Faster Than Sound: 10 Fresh Finds at Hot Summer Nights

Ten sunspots on Hot Summer Nights’ triple-digit lineup

If you're cataloging the current weekend warriors of Austin's Red River Cultural District, the glossary might look something like Hot Summer Nights. This year's huge lineup, some 140 acts, populates the live, original music alternative to Sixth Street weekly, but for the next four days, they perform free. The eight participating venues – Barracuda, Cheer Up Charlies, Elysium, Empire Control Room, Mohawk, Scratchouse, Stubb's, and Swan Dive – present marquee homegrown talent including ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Peelander-Z, Holy Wave, Mobley, Mélat, and Magna Carda, but as Mohawk Marketing Manager Taylor Catherine recommends, "It's about discovery."

Increased sponsorship helped the 28-year-old market the event, now in its third year. Catherine has watched the backing Red River Cultural District Merchants Association grow since its 2016 founding by venue owners to include hotels, restaurants, and organizations like Waller Creek Conservancy. Upping foodie participation, board member Faraz Vohra of Seventh Street truck Shawarma Point coordinated a 20% discount at all district eateries for the weekend.

Catherine hopes to establish the festival as a summer staple in Austin. This year, Barracuda hosts a Feels So Good vinyl & clothing fair on Sunday at 2pm, and Mohawk's annual Quesoff commences at 1pm on Saturday.

"It's growing into a community block party," enthuses Catherine.

Like January counterpart Free Week, HSN distributes funds among participating venues (see "A Tale of Two Red River Fests," Jan. 4). Brodie Elkins, co-owner of Scratchouse, says sponsorship dollars "level the playing field." After serving as general manager, the 24-year-old purchased the bar last fall.

"By coming together as venue owners and getting funding, [Scratchouse] can book a bunch of great bands that we typically wouldn't be able to," explains Elkins, whose space previously housed Holy Mountain. "It brings out a new crowd that hasn't been to this venue in a long time."

Following Catherine's advice, here are 10 homegrown acts to discover this weekend.

Nevil (Photo by David Brendan Hall)


Friday 26, Barracuda
Punchy rock trio Nevil launched last year behind snappy, rhythmic live performances. Tessa Castor, Katelynn Garza, and Emily Rose tiptoe Nineties alternative grit and punky slither, their group sing-alongs and the latter's sleek vocals highlighting demo debut Casual Clown. "Dr. Ew" rails against deadweight guys: "I know your ego's inflamed/ But you're not all that great."

The Oysters

Friday 26, Empire Control Room
Spunky pop-punk electricity circuits from the combined efforts of Will Maxwell, Paul Pinon, and Sean Taggersall. Rock ballads and heartsick anthems swing around excitedly on last year's Space, urged along by gritty guitar and Maxwell's gravelly verse.

TC Superstar

Friday 26, Mohawk

TC Superstar (Photo by David Brendan Hall)
Eighties synthwave, lovesick lyricism, and a strong aesthetic sense coalesce in the buoyant songs of TC Superstar. Live, founding choreographer LB Flett joins a fourpiece ensemble of corresponding carefree dancers. Connor McCampbell leads the band in lush, sweeping tracks off sophomore effort R&D.

Sasha & the Valentines

Saturday 27, Cheer Up Charlies
With a heavy, honeyed voice akin to Victoria Legrand of Beach House, singer-songwriter Sarah Addi leads a pack of five. Languid dream pop rides surf guitars and synth on debut EP Green. Bandmates Addi, John Bergin, Billy Hickey, Alex Whitelaw, and Tim Zoidis all moved to Austin after meeting at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and now comprise parts of Austin acts Calico Blue and Christelle Bofale. The group returns from tour with fellow Northeast transplants Spirit Ghost.


Saturday 27, Barracuda
As buzzy internationals Shame and Fontaines D.C. enraptured South by Southwest, local septet Blood delivered their own post-punk anguish. Instrumental jitters meet lush, melodic expanses, spiked live by manifold keys, cello, and trumpet. Tim O'Brien leads with Brandon Flowers' vocal power and slow-burning poetic passages. HSN welcomes them home from their first-ever tour, which they crowdfunded.

Torre Blake

Saturday 27, Mohawk
This Austin native makes R&B through a dazzling, kaleidoscopic lens. "Way She Walks" finds warm, retro edge with collaborators Wavvy James and Afterhours, highlighting the thoughtful soul of Blake's tone.

Being Dead

Saturday 27, Barracuda
Cody Dosier and Juli Keller team up for feisty garage rock, swapping drums, keys, and guitar in a hyper flurry. Chanting lines that would be silly if the songwriting wasn't so dang smart, Being Dead introduced their wacky interests with the absurdly ceremonial video for "Apostles' Prom."


Saturday 27, Scratchouse
Originally from Mexico City, Paty Gomez-Palacio began making mixes for her friends while studying at UT. After finding larger audiences at frat parties, the DJ now creates her own EDM as Frooot, with high-gloss beats and chatty vocal interludes. "Can I Hit Your Juul?" inquires, "Is that a fresh pod? Wait, and it's mango?"


Sunday 28, Cheer Up Charlies
Initially a weekly residency, Joaquin Chaffardet's party-making magic expanded into event hub the Nu Wave, known for secret-location parties. When he's not curating hip-hop, electronica, and beyond, the Venezuelan DJ/producer performs as Joaqu.n. Latest wavy SoundCloud outputs riff on Playboi Carti's "Love Hurts" and Tierra Whack's "Clones."

Teddy the Legacy

Sunday 28, Empire Control Room
Austin native Dom "Teddy" Woodson launched online with chilled-out raps and prolific SoundCloud output like "4am in Foxys" with frequent collaborator Cedd Bo$$. The 24-year-old hyped the show on Instagram: "last year i made it one of my goals to perform at [Empire Control Room] n i finally am."

Panopticon at Austin Terror Fest 2019 (Photo by John Anderson)


Digital Tip Jars will be distributed to 10 local musicians for Austin's new "Tip the Band" program. Of over 100 applicants, the guinea pigs are: Atash, Church on Monday, Derek Phelps, Gina Chavez, the Human Circuit, Jackie Venson, Kathy & the Kilowatts, Superfónicos, the Watters, and Will Southern. Try it out at their shows starting August 1. In a press release, Music & Entertainment Division Manager Erica Shamaly wrote: "Research shows additional steps, like opening an app and searching for an account, decreases the likelihood of fans following through on tipping. This pilot will be an invaluable opportunity to see if this tool works to add more income to musicians' existing compensation."

Random Celebrity Encounters: Earlier this month, Shakira joined Austin company High Brew Coffee's star-studded list of investors, including Halsey and Kings of Leon. The pop legend approached the company after learning that they source beans from her home country of Colombia. Last week, Beyoncé dropped a video for "Spirit," featuring custom facial jewelry by local artist Nina Berenato. Dancers wore Berenato's gold "lioness masks" alongside similar pieces from Senegal brand Tongoro.

Klondike Steadman, prominent local music educator, offers his third book, Loving Practice, Developing Discipline: A Guide to Turning Music Lessons Into Life Lessons. The heartfelt read, available on Amazon, follows the recent opening of Steadman's second Orpheus Academy of Music location in Cedar Park.

Austin Terror Fest, whose third iteration in June behind headliners including Panopticon, Church of Misery, and Alcest broke out the festival beyond local borders, rebranded last Friday as Oblivion Access, emerging from under the Northwest Terror Fest umbrella as an independent event. Co-booker Dusty Brooks reports having locked down one major 2020 headliner already.

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