Once a year the city of Austin puts on Free Week, seven days full of live music in venues all over town showcasing some of the best local talent the capital city has to offer.
Friday night seemed to be the peak of Free Week with several amazing acts playing both stages of The Mohawk located in the Red River Cultural District.
Kicking off the evening on the inside stage was Très Oui, whose EP Singles Going Nowhere was a top release in 2017 including a ‘Best of 2017’ pick from Austin’s home staple Waterloo Records. Making a rare appearance as a three-piece, the dream-pop act powered through their set playing several tracks from their upcoming LP which is slated to release later this year. The set went from guitar-driven shoegaze similar to acts like Diiv or Beach House to uptempo dance jams resulting in everyone in attendance moving along.
Following Très Oui on the inside stage was personal favorite Lola Tried, a 4-piece rock outfit led by vibrant frontwoman Lauren Burton and master shredder Ray Garza. As always with a Lola Tried set, you received a performance with the amps cranked to eleven full of hair whipping and a sweet serenade from Burton’s vocals which flip from aggressive angst to a soft caress at a moment’s notice. After powering through “San Marcos” from their 2017 EP Popsicle Queen, the group ended their set with a distortion fueled climax that left ears bleeding, in a good way. We’re also in luck because Lola Tried announced that they have an upcoming LP set to drop later this year that I’ll make sure to grab upon its release.
Immediately after on the outside stage was guitar maiden Emily Wolfe, who I’ve heard endless talk about but had yet to catch live until this night. Little did I know that this would be one of the greatest sets I’ve ever witnessed by any band, not just local acts. For a three-piece, Wolfe and company generated enough sound to fill an arena with her southern guitar riffs ripping through the night sky. Switching it up from power metal ballads similar to Austin’s The Sword, to down tempo blues tracks reminiscent of Janis Joplin or Gary Clark Jr., the spectrum of sound and talent proves she can do it all and is Austin’s inevitable next star.
As soon as her set ended, the crowd erupted in a chant for an immediate encore. The people, myself included, needed one more song. Off schedule, Emily came back out to give us a final send-off by playing a cover of Wolfmother’s hit song “Woman” causing the entire venue to belt out the lyrics right back to her. Emily Wolfe is without a doubt Austin’s rock n’ roll Goddess and she earned a lifetime fan after her performance. If you get the opportunity to see her live, do it. You will not regret it and I’ll see you there.
Headlining the outside stage and the night’s final act was Los Coast, who are no stranger to The Mohawk having had a month long residency in November. Coming out to a funk driven jam, this switched the atmosphere from Arena Rock to a hybrid of funk, soul, and blues. One of the most diverse sounding acts in the city, Los Coast somehow took me to church, funkytown, and the Mississippi delta all in the same set. Frontman Trey Privott magically channels the late Charles Bradley in his vocals belting out that vintage sound of all the great soul artists before him. Everyone in attendance was dancing along to the groove hits and incredible keyboard riffs from Nat Wright. It’s hard to imagine a band doing a more diverse set than what Los Coast does on any given night.
Free Week was without a doubt a huge success this year and I walked away with several new favorite acts to check out on a regular basis. Luckily for the fans, several new LP’s are in the works for this year from all of these great artists. If you weren’t at The Mohawk on Friday, you missed out on a one of a kind show. Just take a look at the photos below.
Article and photos by: Matthew Carlin @yo_mtv_matt