My Free Week Afterthoughts

freeThere’s still some Free Week activities for you over at Barracuda this week, which you should attend, but the main stretch of Free Week is over. I had a pretty solid time, bouncing all down Red River, catching over 60 great Austin bands (and a few from out of town). It’s a really special time for the Austin music community and its fan, so I’m going to leave you with some notes, as well as some highlights and things you should look forward to in 2016.

First, why can’t we get this sort of attendance all the time. No matter where I went, there was always a decent, if not large, crowd. Venues didn’t matter, lineups didn’t matter, it was just packed, and it was great to see. I’m not sure why it only happens on Free Week, but I’d love if we could all figure that part out. Having so many folks in attendance definitely makes the band’s shows more energetic; they feed off that energy and give it their all, which makes it better for us, and for them.

Second, just want to thank each and every one of you for going out. One of my favorite parts about the whole Free Week thing, aside from seeing tons of bands, is that there’s this energy that isn’t always present. Even when it’s frigid outside, Red River seems to come alive. Plus, a lot of folks bought merchandise…seems like a no brainer to buy stuff and support the bands, but honestly, it doesn’t happen that often. We worry about the state of the Austin music industry with closing venues and all that, but really the focus should be on keeping the artists and their work going…that starts with picking up that shirt or that LP instead of that last shot of Fireball.

Now, onto the highlights…

The Old Reliable: She Sir, Abram Shook and Sweet Talk

It’s easy to take bands for granted in this town, but a fewacts that I love in absolutely different ways are She Sir, Abram Shook and Sweet Talk, and they’ve all been playing Austin for years. She Sir is working on a new album, and they offered up some of those songs, which of course always appeases me…expect another great blend of indiepop later this year. I’ve always loved Abram Shook, and even though he wouldn’t play one of my favorite old hits, I feel like I don’t get to see his sets long enough. Sweet Talk is something else entirely. There’s a simplicity to the songwriting that makes their songs infectious and fun. At times, people over-complicate things, and it shows…these guys just brought good old-fashioned pop punk time and time again.

New To Me: Grivo and Dreamboat

Grivo played early in the week, and I think once word gets out on these guys, they’ll garner a larger following. There’s a lot of “gaze” being thrown out there nowadays, but I haven’t seen a band execute it so well in some time. Dreamboat on the other hand had made my way, but I caught them on several occasions, each time they brought a vibrant set to life that gave both enthusiasm and pop sensibility. I’ll take more of both of these guys.

Rising Stars: AMA and Summer Salt

Both these bands are young, and I expect big things from them both. Sure, Summer Salt is working with us on their Going Native EP, but I caught them at 1:30 AM, and they made me fall in love with their songs all over again; it’s rare to find a band that thoroughly seems to enjoy playing together as a group…then throw in Matt’s voice, and you’ll surely be in love. As for AMA, I think it goes without saying that one of Austin’s young movers and shakers is Blair Robbins. She plays in Milezo, Rain Collectors, but it’s in AMA where you can really see her songwriting going; it also doesn’t hurt that her enthusiasm carries a lot of weight in my book.

Little Bit of Country: Marijuana Sweet Tooth

In hopping about, I hit up this band’s set, and couldn’t pull myself away. It’s not often that a country/folk set really grabs you from the get-go, but the simplistic set up and the haunting sound that came from the inside stage of the Mohawk really won me over. I’ve been on a kick listening to some solemn works lately, and I feel like these guys have everything I need for those down-trodden moments in my life.

Band Everyone Was Talking About, But I Didn’t See: Calliope Musicals

Getting some NPR hype right as Free Week broke can’t be a bad thing, and it seems to have worked. Everyone was sharing photos online and buzzing with the band’s name. But, much like with Sweet Spirit, I just don’t get it. It’s not bad, and I’m not going out of my way to knock it, so I included a song and the buzz, so you can make your own decision. Also…for those saying I have to see them live to love it…seen it twice…same answer.


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