On March 14, 2015, I jumped in a jeep with four of my friends and drove 16 hours to Austin, TX.
SXSW was such a crazy experience. With everyone I talked to beforehand describing it as a "clusterfuck", I was bracing myself for a week of panic, social anxieties, blood, sweat, and tears. During the ten days spent Austin, I saw more diversity in one city than I have seen through all my years of traveling. SXSW fills Austin, TX with twenty and thirty somethings who spend a week indulging in copious amounts of concerts, tex-mex and marijuana. With zero expectations, I wasn’t disappointed at all when my week varied from conversations with new friends to finding myself backstage of the comedy central stage taking tequila shots with some of SNL’s and Comedy Central’s best comedians.
Upon arriving, I set one rule for myself - don’t say no to anything (except drugs [from strangers]).
SXSW GUIDE FOR NO DISAPPOINTMENTS.
For those reading this who have yet to make it down to Austin for SXSW festival here is a guide to get you through the week.
First, the DO NOTS:
- Do not try to be an artist and an attendee. You really have to choose what you’re going for. There were bands that I really wanted to see but didn’t have time to wait in the lines to get into the venues because of my own showtime conflicts. Either go to SXSW to play or go to watch.
- Do not bother getting artist bands if you’re playing. We never really figured out what the artist wristbands do... this is also because most of the people working didn’t have a clue either. Most of the time, we couldn’t even get into shows unless we were on the list of RSVP’d. So save yourself the money and use it for gas, you'll be fine without.
- Say no to drugs - Not because drugs are bad but apparently people lace their weed with all sorts of surprises. So don’t be unfortunately surprised.
- Don’t bother going if you’re not 21. Trust me - wait. You can’t get into any shows and you don’t ever want to be the only sober person there, I promise you.
- Don’t expect to network with industry professionals. As you may or may not have heard, SXSW is the Spring Break for the music industry. The labels, managers, PR people, publicists, booking agents, etc are all there to party... so just party.
- Do not go if you hate theme parks. SXSW is like a theme park without any rides; long lines, lots of people. Sometimes you can’t get into your favorite band’s show, a disappointment similar to waiting in long lines for your favorite ride and it shutting down for maintenance right before you get on. Sometimes, you see artists you admire who won’t autograph your autograph book or maybe aren’t who you thought, and it's similar to witnessing your childhood hero take off their costume. These things can be scarring, so brace yourself. Once in a while, you’ll find the turkey leg stand, the gold in all the chaos. You just have to find those turkey legs and eat them as they come.
If the list above hasn’t ruled out your possibility of traveling to SXSW as an attendee or band, then here are some “must-do’s” while in the city.
- See indie bands. The bigger acts will be nearly impossible to see and there is a lot of really great smaller bands worth checking out.
- Enjoy Austin! Austin is a great city to explore. If you’ve ever spent anytime in Nashville, it reminded me of Broadway street if it stretched through three different streets, minus all the honkey-tonks, plus all of Nashville’s coolest pubs and venues. I rented a bike and explored the city. I found some great coffee shops, record stores and places to eat. One of my favorite dinner & beer spots was called Easy Tiger.
- Do your research. See who is playing and where then map out your day. There are shows going on throughout the city throughout the entire day. You won’t have time to do it all especially with all the walking across town. It’s A LOT of walking.
- Stay in a hotel, if you can afford to do so. We stayed about 20 mins north of the city. It was hard to find a place to park, plus parking can get expensive. Only cheap parking is about a mile away and there are some crazies out that way so beware. Just stay someplace you can walk to and from, your life will be better because of it. There’s no where you need to drive.
- Have the time of your life. Be young. Stay out late, make friends and bad decisions. No regrets.
I had such a great time in Austin playing my official showcases, especially the one for NoiseTrade with Humming House, The Wans, Colony House, and many great bands. I enjoyed all the shows I was able to see like Earl Sweatshirt, BORNS, COIN, and Rae Sremmurd to name a few. I would go back to Austin in a heartbeat. I’d go for the chaos, the friends, the breakfast burritos, the music and everything that comes with SXSW. Below are a collection of photos I took during my trip to Austin, TX.