Editor's note: On Tuesday, March 17, the City of Austin closed all restaurants and bars and banned group gatherings of more than 10 people to curb the spread of coronavirus. This applies to the events featured below, and the ban will be in effect until May 1.
The unprecedented cancellation of SXSW has Austin reeling, but the show will go on for many of the "unofficial" music events planned across the city.
Now is the time to stand with Austin and support the city's music community and all industries affected by the abrupt cancellation. To that end, we've compiled this guide to the best free events that are still going strong — one for every day that the festival was set to take place.
ATX Embassy at Antone’s, Friday, March 13
Ring in Friday the 13th and kick off your not-SXSW experience with a trip to the ATX Embassy: Nonprofit Expo and Music Showcase at Antone’s. The bill includes a varied group of Austin acts, such as Eric Tessmer, Los Coast, Jackie Venson, and others. A nonprofit expo and happy hour will run from 5-7 pm, and then the music will start. The show is free, but donations at the door are encouraged.
Soundcheck Saturday at Hotel Vegas and The Volstead, Saturday, March 14
One of Austin’s best bands, White Denim, will headline this free party at Hotel Vegas and The Volstead. The local support here is great as well, with Annabelle Chairlegs, Sailor Poon, TC Superstar, The Bad Lovers, and more set to perform. Additionally, El Tule will headline a cumbia night inside Hotel Vegas, and DJ Orion Garcia will play The Volstead. Doors are at 2 pm.
Austin Town Hall vs. Side One Track One at Hotel Vegas and The Volstead, Sunday, March 15
This free party, also at weekend hot spot Hotel Vegas/The Volstead, is presented by two local music blogs, Austin Town Hall and Side One Track One. (Editor's note: The writer, John Laird, is also the editor/owner of Side One Track One.) The bill features 30 local bands, including Blackillac, Mobley, Calliope Musicals, Sun June, BLXPLTN, Como Las Movies, and plenty more. Doors are at 1 pm.
Strange Brew 9 at Hotel Vegas and The Volstead, Monday, March 16
Even if you've been at it all weekend, head back to Hotel Vegas and The Volstead for Strange Brew. This party has a fair share of locals, such as Holy Wave, Smiile, and Mean Jolene, and out of towners, including The Orielles (UK) and Dumbo Gets Mad (Italy). Doors for this free show are at 1 pm.
Shred Patty’s Day at The Far Out Lounge, Tuesday, March 17
Head to The Far Out Lounge on Tuesday, March 17, for the event with a punny name. The free show is set to stretch across two stages and will feature a lot of great rock acts, including The Well, Naked Giants, The Mammoths, and others. There will also be a DJ set from surf rockers High Waisted. Doors are at 2 pm.
Ranch X Chicken Ranch 2020 at Hole in yhe Wall, Wednesday, March 18
Local label Chicken Ranch will host its annual party at Hole in the Wall on Wednesday, March 18. The eternally entertaining Peelander-Z will headline, with Mr. Lewis, JM Stevens, Komorebi, and more on the bill, too. The show is free and starts at noon; RSVP to be registered for various doors prizes.
Skylab 2020 at Scholz Garten, Thursday, March 19
Nonprofits Spaceflight Records and Mosaic Sound Collective are putting on this free show that features one of the most stacked lineups you’ll find around Austin next week. The Black Angels, The Sword, And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Golden Dawn Arkestra, and lots of other great local bands are on tap. The famed Matt Pinfield will host. It kicks off at 11 am.
Fiesta Destructo at Barracuda, Friday, March 20
Originally set for Kinda Tropical, the appropriately named Fiesta Destructo has made the jump to Barracuda. If you want to thrash away your rage, this is the show. The bill features heavy acts like Power Trip, Pissed Jeans, Dwarves, The Spits, Emily Wolfe, and more. This free show will kick off at 1 pm.
Audiolab 2020 at Wright Bros. Brew & Brew, Saturday, March 21
Jump to the east side and stop in at the Wright Bros. Brew & Brew for Audiolab 2020. This free show features a slew of quality local acts, such as Quiet Company, Gentlemen Rogues, Stella And The Very Messed, Mt. Grey, and more. Things will get underway at 2 pm.
Lucy’s Fried Chicken Revival at Lucy’s South Congress, Sunday, March 22
Sunday, March 22, marks the end of Lucy’s string of 2020 SX-ish shows (they start on March 18), and it’s how you should wrap your weekend. Ray Wylie Hubbard, Western Youth, John Dee Graham and William Harries Graham, and others will perform. Lucy's shows are free and run daily from noon-7 pm.