Free Week in Austin is upon us, and we’re pumped to start this new year off with a bang with over 100 local bands performing in just four days, across more than a dozen venues! Live music in Austin is the perfect way to get a post-holiday hit of reality and get you back into the groove.

We’re going to tell you how to experience Austin Free Week, the history of the event, and of course, offer our personal recommendations.

free week in austin texas 2023 poster

What Is Austin Free Week?

Free Week in Austin is celebrating its 20th year in 2023 and was originally created by the venue Emo’s, in an effort to keep business rolling during the off-season, which used to be quiet on Red River Street. Other clubs across the city took note and other music venues joined in, attracting hundreds of local performers over the years, now expanded to cities across America. And it all started here, how cool is that!?

Organized by the Red River Cultural District (RRCD), this year’s Austin Free Week is from January 5-7. While most performances are in restaurants and bars, think of it more like a music festival, and expect some local and regional talent to be on stage in a park or even a comedy club.

Yes, this is another excuse to pull out your music festival outfits and go wild, or just throw on some jeans (or jorts if that’s your style), and enjoy your favorite local talent while discovering your new faves.

Participating venues include:

  • Cheer Up Charlies
  • Chess Club
  • Elysium
  • Empire Control Room & Garage
  • Flamingo Cantina
  • Mohawk
  • Stubb’s Bar-B-Q
  • Swan Dive
  • The 13th Floor
  • Valhalla

Many of these were just recently featured in our Top 8 Music Venues in Austin (picked by and according to locals).

Participating acts include:

10pmtoclose, A. Sinclair, Alexalone All Day Ray, American Sharks, Amplified Heat, Angel White, BFF, Babiboi, Bad Markings, Being Dead, Big Bill, Billy Glitter, Bleach Burn, Blue Tongue, Bondbreakr, Brigitte, Bandit, Caleb De Casper, Casino, Chief Cleopatra, Chucky Blk, Cloud Companion, Como Las Movies, Dj Brad Freels, Dj Gabby Got It, Dj Notion, Dj Ortiz, Curse Mackey, D. Smiley, Dj Akasha, Dj Boyfriend Atx, Daiistar, Damak, Die Spitz, Disko Cowboy, Doeman, Duel, El Tule, Et Ceteras, Exercise, Exotic Fruits, Fawn, Foxtales, Geda, Glare, Glassing, Gleaming, Greenbeard, Gus Baldwin & The Sketch, Harry & Emmy, Helium Queens, Hellfury, Holy Wire, House Of Lepore, In A Darkened Room, Indoor Creature, Lion Heights, Lord Buffalo, Los Alcos, Lovelorn, Lunar Gold, Mutant, Mallwalker, Mason Flynt, Megafauna, Midnight Butterfly, Midnight Snack, Montclair, Moscato J, Mugger, Naga Brujo, Narrow Haunts, Nite Orvy Our Last Daze, Pelvis Wrestley, Porcelain, Queen Jane, Redbud, Rickshaw Billie’s Burger Patrol, Ringo Deathstarr, Rosegarden Funeral Party, Struck, Sabrina Ellis, Sailor Poon, Save Our Children, Scam Likely, Semantix, Semi Helix, Sex Pill, Shared Walls, Shelly Knicks, Sin And Seraphim, Skateland, Souls Extolled, Stab, Stone Mecca, Suave, Sudden Deaf, Sunrose Tv’s Daniel, Tear Dungeon, The Bright Light Social Hour, The Crack Pipes, The Selfless Lovers, The Stacks, The Tiarras, The Well, The Western Civilization, The Ill Collective, Tongue In Cheek Queer Comedy, Transit Method, Transy Warhol, Trauma Ray, Trochez, Tyler Keith, Uncommon People, Urban Heat, Vestite, and Yung Bambi.

The Best Way to Enjoy Free Week in Austin

We recommend approaching the event with a curious mind and an open ear. Go to have good drinks and food and celebrate live Austin music. Free Week isn’t about seeing the hologram of Tupac rapping on stage, it’s about discovering up-and-comers, and finding the next Tupac while unwinding from a stressful holiday season.

Most of the participating venues are near one another, so wear comfortable shoes. It looks like it will be pretty warm for the first day, but light jacket and umbrella weather for the following days, so plan accordingly.

Pro tips:

  • If there is an act you have your heart set on experiencing, try to show up a bit early since some venues can fill up pretty quickly, especially the smaller ones.
  • Dress comfortably, don’t over-research bands before showing up (discovery is part of the fun), and if you have the means, please tip generously everywhere you go since this event is about supporting the music scene.
  • Buy merch from acts you end up loving if they offer it, not just to support them but to remember the badassery you experienced during Free Week!

And if you want to keep Free Week in Austin going for years to come, whether you can make it to the live series in person or not, be sure to donate to the RRCD (once or monthly) and keep Austin musicians fed, and us entertained!