SXSW is so much fun but it can be daunting trying to plan who you’ll see and getting around Austin for the first time. I’ve compiled my top tips to get the most of the event although even without these you will have definitely have fun…
Have a schedule of the shows/parties you want to go to. Print this off in-case your phone dies and share where you’ll be with people you want to catch-up with. Although be prepared not to find those you do want to meet up with. Choosing a stage side or prominent meeting place can help.
I usually use sched.org to create mine and they try to list everything happening at SXSW but it’s particularly good for the unofficial events.
RSVP to any parties you want to go to. Even with a wristband this can be essential to actually get in and parties book up fast. If there’s a queue (which is more than likely), you’ll also get priority entry over non RSVPs. The Fader Fort party is already closed for RSVPs….
Sites outside of the main SXSW website that list events/parties:
Be prepared to walk, a lot. Alternatively rent a SXCycle or get a very interesting tour of downtown by grabbing a lift on a pedicab or rickshaw.
Don’t only hang out around the top of 6th street. Head towards the bottom of East 6th Street to the more arty, graffiti splattered streets and venues like Shangri-La and Red River Street for venues like Red Eyed Fly.
If your friends are debating which shows to go to don’t be scared to just go off on your own to make sure you catch the bands you want. You will make new SXSW friends.
Leave plenty of time to get into the shows you want but still be prepared to queue when you get there.
There’s not much on 6th street the heart of SXSW outside of bars, venues and restaurants so come prepared with all your travel and electronic essentials.
Once you leave your hotel/apartment at the start of the day it’s unlikely you’ll make it back until the next morning so don’t lug around lots of possessions but dress-wise be prepared.
SXSW is pretty casual dress wise (well casual as in a lot of people have spent hours trying to look like they have just rolled out of bed). The weather can also quickly change in Austin so be prepared for sunshine and rain. For the ladies I recommend ankle boots, a good dress and a shirt to throw over it at night. Plus plenty of tissues and hand wipes for some of the less lady friendly toilet facilities.
Have your I.D and SXSW pass on you at all times.
Have lunch/dinner on the rooftop patio of the Iron Cactus, 606 Trinity Street. A fantastic Mexican Grill and Margarita bar. Booking recommended.
Waterloo records is heaven for vinyl fans and they run showcases throughout SXSW. It’s also next to 24diner, amazing in the early hours.
Austin is a beautiful city with lots to see outside of music so walk off your hangover by spending a couple of hours wandering around Texas State Capitol, University of Texas, Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail- a 10 mile path bordering the lake on its flow through downtown, or exploring the shops and galleries on South Congress Avenue.
Definitely catch gigs at Mohawk and Red 7. Both have inside and outside stages and generally just rule. Don’t be put off by the queues at Mohawk in particular, it is totally worth the wait.
View all bands playing at Red 7 here.
View all bands playing Mohawk here.
You can more tips from true Austinites onn Twitter, use the hashtag #TrueAustin .
On Facebook, ask on Visit Austin, Texas .
Parties/showcases to check out:
Spin at Stubb’s (Fri 15th March) including Parquet Courts, Solange and Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
Spotify The House (Mon, 10th-Fri 14th March) including Real Estate and Phantogram
Sub Pop Vs SXSW Officially Unofficial (Thurs, 13th March) including Avi Buffalo and La Luz
Spider House Rager (Sat, 15th March) including Ty Segall and Coachwhips. The pub/venue will also be selling $2 Lone Star throughout SXSW
Hype Machine’s Hype Hotel (Tues 11th-Sat 15th March including Hospitality, Kelis and Washed out. You usually have to queue to pick up your pass for Hype but it’s fun)
The Portland Party including Blouse and Wild Ones
Warp and Lucky Me Recordings (Wed, 12th March) including Jacques Green and The Blessings
Brooklyn Vegan Party (Sat, 15th March) including The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Wye Oak and Speedy Ortiz
Under the Radar Party (Wed, 12th-Fri 14th March) including Small Black and Girls Names
British Music at SXSW Presents (Wed, 12th-Sat 15th March) including Casual Sex and Withered Hand)
Filter on Rainey Street (13,14, 15 March) including Snoop Dog, Soundgarden
Reverb Party (Sat, 15 March) including Avi Buffalo and In the Valley Below