dead show at Beerland

When the record came out it had such a huge reception. Was there pressure from that?
Keely: The kiss of death. There was never outside pressure because we always demanded more of ourselves. We wanted to make it ambitious. Sometimes when you do that you fall on your face, but that was the only pressure we felt. When we were writing it we were part of the rock scene here but I personally was part of the rave scene, before they passed the law that closed all the parties. I would go to raves because no one I knew would be there. I had my secret place with rave friends. That’s what I was into, with lots of house music. There’s actually references to that in the album. “It Was There…” is actually about a rave and one of the original lyrics is “I saw you at the rave,” but I changed it. So there were influences on the record from all over.

It’s such a product of where you all were at a specific time. It’s kind of a lightning in a bottle thing, isn’t it?
Keely: Definitely. We’d been touring Europe and met the band Mogwai and that got in there. I’d have to say most of our influences were our friends’ bands here in Austin. I was friends with the Prima Donnas and I thought we were in direct competition with that band, and others like Knife In The Water. I loved the eclecticness of that time in Austin. I wasn’t listening to what was going on nationally because I was so focused on the music from around here.

This many years on, how do you feel about how the album represents you as a band?
Keely: At first I disliked that. I would say at times that it was my least favorite of our records. When we were first asked to perform an album version of it about five years ago, I fought over it. But when we performed it, it felt really cool and felt good about the songs. I gained an appreciation for it that I’d lost.

What’s going on with the band creatively now?
Keely: We’re working on our 10th album, doing it a little bit differently since I’ve got a home base studio and I’m working out at Mosaic Sound Collective and we’re doing it there. It’s coming together more in bits and pieces, which is sort of how we wrote (2005’s) “Worlds Apart.” I’m curious to see how it all comes together.

Cumbia, Bikers, Ice Cream and Babes: Austin has a summer music fest for everyone

We have four months til Donald Glover, Janelle Monae, Paul McCartney and many more hit the big stages at Zilker Park for our city’s outdoor music behemoth, Austin City Limits Festival, but don’t fret movers and groovers, Austin’s festival calendar doesn’t slow down for summer.

Riders Against the Storm host RAS Day in August. Erika Rich For American-Statesman

Whether you’re into cumbia or conscious hip-hop, bikers or babes, there’s a mini-fest for everyone. (And yes, we are classifying September as summer, because Austin.)

June 2: Illectric River at Whitewater Amphitheater. The new locally produced fest boasts a lineup of electronic dance music DJs including Getter, Jai Wolf, Liquid Stranger and more. The event also will feature art installations and live graffiti painting. $55-$90. 4 p.m. gates. 11860 FM 306, New Braunfels. Illectricriver.com — D.S.S.

June 7-9: ROT Rally at Travis County Expo Center.  The Republic of Texas Biker Rally hits town June 7-9, and they’re bringing ZZ Top with them this time. The multimillion-selling Texas rock trio will play the annual bash at the Travis County Expo Center on Saturday, June 9, with El Paso’s Dirty River Boys opening. The lineup for Friday, June 8, features Shooter Jennings and Richie Kotzen, with an opening night on Thursday, June 7, teaming Hairball with the Lacs. Tickets, $30-$99, are on sale via the event’s website. The event’s traditional downtown parade is set for Friday evening, June 8, with a party on closed-off Congress Avenue to follow. — Peter Blackstock

PHOTOS: Highlights from the 2017 ROT Rally

June 9: Wepa Festival at Kenny Dorham’s Backyard. The cumbia roots festival launched last year by Colombian-American artist Kiko Villamizarexpands to nine cities around the world with dates in Germany, Austria, Mexico and Colombia. The festival celebrates masters of the cumbia tradition, and this year’s headliner is Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto, described by Villamizar as the orginators of Colombian cumbia. Villamizar and a host of other local and international artists also will perform. The event will include an artists market curated by Las Ofrendas. $23.16 (advance), 2 p.m., 1106 E. 11th St. wepafestival.com. — D.S.S.

