10 Free Week Acts to Watch This Weekend

Keep an eye out for these musicians in 2019


Abhi the Nomad (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

Abhi the Nomad

Stubb’s, Thu. 3
For the next three years, Austin hopefully holds on to Abhi Sridharan Vaidehi. Credible assurance arises from the Indian rapper's receipt of an O-1B visa for extraordinary artistic abilities, as well as his deep love for the capital. Approval from Homeland Security followed standout 2018 sophomore LP Marbled, out on esteemed hip-hop imprint Tommy Boy Entertainment. Vaidehi's sweet, wonky wordplay now extends into a four-pack of snappy singles. The 25-year-old calls them an experiment in "just completely rapping my ass off." Catch his premiere on Red River, because our city needs to nail down this nomad. – Rachel Rascoe

PR Newman

Hotel Vegas, Thu. 3
Longtime fixture of the Austin music scene and former co-leader of the Berkshire Hounds, multi-instrumentalist Spencer Garland's solo project, PR Newman (Punkrock Randy Newman), swaggers with candid intensity. Debut 2018 LP Turn Out weaves through a smart, unpredictable amalgamation of genre. From pure bluegrass twang on "Damn, I Miss That Guy" and jangling bop in "Everything" to the winking, brutal takedown of hipster Austinites' obsessions with rural living ("Let's Go Meet in a Small Town"), Garland's sharp lyrics string together brassy funk and soul grooves with Americana and classic rock riffs, all awash in punk-meets-honky-tonk 'tude. – Libby Webster

Sherry

Hole in the Wall, Thu. 3
On 2017's Not Brandy, Not Whiskey, John Michael Sherry muses on the passage of time while painting landscapes in Ram and Rundgren country. Less dreary than Stephin Merritt, less cloying than Wayne Coyne, the singer balances melancholy leisure with charged sentiment, using the right brushes, colors, and brushstrokes to mark measures and arrange embellishments. Honest reflections fed through shaky harmonies ground the moonglow piano magic of elegant tracks like "Each Day" and "Enough," making them mortal without breaking the spell. Live, daylight arrives when Sean Lochridge, Declan Murtagh, Austin Perriraz, and Sherry bomb that alchemy with surf-pop psych and amp rock delight. – Rick Weaver

Single Lash

Elysium, Fri. 4
Disintegration? Substance? Power, corruption and lies? If these words trigger visions of gloomy British accents and angular Eighties hairstyles, then Single Lash is for you. The local trio's 2018 Holodeck Records release Providence may be 20 years late to the Cure/Joy Division/New Order canon, but frontman Nicolas Nadeau looks and sounds like a Texan Robert Smith, barking bedroom lyrics over a My Bloody Valentine of noise. Despite the bath of guitar textures, expect a wire-tight live show, anchored by multi-instrumentalist Neil Lord of Thousand Foot Whale Claw and Future Museums. – Dan Gentile

Nolan Potter's Nightmare Band

Barracuda, Fri. 4; Hotel Vegas, Sun. 6
Atypical from any angle, NPNB's performances commence with a flute-wielding frontman facing away from the audience, conducting his seven-member ensemble through an escalating overture like Leonard Bernstein on LSD. The ensuing ritual finds the double-drum unit firing fast fuzz riffs to the rally cry "Dosing the President," then summoning the Age of Aquarius via 12-string guitars and compounded time signatures on "Pity in the City." The 11-month-old ATX project strings together prog, psych, and cloud pop with dark whimsy reminiscent of Alice Cooper outlier Pretties for You or early Mothers of Invention, minus the satire. – Kevin Curtin


Why Bonnie (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

Why Bonnie

Barracuda, Sat. 5
Why Bonnie's pearly dream-rock teeters between gauzy simplicity and the shadowy ache of plunging into the darkest parts of yourself. Helmed by guitarist/vocalist/founder Blair Howerton, the Austin group's excellent 2018 EPs, debut In Water and Nightgown, swim through a haze of memories and longing: cerebral, subtle, and tender studies of grief and love. Howerton's vocals simmer, veering from angelic to cavernous wail. Why Bonnie's Free Week set precedes their return to opening for guitar wunderkind Snail Mail at her sold-out Mohawk show January 19, and a debut LP slated for later in 2019. – Libby Webster

Marfa Crush

Scoot Inn, Sat. 5
Marlon Sexton was born with a rock star aura accentuated by a cruel onstage swagger and lanky lean into the microphone. The frontman of this young quintet comes by it naturally as scion of ATX musical MVP Charlie Sexton, with the sharp-cut jaw and breakout talent to match his father's own Eighties emergence as an L.A. teen idol. Hunter Pierce, Colton Kincaid, Matt Erlandson, and Residual Kid guitarist Deven Ivy combine with Sexton in mellow but forceful rock above a bed of heavy beats and effects, the singer moaning breathless and poetic angst into first singles "Nights" and "Bloomer" at the end of 2018. – Doug Freeman


Quin NFN (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

Quin NFN

Empire Control Room, Sat. 5
A 17-year-old rapping with Danny Brown's blitz and Kodak Black's menace, Quinlan McAfee's been primed since birth. The local's mother soundtracked his childhood with classic R&B while he and his older brother spent their days tucked inside East Austin's Beat Kitchen soaking up the MC mentality. The acronym standing for No Friends Needed comes alive within Quin's breathless flow, stacking rhymes into hookless hits popping with vulgar wit. Boosted from cosigns by SayCheese TV and Elevator Mag, the Austinite released Stain or Starve in November and its video for "Numbers" already has some 300,000 views. – Jeremy Steinberger

Borzoi

Hole in the Wall, Sat. 5; Hotel Vegas, Sun. 6
Most post-punk looks down its nose at the genre's last syllable. Not singer/guitarist Zach Woods, singer/drummer Rhys Woodruff, nor bassist Taylor Browne. Their recent 12XU full-length A Prayer for War showcases a local unit trading in punk's loud/hard/fast aspects, but at obtuse angles. Noisy Eighties L.A. DIY intros and choruses give way to clipped funk verses on opener "The South Is Risen," while the title track screams feedback and "Lizard Men of the Third Reich" sounds like Motörhead playing math rock. And that's simply the first three songs! This is high-speed, brainy brutality designed for your dancing pleasure. – Tim Stegall

Sun June

Beerland, Sun. 6
On last year's debut full-length Years from local imprint Keeled Scales, Sun June defined its self-described brand of regret pop with a gorgeously soothing melancholy. Laura Colwell's lonely trill leads the quintet through cinematic dreamscapes, patiently swirling guitar, and rhythmic waves that pulse a beautifully reflective, understated shoegaze folk-pop. Echoes of Chan Marshall's distressed and earnest hymns ripple across their ethereally textured sound and warm reverb, youthful nostalgia and yearning mixed in with Colwell's soft, swelling chants. The band capped a breakout 2018 by complementing L.A. songstress Bedouine back at her UT stomping grounds. – Doug Freeman

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Free Week 2019, Abhi the Nomad, Borzoi, Marfa Crush, Nolan Potter's Nightmare Band, Sherry, Single Lash, Sun June, PR Newman, Quin NFN, Why Bonnie

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