Oh, South by Southwest, have we told you lately how much we love you?
It is truly a magical time to be living and working in our beautiful city. In a little over a week, masses will be flocking to the ATX to celebrate technology, film and music during the best festival (in our totally unbiased opinion) on the planet: SXSW. All of the best Austin venues, tech companies, food trucks, and film societies will be out in full force to host and promote everything that we have to offer.
We know what you’re thinking, “But it’s just SO overwhelming, and there will be NO WHERE to PARK, and Downtown is just SUCH a nightmare, I’m so over it and I just don’t think that I will bother with it at all…” – big mistake. Beware the Austin hipster that thinks they are too cool for SXSW. We’ve got some handy tips that we here at Live Weird have picked up over the years to help you to not only survive South by Southwest, but to make it a week/weekend for the record books.
The first thing you need to know is what exactly is going on and where.
SXSW Interactive: March 7-11
SXSW Film: March 7-15
SXSW Music: March 11-16
It goes without saying that you could never possibly know about every event that is taking place during the festival, but a great place to start is Do512.com. This website has a list of over 3,000 events taking place during the festival that you can filter and sort through, complete with location and time details, as well as links to RSVP (pro tip: RSVP for anything that you might be interested in; you don’t have to attend every event you RSVP to, and it is better to be safe than sorry after you can’t get into the Hype Hotel when all of your friends RSVP’d). Now, take your awesome schedule in hand and prioritize. Be realistic. Do you have a wristband or a badge? If not, chances are you’re not going to make it in to see your favorite indie-electro band play a Stubbs day party, but the good news is that you can use that time to go see an up-and-coming rapper on Rainey Street, and then maybe catch that indie band when they play a surprise set at The Ginger Man the next night.
A couple of other important things to keep in mind when making your SXSW music schedule:
1) No one comes to South by and plays ONE set. If you can’t make it into a big showcase, don’t sweat it. There will be other opportunities throughout the week to see your favorite acts, and probably in a cooler, smaller venue.
2) That being said, a lot of these smaller shows are spur-of-the-moment things, so be on your Twitter game! We have witnessed huge acts announce via Twitter that they are about to “play a once-in-a-lifetime acoustic set at Wahoo’s Fish Tacos in 20 minutes”…you do not want to miss that kind of thing just because you don’t know your way around a social media feed.
SXSW is no small, contained festival. It takes place in every nook and cranny and chili parlor in the greater downtown area, so you need to be prepared to navigate the streets of Austin in the most efficient way. You will do a lot of walking, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes that you’re going to feel good in all day, because once you get downtown, leaving to change your footwear is going to sound about as good as jumping from the Congress Avenue Bridge. A pedi-cab is also a great, speedy way to get around downtown (these are like chariots attached to a bicycle which usually hold up to 3 people), so bring cash to pay your hardworking pedi-cab driver.
Dealing with the parking situation is by far the biggest headache of SXSW, and unfortunately there is no real way around it. The best advice we can offer is this: get a few friends together, plan and pack for the day (so that there is no need to leave and change), pile in a car and split the cost of parking as close to Downtown as you can get. If you can find a spot on the street, lucky you! If you are not so fortunate, parking fees usually range from $15 to $30 to park in a downtown lot.
There you have it friends. Take these tips to heart and you are almost guaranteed to have the time of your life. We hope that we have prepared and excited you for the best time of the year in Austin, Texas, and we will see you out there on the streets with a beer in our hand and the Texas sun over our heads!
Happy SXSW, y’all!