By Rob Bradfield
This March, Central Texas will play host to one of the largest music festivals in the country – South By Southwest.
Held in Austin every year, SXSW Music runs for six days between March 13 and 18 and includes nearly 2,000 acts. SXSW Music runs alongside SXSW Film and SXSW Interactive, two similar conferences dedicated to film and technology.
Since 1987, SXSW has been a flashpoint for all levels of the music industry, from recording label professionals to the artists and fans.
This year more than 500 bands from 90 countries will fill venues across the city. Announced artists include new and unknown bands as well as independent concert veterans like the Fray and Built to Spill. Participants that purchase one of the passes available will have access to panels, parties, private sessions and a keynote address given by Bruce Springsteen.
While a large part of the conference requires a badge or wristband, many of the shows across town are free and these are what draw most music fans to Austin.
“Once you’re the age you can go, it’s a really exciting experience even if you don’t have a wristband,” said Cimarron Parker, Round Rock sophomore.
For first time visitors, Austin and SXSW can be a disorienting, but rewarding experience.
“It’s really fun, and it’s a really interesting atmosphere,” Chelsea Richwine, sophomore business fellows major and Austin native, said.
The festival coordinators suggest making advance plans for parking, lodging and events since it can be hard to find all three when downtown Austin is filled with people.
Crowds, heat, and walking aside, people that attend agree that it’s an event that music lovers of all kinds shouldn’t miss. Tickets can be purchased at sxsw.com.
Emilly Martinez also contributed to this report.