|Every year, friends tell me they're overwhelmed with doing SXSW. I always get asked: what do I do, where do I find RSVPs etc.; so I decided to compile a quick condensed guide to get you in the right direction.
Let me stress: *What you get out of SXSW is dependent on the prep work you put in.*
SXSW should be about music discovery, not chasing down big name artist shows. Well established artists guarantee long lines with you potentially getting turned away due to capacity. It is sxsw, so you if you get there early enough, you might get in. Personally, I prefer little to no lines and more music. Find new bands that are up and coming, and you'll be at the front of the stage with no line to get in and plenty of space to dance. If you're lucky, a lot of these artists will have a chat after their shows too. If you don't want to listen to a bunch of artists, find playlists of official SX artists and find new music that you like. I humbly present to you my youtube playlist I've put together after hours and hours of listening to new(ish) artists:
SXSW is a huge marketing testbed wrapped in a music festival. There are a million things happening every hour, which can be daunting. Here are some good resources:
- My top artists to catch and daily schedule This is a live spreadsheet I update daily. I try to showcase the up and coming artists since SX is about discovery.
- http://twitter.com I know, I used to hate and refused to have anything to do with twitter, but think of twitter as a news site you create, the quality of the news you get depends on your news source. Follow the people that provide the news you want, and you cut down on riff raff useless news/tweets.
It's a great way to keep tabs on where friends are and where the party is. Can you do without it? Absolutely. Will you miss out on RSVPs that open and close within five to ten minutes? Most likely.
So you have a twitter account. Now what? If you don't follow the right people, twitter is useless. These are the important ones I'd suggest:
@SXSWMF @MissKrisSxSW @cameronATSX @SXsaviors @FestXperts @g_ack.
RSVSPster While I generally prefer to manually RSVP myself as it forces me to be organized, know who's playing, and get an idea of which parties/shows I want to go to, RSVPster is perfect for those that don't have time to keep up with RSVPs as they're released. It basically auto RSVPs you for almost all of the parties. Sign up early for the early bird pricing. RSVPster is taking a break this year, special permits for SX dropped by 50%. Doesn't really make sense to have an auto rsvp service if you don't have a lot of RSVPs.
So, now you're prepared in terms of being on the list. Next part is surviving physically and mentally. To ease the headaches, a survival bag/planning is a must.
You laugh now when I say bring a survival bag, but I'm serious. Phone charger, portable USB chargers, hand sanitizers, snack bars, etc. You're gonna need something to hold your free stuff too. Here's one of my favorite write ups on it:
What you actually need to pack for SXSW @Austinbloggy is a quintessential knowledge base for not just local music, but good music in general. A more in depth post, filled with laughs on SXSW survival.
If you intend on RSVPing to events/parties at SXSW, create a new junk email account to sign up. Once you do, create labels for invites. I highly suggest you sort by day. On the day of, make a general schedule grouped by time so you can easily see/pick a backup plan in case the line is too long and you don't want to wait. To conserve battery or if your phone dies, print out your schedule. Or if you have a battery pack and aren't worried about battery life, take a picture of your schedule.
Also, if you don't have the eventbrite app, I highly suggest you get it on your phone in advanced. A lot of parties use them for RSVPs and it'll get you in the door much quicker if they can scan the QR code for your entry.
There are a few venues that you should always keep an eye out for and RSVP to. Be careful when RSVPing, some venues have multiple RSVPs for different events/nights. Here are the bigger ones:
Fader Fort Fader Fort line is obnoxiously long. Worth it if you intend on staying there for an extended period of time. They always have last minute big name surprise performances. Go super early to pick up your wristband
--that's a wait in of itself.
Hype Hotel Free booze/taco bell. Hype Hotel always brings upcoming talent. Previous alumni: Passion Pit, Tennis, RAC, Kelis, Chromeo, Jessy Lanza, Future Islands, etc.
Quantum Collective on Whole Foods Rooftop Past line up: Lisa Marie Presley, Matisyahu, Suzanne Vega, Dirty Vegas, Lumineers, Imagine Dragons, Semi Precious Weapons, etc. This year will have Modern English, Kate Nash, Hanson, and Ariana and the Rose.
Spotify Spotify's presence at SXSW has exploded from the first year when Kimbra played a set. Last year Blondie came out and did a song with Dum Dum Girls. Make sure you have a Spotify account if you don't already to get in.
Waterloo Records Free, no RSVP, no badge, no wristband, nothing. Usually no line to get in as well. Previous years: Tegan & Sara, The Zombies, Alt-J, Gary Numan, Modern English, Jojo, Spoon, PWR BTTM, Diet Cig, Chicano Batman, etc.
South by San Jose Free, no RSVP, no badge, no wristband, nothing. Usually no line to get in as well. This year notables: Sunflower Bean, Midlake, Ada Lea, Ezra Furman, Seratones, La Dona, A Giant Dog, and Faux Real.
Auditorium Shores on Town Lake Past line up: The Strokes, The Shins, She & Him, Flaming Lips, Childish Gambino, Cheap Trick, etc. This is a free event and gets crazy packed so get there early(SXSW's largest stage with more than 50,000 attendees over three days). This year will have Sammy Hagar and more, check the link.
The Mohawk, Cheer Up Charlie's, Elysium, Stubbs.
A lot of venues have a locals only line. Definitely keep track of this, it'll save you a lot of headaches. These venues are good homebases as well.