Festival organizers at the Red River Cultural District (RRCD) have announced the initial music lineup for the local nonprofit’s annual admission-free winter music festival, Free Week. Every festival concert remains free to attend although fans can RSVP online.

Beginning January 5th through Saturday, January 7th, Free Week will help celebrate the new year with three jam-packed nights of free concerts featuring over 100 local music acts performing across a dozen popular live music venues found within the downtown entertainment district. Local music lovers are encouraged to take advantage of this rare opportunity to explore the District’s most iconic and popular music spaces free of charge while supporting local musicians and venues, as well as service, hospitality, and production workers in downtown Austin.

Jane Leo at Mohawk – Photo Credit Cody Ross Cowan

In celebration of the multi-venue music festival’s twentieth anniversary in 2023, programming highlights this winter will include a number of special concerts as the District continues to rally together various leaders of Austin industry to support the local music economy. 

To kick off the 2023 festival on Thursday night, the RRCD team will host a preview party presented by Tito’s Handmade Vodka, which begins at 8:00 p.m. at The 13th Floor featuring several local music performances as well as specialty craft cocktails and photo booth from Tito’s. Donations will be accepted at the door with proceeds to benefit the RRCD, although fans must RSVP [HERE] in advance to gain access to this special event (21+ only). Any donations made to the RRCD at the event will be matched by Tito’s, up to $1,000.

THEBROSFRESH at Empire – Photo Credit Renee Dominguez

Other notable Free Week events include the following the below, although over 100 total artists from across Austin and Central Texas will soon perform in the District during three concert-filled nights next January:

  • Three-night, two-venue takeover from Resound Presents
    • Thursday, January 5 through Saturday, January 7 at Empire and Mohawk
    • Featuring The Bright Light Social Hour, Disko Cowboy, Ringo Deathstar, BFF, and many more
  • Tito’s Handmade Vodka & The Red River Cultural District Present: “The Official Free Week Kick-Off Party”
    • Thursday, January 5 at The 13th Floor 
    • Featuring Semi Helix, Et Ceteras, Shared Walls, Lunar Gold, and A. Sinclair
    • RSVP: tinyurl.com/TitosFreeWeek2023
  • Swan Dive Presents: “Tongue In Cheek Queer Comedy Showcase & House Of Lepore ATX Vogue Nights”
    • Thursday, January 5 at Swan Dive
    • Plus BabiBoi, DJ Akasha
  • DJ Gabby Got It Presents: “Frikitona at Free Week”
    • Thursday, January 5 at Mala Vida
    • Featuring a late-night dance party set to the sounds of Gabby Got It, Trochez, All Day Ray, DJ Ortiz 
  • KUTX, Cheer Up Charlies and Red River Cultural District Present: “Love Austin Music Month, Free Week Edition”
    • Friday, January 6 at Cheer Up Charlies
    • Featuring Skateland, Redbud, Como Las Movies, 10pmtoclose 
    • Hosted by KUTX-FM morning show host Taylor Wallace-Riegel, plus Confucious and Fresh of THE BREAKS
Tiarra Girls at Flamingo Cantina – Photo Credit Ismael Quintanilla III

New this year, the local festival organizers have also tapped some of the most popular restaurants and bars across the District to offer festival-goers a special selection of discount-priced menu items and promotions throughout the three-day festival. See below for the latest list of participating restaurants and bars participating in this year’s festival, in addition to the more than 10 local music venues previously announced:

  • Central District Brewing: Kayaker’s Kolsch for $4 (21+ only)
  • Hoboken Pie: Pizza slices of your choosing for $2 (only available on Thursday, January 5)
  • Marinara Miracles: Meatball Heros for $10 (15%+ discount)
  • Pelon’s Tex-Mex: Two tacos and one Mexican beer for $12 (21+ only)
  • Shawarma Point: Complimentary side with purchase of an entrée 
  • Stubb’s Bar-B-Q: Discounted 20% off pricing on all food orders
  • Vaquero Taquero: Two tacos and one beer for $10 (21+ only)
  • Wanderlust Wine: Complimentary jello shot with $5 minimum bar tab (21+ only)

Two decades ago, Free Week first started at the legendary Emo’s original location at 6th and Red River Street in downtown Austin, Texas as a way to keep the club’s lights on and staff working during historically slower winter months. What started as a one-venue event in 2003 has now grown into a movement, with venues from Austin to Nashville participating. Free Week in Austin now serves as a complement to the RRCD’s other annual admission-free music festival, Hot Summer Nights, with thousands of attendees and hundreds of local bands participating in these two city-wide music celebrations each year.

To support the local music economy of Austin, the nonprofit-led music festival will continue to curate a lineup of performances from dozens of local and regional artists each year – all of which are paid performance opportunities curated in cooperation with each participating venue, and compensation provided through both corporate partners and individual donors. 

Please visit redriverculturaldistrict.org to learn more and make an online donation in support of the RRCD’s various community programs. As a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, all donations to the RRCD are tax deductible, and donations are accepted year-round.

Follow along on social media for more news and announcements, including on Facebook at @redriverculturaldistrict, Instagram at @redriverculturaldistrict, and Twitter at @defendredriver.

2023 MUSIC VENUE LINEUP:

Cheer Up Charlies

Chess Club

Elysium

Empire Control Room & Garage

Flamingo Cantina

Mala Vida

Mohawk

Stubb’s Bar-B-Q

Swan Dive

The 13th Floor

Valhalla

Vaquero Taquero

2023 MUSIC PERFORMANCE LINEUP:

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

Curse Mackey

D. Smiley

DJ Akasha

DJ Boyfriend ATX

DJ Brad Freels

DJ Gabby Got It

DJ Notion

DJ Ortiz

Daiistar

Damak

Die Spitz

Disko Cowboy

Doeman

Duel

El Tule

Et Ceteras

Exercise

Exotic Fruits

Fawn

Foxtales

GEDĀ

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

MVTANT

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

STRVCK

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

Yung Bambi