(just pretend that's a "15" instead of "14", hehe)
Good news everyone, SXSW is next week (or technically today if you're here for the interactive/film weekend)! If you're planning on coming to Austin for SXSW this year, make sure you are prepared. This week long music fest can be pretty hectic, but with a game plan, an open mind, and some good luck (let's be honest), it can be the greatest week ever. These are just a few generic tips I always try to keep in mind when this time of year rolls around:
RSVP to everything. EVERYTHING.
And I mean everything. There is so much going on at SXSW, you won't be able to keep up with it all! But most events and showcases require an RSVP, so the least you can do is be prepared for that. I recommend creating an email account for only SXSW to keep track of it all (they are gonna spam you like crazy for awhile). There are also gonna be events that you won't even remember RSVPing to, but you never know when it could come in handy. Last year, my friend and I stumbled upon a little event that was serving an entire Tex-Mex meal complete with a margarita and dessert for free. All they required was an RSVP, so I checked my phone just in case and, low & behold, there it was! There are services that you can pay to have all your RSVPing done for you, but it's not necessary.
Keep an eye out for celebs/bands out in public.
The first weekend of SXSW, I walked right by Jared Padelicki without even noticing him. And then the next day, I realized I was walking right behind Bill Nye the Science Guy (I was too chicken to ask for a photo). During the second weekend, I was in line to see some random band and noticed Donald Glover in the corner of my eye; I didn't ask for a photo, but I did go say hello and chat for a bit. Celebrities and artists alike are crawling all over the streets of Austin, but sometimes it's hard to notice because there are so many other people there too! This photo below was when I caught the band members of Echosmith trying to hail a cab late one night, they were so nice!
Don't be afraid to go your own way.
Last year during SXSW, my roommate and I were attached at the hip and went to every show together. Then one day she wanted to go to a different show to meet up with other people while I was determined to see The 1975 at another venue. I was scared to separate because once you do it's a little difficult to find your friends again since cell phone service is basically nonexistent downtown (or at least for me it is). So I waited in line to get into the venue for half an hour, alone. It wasn't ideal, but after awhile I started talking to the girl who was standing in front of me and it turned out she was there alone too! We stuck together after that and got to jam out to The 1975 together, it was awesome. So my advice is to do what you want even if your group chooses to do something else; you'll still have fun and you won't have any regrets about missing out on the band you wanted to see!
Twitter is your friend.
I once heard that before Twitter was created, SXSW was mostly run by word of mouth. For someone like me who likes to keep a set schedule, that sounds like a nightmare. Now, everything you need to know can be accessed on Twitter (and other social media outlets, sure, but mainly Twitter). To prepare, be sure to follow every account with "SXSW" in their Twitter handle & even the accounts of just normal people who seem to know the ins and outs of SXSW. These people will be your saviors when you're trying to figure out where to go, what to do, what you need, and so on. You can also find out through hashtags where to find free food, free alcohol, an open party, how long a line is at an event, or any pop-up shows going on. Without Twitter, I would have never known when to catch The Kooks' set or where to get free bbq while I was starving & I would have never met Childish Gambino. All hail Twitter, haha.
If turned away from a show/event, don't give up.
Some events require a wristband, others require a badge, and most require you to wait in a long line. Don't get discouraged! And if you get turned away by an event because either they're at capacity or they need you to have a wristband, I would check back later (if it's an ongoing event, of course). When Grumpy Cat came to SXSW, I was determined to meet that cat. We read somewhere that you only needed to RSVP in order to get in the event, but when we got there they were only letting people with wristbands in because it got too crowded. I was so bummed. We roamed around downtown for awhile, and then I decided I wanted to try and bribe the doorman into letting us in to see Grumpy Cat. I offered him $20 and told him how we would be in & out real quick, we just really wanna see the cat (lol)! I guess he felt sorry for me, so he let me us in for free when he made sure no one was looking. So keep trying, and if you fail - try again.
Give new bands a chance.
This should be a no-brainer, yet I still see some people going to shows just to see a certain band & then afterwards they split. Or if the band they're waiting for is last in a lineup, they'll chill by the bar or pass the time on their phones until the opening bands are done. I highly recommend you don't do that because you're missing out on some awesome music. SXSW always introduces me to new favorites who I had never even heard of before. Last year I was waiting to see Aloe Blacc perform, and the bands who played before him are now constantly being played on my iPod like The Colourist, The Ceremonies, and The Strypes. So be open to new music because it's likely you'll be hearing way more from them afterwards.
You might not have time to see everyone.
Unless you're a superhuman & you have all the time in the world. But if you're not, then you probably won't be checking off every artist you wanna see on your list. Last year, my friend and I waited hours in line to see Cee Lo Green, but they were at capacity and we knew there was no way we would make it in. We called it a loss and went on to find fun elsewhere. I also really wanted to see Vance Joy and Charli XCX, but their performances always coincided with other events I had planned on, so I never got to see them. Sure it sucks, but as long as you're still having fun then it's okay!
...and of course, have fun! ;)
Other helpful SXSW guides: