Free Week’s Big Weekend and More Crucial Concerts This Week

Plus back-to-back gigs from Cactus Lee, Runner and Bobby

Looking for the best shows happening in Austin this week? Check out the Chronicle music team’s handpicked “Crucial Concerts” below or in the paper every Thursday. And for our complete listings of upcoming live music events around town, head to Chron Events.

Cactus Lee Times Three

Antone’s Nightclub, Thursday 4
C-Boy’s Heart & Soul, Friday 5
Sam’s Town Point, Saturday 6

Kevin Dehan has a voice as easy as a rocking chair and lyrics that feel like you're thumbing through a scrapbook found at a rural Texas estate sale. His folk project has always been prolific (six studio albums, a live album, and three EPs since establishing in 2019), but this fall's been especially productive. October's Caravan features gorgeous Seventies folk production, November's Big Red offers a trove of melodic barroom odes, and the recent Lagniappe Session sequel floats incredible covers, like Butthole Surfers' "TV Star" and a version of the Grateful Dead's "West L.A. Fadeaway" that comes across like Bill Withers. A trio of shows pairs the Blaze Foley acolyte with Theo Lawrence (Antone's), the Point (C-Boy's), and Ramsay Midwood (STP) – plus Adam Amram (Antone's & STP).  – Kevin Curtin

The Chronicle Music Poll Pop-Up

Cheer Up Charlies, Friday 5 [Free Week]

With wintertime's annual Free Week rolling out no-cost gigs across town, the highest concentration lands in Downtown's Red River Cultural District on Friday and Saturday. To kick off festivities shared among the 13th Floor, Chess Club, Elysium, Stubb's, and beyond, the Chronicle pops up at Cheer Up Charlies to launch our own 2023/2024 Austin Music Poll (with more details on p.40) and offer free goodies while supplies last. We didn't have a hand in booking the Friday lineup, but it's a spot-on must-see assembly. Find Batty Jr., Mockjaw, and Sammy G indoors, plus Redbud, Billy Glitter, and Nolan Potter's Nightmare Band outside.  – Rachel Rascoe

Runner and Bobby Mini Tour

Swan Dive, Friday 5 [Free Week]
Coral Snake, Saturday 6
Mohawk, Sunday 7
Meanwhile Brewing Co., Monday 8

Columbus indie rockers Runner and Bobby roll in from Ohio to kick off their Austin mini tour with a Howdy Gals-hosted free show alongside Retro Cowgirl and Barb. With an instantly memorable sound that bridges the gap between the Smiths and King Krule, lead singer Parker Bailey's raw vocal talent highlights the trio's energetic instrumentals and cerebral lyricism. Fresh off their sun-kissed, surf-wax-coated 2023 EP Maui Tapes, a midsummer dream of post-punk-tinged surf jams, the Midwest must-listens' four-night run loops in further Austin acts like Ben Buck (Coral Snake) and Daydream Twins (Mohawk).  – Elizabeth Braaten

Sketch, KindKeith

Parish, Saturday 6 [Free Week]

James Alexander Adkins naturally draws comparisons to Anderson .Paak for being an improbably splashy drummer who simultaneously sings. The Florida native, known for his work with contemporary jazz giant Bob James, combines with bassist/vocalist Montez Garner for one of Austin's most instrumentally exciting rhythm sections. Their project, Sketch – rounded out by Gary Clark Jr. keyboardist Jon Deas, guitar ace Matt Muehling, and keyboard enchanter Dayne Reliford – planted their flag with a popular C-Boy's residency in 2023. Their Free Week appearance fittingly features proggy fusion argonauts DODO and the squishy indie/R&B/pop of KindKeith.  – Kevin Curtin

mugger, Pussy Gillette

Hotel Vegas, Saturday 6 [Free Week]

Though self-described as hardcore punk, mugger – founded by Creepoid's Anna and Patrick Troxell – offers more than the genre's usual breakneck riffs and indiscernible holler. "101," the most arresting off the band's 2022 demo, packs a Tasmanian devil of noise and Anna's gravelly roar. The tape's grungy instrumental "Intro" and the choppy metal guitar of "All Time Tough Guy" suggest even more up their sleeves. Come early to this marathon, where HOT///CAKES, the Get Lows, Otis Wilkins, and Pussy Gillette promise a master class in psych, dance punk, alternative, and garage.  – Carys Anderson

Nova Single Release

Soundspace at Captain Quack's, Saturday 6

After introducing a mélange of squishy synths, bleary trip-hop, and blues confessionals in 2021 debut Novaville, malleable freak-folker Nova Barton teases catastrophe. Lead single of upcoming sophomore release NovApocalypse, "Bird in the Hurricane" whirls a plucked string melody reminiscent of Joanna Newsom's medieval arrangements. Barton's despondent vocals bear a tale of stark resilience: "Maybe it's really better that I never truly got out/ I just found a way to deal with things/ I got sick of hurting myself." With a vast sonic profile rooted in Americana influences, the North Texas native's multiplicity pairs well with opener Hover's electronic neofolk and Boomershack's self-described "rock-a-soul."  – Laiken Neumann

The Spits, Die Spitz

Mohawk, Thursday 11

Buoyed by the rowdy chemistry of sibling duo Sean and Erin Wood, punk stalwarts the Spits have hawked humor-twinged garage rock for over two decades. The Seattle-bred outfit's list of fans includes hometown headbangers Die Spitz, whose band name and equally salivating live energy pay homage to their punk predecessors. After catching their breath from last fall's sweep of the states in support of Amyl & the Sniffers, the native Austinites continue to bulk up their résumé of stellar opening slots, joining the Spits for a four-stop Texas tour. Recent live sets saw the quartet tease two new tracks, hinting at mosh-ready releases from the group in 2024.  – Genevieve Wood

Music Notes

by Derek Udensi

Zach Person

photo by Jana Birchum
C-Boy's Heart & Soul, Thursday 4

This electrifying guitarist promising "unscripted, LOUD, rock & roll" begins a weekly January residency at the South Congress venue, with the sole interruption occurring due to his opening for Kool & the Gang at ACL Live at the Moody Theater on Jan. 18.

Trip Cigs

The 13th Floor, Sunday 7

A new band featuring country singer-songwriter Rod Gator plays its second show. The quartet debuted live last week at Sagebrush's New Year's Eve event.

Ibrahim Aminou & Seed Africa

St. David's Episcopal Church, Sunday 7

The inaugural season of World Music Encounters concludes with a spotlight on traditional sounds emanating from West African countries Niger, Ghana, and Guinea. Aminou, staple of Sahara Lounge's lively Africa Night Saturday residency on the Eastside, will be joined by drummer Gidi Agbeko.

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Kevin Curtin, Dec. 15, 2023

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Get in the holiday spirit with Spaceflight Records or Spiritualized

Rachel Rascoe, Dec. 8, 2023

More Crucial Concerts for the Coming Week
El Tule’s Final Show and More Crucial Concerts This Week
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Catch Lucinda Williams, Escuela Grind, or Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold

Raoul Hernandez, Jan. 19, 2024

A.L. West at a Bookstore, and More Crucial Concerts This Week
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Stop by Stalefish’s album release or Jonathan Toubin’s Soul Clap

Carys Anderson, Jan. 12, 2024


Crucial Concerts, Free Week, Free Week 2024, Cactus Lee, Nolan Potter’s Nightmare Band, Runner and Bobby, Sketch, Mugger, Nova, The Spits, Austin Music Poll

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