Free the Music
Austin's Free Week Music Festival returns with 12 rockin' spots for tunes, bites, brews, and more
As great as it is to get out there and support local music, the cost can add up — especially if you’re adding new bands to your must-see list. From January 5-7, 2023, Red River Cultural District (RRCD) is taking on the financial responsibility so more Austinites can go out and experience more new music, without burdening their wallets.
In addition to the return of Free Week (formerly more of an actual week, but who’s counting), nearby restaurants and bars will be running promotions. That means discounts and freebies from Central District Brewing, Hoboken Pie, Marinara Miracles, Pelon's Tex-Mex, Shawarma Point, Stubb’s Bar-B-Q, Vaquero Taquero, and Wanderlust Wine.
This laissez-faire festival welcomes walk-ups, and the layout of venues makes it easy to pop into each venue when it’s time for a change of scenery. The farthest walk from end to end — if high-energy visitors want to turn it into a crawl — is less than half a mile. One venue, 13th Floor, is making its Free Week debut.
Participating venues from south to north are:
- Flamingo Cantina
- Mala Vida
- Vaquero Taquero
- Swan Dive
- Chess Club
- Empire Control Room & Garage
- The 13th Floor
- Stubb’s Bar-B-Q
- Cheer Up Charlies
Although it’s a relatively short festival, this weekend will put more than 100 local artists onstage. A lineup is coming soon, but as of December 12, no announcement has been made.
This mini-festival started nearly two decades ago, in 2003, at the original Emo’s on Red River Street. The team used the shows to drum up business, and other venues started joining in. This is one of many decentralized festivals that moves through Austin every year including South by Southwest, Levitation, and Oblivion Access.
RRCD gets the funds to host Free Week from corporate partners and individual donors. Although it is free for fans, performers are still compensated for their work. More information and donation links are available at redriverculturaldistrict.org.