Tips for your trip to Austin’s big music fest next year
Do make a schedule. Planning never hurt anyone and it’s always good to prepare yourself for everything that could happen during SXSW. Austin is probably the craziest city in America for this week, a little guidance couldn’t be all that bad.
Do plan for down time. Some shows take hours to get into. Lines are always longest for headliners and big names. Never assume that even with a VIP pass you will be able to get into a show or party right away. It just doesn’t always happen.
Do keep an open mind. Bands come from literally everywhere to play at SXSW. Always consider seeing smaller bands, even if you have absolutely no idea who they are. They could be the next big thing.
Do check every online schedule of free events that you can. Even if a free event is closed to new RSVPs, the likelihood of a certain band you have your hopes set on seeing playing at another venue even that same day is extremely good.
Bands book every show they can during the week in order to get their music out to anyone and everyone.
Don’t be surprised if a band plays at multiple free venues during the time you’re in Austin.
Do try and get a lot of people together. It’s always important to be safe and traveling in groups can make things easier anyway.
This is a huge festival with hundreds of thousands of people and you want to make sure not to get lost in the droves of people.
Do research new music and talent before you head to Austin. You may discover your new favorite band.
Do plan to go to Austin for more than one day if at all possible. The full experience of SXSW cannot be had in just one night.
Do use social networking to find friends and venues. Websites like Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter can be really helpful when trying to find your friends in the city.
Don’t stick to just Sixth Street. There are really great shows playing all over Austin. South Congress and Riverside alone have just as many shows and parties going on as downtown does. If you’re an Austin partygoer, try and get outside of your comfort zone and venture to new areas.
Don’t always confine yourself to talking to your friends. You will meet a ton of awesome and interesting people at SXSW. Try and reach out to people who are at the same events as you. The more, the merrier. Just be careful who you let too close to your inner circle.
Don’t think that the only way to get into SXSW events is with a badge or wristband. The majority of the really great shows are free. Who doesn’t like free stuff?
Don’t leave for Austin too late. A lot of the best shows are going to be during the day. Check the schedule you have made for yourself and make sure that you leave with ample time for your journey.
Austin traffic is the most ridiculous during SXSW and I promise you, you will be sitting on I-35 for about an hour when normally you’re five minutes away from downtown. Everything gets pretty crazy.
Don’t hesitate to stop and watch an unknown band play on the street or in a bar. If it looks interesting, there’s a chance it is worth your time. Don’t limit yourself to seeing just headliners.
Don’t head to Austin without a place to stay. You never know how tired you will be at the end of the night.
You really don’t want to drive home if you’re incapable, especially in nonstop gridlocked traffic.
Most importantly, do have fun, but don’t forget to be safe. See you next year, SXSW.
Liz Hitchcock is a junior journalism major from Phoenix and a reporter for the Lariat.