SXSW 2013 | An Unofficial Guide to Austin’s Premiere Music Festival

Jay-Z & Kanye West perform at SXSW 2012
Jay-Z and Kanye West perform at SXSW 2012. Their showcase was titled G.O.O.D Music and featured artists Kid Cudi, Mos Def, John Legend, and Big Sean.

Decide to attend one of the nation’s best music festivals last minute? There are three things you need to know now.

1. There will have to be some planning involved.

2. There will be a lot of walking.

3. You are going to have a blast.

I am traveling to Austin for the second half of the festival, and will be putting this guide into practice in just two weeks one week (I’ll let you know how it goes).

Logistically Speaking:

Lodging- Your best bet for lodging would be to stay with a friend in Austin. Since the festival is to begin in just 10 days, most hotels in the area will be booked by now. Sleep on the couch, or the kitchen floor. Most of your time will be spent running in between concert venues anyways. If you don’t know anyone in the Austin area to stay with during the festival, you can check AirBnB for a cheap place to stay for your time n Texas’ weirdest city. Many people are looking to rent out a space for those of you coming from far and wide.

Getting Around- It is highly suggested that you avoid driving around Downtown Austin at all costs. Parking is and always has been a major cause of unwanted stress during the festival. Your best chance at getting around easily without having to pay or wait on a parking spot is to reserve a bike, or bring your own. Here is a great website for last minute bike rental deals specifically for the week of SXSW. Capital Metro, Austin’s public transportation provider, is another inexpensive way to get around. The train stops close to Auditorium Shores and hotels South of the river. If all else fails, there will be tons of PediCabs available to take you where you need to go. But if you can, avoid the extra spenditure.

Wandering without a Wristband

You’ve probably seen how expensive the official SXSW badges and wristbands are going for. So how can you enjoy one of the best music festivals in the U.S without paying out hundreds of dollars? SXSW is one of the best music festivals BECAUSE of this reason exactly. There are tons of unofficial shows that are taking place all over the city during the week of South By. But on the official schedule are plenty of shows that don’t require a badge or wristband. Here’s how to make the most out of your SXSW 2013 experience:

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Live
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis hit platinum this year with their single “Thriftshop” and have many music festivals lined up for this summer in addition to scheduled performances at SXSW 2013.


 What not to miss:

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Can’t Hold Em’

This duo has been taking over the charts, talk shows, and hip-hop conversation since the release of “The Heist” this past October. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis will be performing all over Austin for the festival (according to my SXSW iPhone App, at least seven shows!!), but one free event in particular is scheduled for Friday, March 15th at Clive Bar (609 Davis St.). Here is the link to the sponsors website where you can RSVP ahead of time. Space is limited, so my advice is to RSVP even if you don’t know for sure if you’ll be able to attend. Do this for as many shows as possible!

Local Natives: This is another show I plan on attending myself. Local Natives are set to perform at least four shows the week of the festival, but here is one during the day on Thursday, March 14th. Day shows typically allude to two things: free, and less people. Day parties are one of the best and most unique aspects of SXSW because they offer music and camaraderie to those with badges and those who are badge-less alike. Here is the RSVP page for this concert.

The Flaming Lips and Jim James: The Flaming Lips are veterans of the SXSW Music Festival and will mark a great return at the Town

The Flaming Lips at SXSW 2006
The Flaming Lips at SXSW 2006

Lake Stage at Auditorium Shores (a free venue) on Friday, March 15th. Opening for The Flaming Lips is Jim James, lead singer and guitarist of Louisville’s My Morning Jacket. This monster of folk recently released his first solo album titled “Regions of Light and Sound of God”. The show is free and gates open at 3:30.

I will be attending the festival from Thursday, March 14th- Sunday, March 17th. In addition to the shows listed above, I am planning on seeing the following:

Krewella + Wolfgang Gartner @ La Zona Rosa – March 14th, 11:30 PM

Tegan and Sara @ Austin Music Hall – March 15th, 12:15 AM

Vampire Weekend @ Radio Day Stage, Austin Convention Center – March 15th, 5 PM

With SXSW Just ONE WEEK Away

If you haven’t already, plan out your week. Make a schedule of everything you don’t want to miss, where it is, and when. Make sure you have back-ups planned for your night events because the crowds are typically larger and certain venues are almost impossible to get into past a certain time. Allow yourself time to get from one place to another when making your schedule. Above all, don’t limit yourself. There are endless opportunities the city of Austin gives during the week of South By.

6th St. during the week of SXSW 2012
6th St. during the week of SXSW 2012

Stay connected (Officially and Unofficially)

The Official SXSW 2013 Page and Mobile Application are useful for planning out your week, as well as staying updated to line-up additions, venue, and time changes. Other good resources for staying up to date with shows (as well as rumored shows) are Do512 and RSVPSter.

UNOFFICIALLY, SXSW has tons of free concerts that not only feature local artists, but bigger names as well. Here are the best resources for unofficial SXSW 2013 information that I found: Do It Free., Oh My Rockness, and the SXSW Unofficial Guide Facebook Page.

For more SXSW 2013 Festival news, band updates, and live coverage of the festival (by yours truly),

Follow TickPick on Twitter for future updates on the 2014 SXSW.

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