While you’re never at a loss for live music in Austin, it typically comes at a price—even if it’s just a $5 cover at a favorite, fittingly grimy hole-in-the-wall. During Free Week, however, you can reap all the benefits of Austin’s music scene, and the only destined wallet damage will be the result of your bar tab.
“Free week is different from normal shows in that it is like miniature SXSW unofficial for locals only,” explains Jeremy Rogers of BUHU, a local trio who participated last year and will release their album, Relationshapes, this month.
Venues range from Red River staples like The Mohawk, Stubb’s and Empire Control Room to stages at The Belmont, The North Door and more. Bands on the roster include both local and imported talent. For music junkies, this presents the opportunity to see some favorite bands and discover new ones, while for up-and-coming artists, it offers something (almost) as valuable as money: exposure.
“If you are a really young act, it's a great way to introduce yourself to vast crowds of people, fellow musicians, promoters and new potential fans,” Rogers says (while also noting that a tip jar for artists wouldn’t hurt).
One participating Austin act is funky duo Holiday Mountain. The band’s frontwoman, Laura Patino, praises the “passion and wonderful intentions” required to make the festival happen: “I think it offers a deeper sense of connection to everybody on the scene to say, ‘Hey, [forget] money for now. I’m here because I love how music makes me feel in the moment.’”
Free Week takes place throughout the first week of the year at multiple venues across Austin.