June 23: Ice Cream Festival After Dark at Fiesta Gardens. The popular ice cream extravaganza expands, complementing the kid-friendly daytime bash (which runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) with a night party featuring boozy frozen drinks for the grown folks. The music lineup tilts toward sizzling soul, with funky R&B lifer Lee Fields and the Expressions headlining. Austin’s queen of soul, Tameca Jones, silky alt-R&B standout Mélat and expressive local pop outfit the Wild Now are also on deck. Former President Barack Obama’s favorite turntablist, DJ Mel, rounds out the roster. $35 (day-party passes $15, kids under 6 free). 6 p.m. 2101 Jesse E. Segovia St. austinicecreamfestival.com  — D.S.S.

Snoop Dogg performs at RIO on 6th St. during SXSW on March 16, 2017. (Tamir Kalifa/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

July 21-22: Float Fest in San Marcos. Tube the river and groove to tunes: It’s a natural pairing for a Central Texas summertime fest. This one invariably has had strong lineups, too, and this year is no exception, with Tame Impala, Snoop Dogg, Bassnectar, Run the Jewels, Glass Animals, Modest Mouse, Lil Wayne, Bun B, Joywave, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and a solid raft of locals. $79-$119 includes music and camping (separate charges for tubing, parking and RVs). 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday. 601 Dupuy Ranch Road, Martindale. floatfest.net. — P.B.

July 26-29: Hot Summer Nights. After a successful showing last year, the mini-fest dubbed “Free Week in July” will take over clubs in the Red River Cultural District again this summer. Artists, show times and participating venues will be announced later this summer. — D.S.S.

August 25: RAS Day at Kenny Dorham’s Backyard. Headlined by soul eccentric Saul Williams, who rose to prominence 20 years ago with a starring role in the 1998 movie “Slam,”  and has consistently created powerful protest rock and rap for over 20 years, the family-friendly get down hosted by husband-and-wife rap duo Riders Against the Storm returns to its original location in historic East Austin. Also on the lineup this go round are excellent female rappers Nitty Scott and Maimouna Youssef a.k.a. Mumu Fresh, who blew us away performing with Common’s new project August Greene at South by Southwest. Afrofuturist Brazilian duo Gato Preto rounds out the bill. $20. 3 p.m. 1106 E. 11th St.   facebook.com/rasdayfestival

August 30-Sept. 2: Babes Fest. The signature event from Boss Babes ATX, Austin’s premiere badass woman collective, includes three days of panels, films, comedy, workshops and more. Music will be woven into other events, but the big bash is a Saturday night concert at the Mohawk headlined by blazing hot hip-hop and R&B duo Oshun who hosted an epic soul shakedown during SXSW this year.  Also on the bill are Latasha and local R&B sensation Alesia Lani.   $25 music showcase only; $50 all inclusive. 912 Red River St. babesfest.com

Thandiwe and Niambi Sala, the duo behind Oshun. Erika Rich/For American-Statesman

SXSW Sound Style: The Afrofuturism of Oshun

September 7-9: Waterloo Music Festival at Carson Creek Ranch. Hey man, you like the jams? This new event features three nights of loosely structured improvisations from the String Cheese Incident plus sets from Grateful Dead tribute act, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Railroad Earth, the Motet and more.  Tickets, $99 for a three-day pass. Prices will rise to $119 on an unspecified date. waterloofest.com

September 22-23: Pecan Street Festival. The fall edition of Austin’s longest-running street fair features artists, food vendors and three stages of free music from local artists. Sixth Street. pecanstreetfestival.org

Bright Light Social Hour, Digital Wild set for final Blues on the Green

The Digital Wild will open for Bright Light Social Hour at the summer’s final Blues on the Green concert in Zilker Park on Aug. 2. Contributed/Philip Edsel

Summer still has a long way to go, but KGSR’s Blues on the Green concerts are hitting the home stretch. The long-running local music series will present its final 2017 show on Aug. 2 in Zilker Park with psychedelic-tinged rockers Bright Light Social Hour plus rising electronica/hip-hop group the Digital Wild, our Austin360 Artist of the Month for May.

READ MORE: Bright Light Social Hour goes deeper on second record

The radio station announced the performers during Wednesday evening’s third show of the season, which featured Shinyribs and Jackie Venson. That followed concerts in June with Grupo Fantasma and Hard Proof, and May’s opening event with Jamestown Revival and Walker Lukens.

Blues on the Green shows are free. Music starts at 8 p.m.; plan to arrive a couple of hours early if you want to claim a spot near the stage. More details are at the station’s website.

PHOTOS: Blues on the Green with Grupo Fantasma on June 14