South by Southwest (SXSW) – an Annual Combo of Film, Interactive Media, and Music Festivals and Conferences!
South by Southwest or SXSW is one of Austin’s most popular indie festivals and tech shows!
Welcome to SXSW
In case you haven’t heard of it, SXSW is a music festival that focuses heavily on showcasing interactive practices within music and art while displaying the latest achievements in the worlds of technology and sound. SXSW got it’s start in 1987 and is still very much a growing festival. Each year, SXSW creates a stronger buzz surrounding its event and is quickly gaining popularity amongst art lovers, electronic music fans and technology aficionados.
The SXSW Festival was created as convention of sorts where festival goers can be exposed to all of the cutting edge multimedia art-forms that are new to the worlds of music production, live performance, and visual art.
Scheduling and Lineup of SXSW
While the extremely selective lineup for the SXSW Festival can be accessed through their website, the schedule will not be available until a few months before the event. At that time you can find the schedule on the festival’s website or on their Future Festival app.
Beginning each year in March, Further Future runs for about nine days with a select number of musicians, DJ’s and performers that play through the days and nights. This modern music festival features the likes of emerging artists, and well known alternative musicians.
Keep your eyes peeled for more artist information, as they still announce their line up later into the summer. The SXSW Festival does a good job of booking the best artists from everywhere around the world, so even if you haven’t heard of an artist, you’re in for a treat.
Traveling to Texas
Austin natives can skip this part, but if you’re flying into Texas for SXSW, there are a few things you need to know. SXSW already has on site accommodations at the fairground. If you are interested in staying nearby, there may be certain hotel and travel packages that might end up being the most affordable for people traveling into Austin.
Check their website out before booking anything so you make sure you get the best deal. To avoid driving, parking, or having to hire a car, many people use shuttles to travel to the festival itself from their hotels. This is probably the best idea as you will be exhausted at the end of each festival day.
The Showcases at SXSW
SXSW allows certain attendees with access codes to get a more exclusive experience of the festival. With the purchase of such a code, attendees will have access to all the showcases, but will need to get there early to guarantee admittance to some of the smaller stages as they may reach capacity fairly quickly.
Each musical performance at SXSW features an innovative collaborative performance that combines special lighting, avant garde video projections, and contemporary visual art to create an incredible multi-sensory experience.
The art showcases are specifically designed with the love of combining both visual art and live music in mind. Along with these stunning collaborative showcases, the SXSW Festival will feature more artwork in their Pop-Up Art gallery. This art show features work that have been handpicked by festival directors and their creative team.
My best tip to you on your SXSW Festival preparation would be to grab some headphones and make a playlist of all the artists that are scheduled this year. While it’s fun to stumble upon new acts and hear them for the first time in that moment, if you’re going to Further you will want to make sure you know at least a few of the artists.
Additionally, you’re going to want to plan your days out carefully. For those that are staying the entire week, put together a list of the activities, sites, and places you want to visit in your off time from the showcases just so you make the most out of your visit in the city.
When planning out your SXSW schedule, leave room for commuting to and from the venues. Note that the amount of time it takes to go from place to place may cut into the amount of time you have to arrive at the venue, so if you try to go to too many events, the venues may all reach capacity before you can get into any.
When going over your schedule, you’re also going to want to leave time for networking during the day and night; you never know who you’re going to meet during this whirlwind of a week!
What to Wear to SXSW
When deciding what to pack for your SXSW attire remember two things: You will be there in August and you will be in the mountains. This means that your outfits for the day will be summery shirts, dresses and shorts while the nighttime will call for heavier pants, jackets, hats, and several layers.
While temperatures may very well fall to the negatives during the night, you’ll forget all about that by midday the next afternoon. Stay prepared by keeping some extra layers in your backpack so you can adjust whenever necessary.
Small Stages, Local Bands and Late Night Shows
Glancing through SXSW list of bands may give you the idea that the festival only features big name bands. However, as well as featuring popular musicians, SXSW has an incredible lineup of new, smaller bands that are quickly gaining traction in the underground music world.
In addition to discovering new talent, hearing smaller bands at SXSWallows for a more personal experience. At these smaller stages, there are less people in the crowd, more areas for dancing, and better chances to get to know the artists in person.
If you are worried about going to SXSW and not knowing any of the bands playing—don’t worry! Before you head out to SXSW festival, make sure you listen to a few tracks of the performing artists and maybe even have a few new favorites to check out on the festival days.
The late night shows at SXSW are something of a hidden gem. Big named artists and smaller bands all have late night shows in some of the best local venues Austin has to offer. These shows are small, intimate, and one of Austin’s biggest treats.
When it Comes to Heat—Don’t Mess With Texas
It is true what they say about how hot Texas is! Do not make the mistake of being underprepared for the weather at SXSW. Dress for hot and humid weather; bring a hat and sunblock for the sun.
Dehydration does happen often at festivals—especially in Texas. Weeks before SXSW, it is important to make sure you are hydrating yourself well to prepare for the festival. During the festival, definitely take a water bottle with you, preferably a reusable one. Along with a water bottle, festival fans often swear by water packs in order to stay happy and hydrated. In order to make the most of the water, keep the alcohol and caffeine beverages to a minimum.
Keep Austin Weird!
Austin is a city with its own unique quirks, artsy hangouts, and weird landmarks that are just waiting to be explored. While you’re in town for SXSW, make it a point to explore the rest of the city.
When exploring the neighborhoods around SXSW, you’re going to want to make it a point to go on the Austin Duck Tour, travel to the historic venue SXSW, take a dip in the Barton Springs Pool, and view the Bats of the Congress Avenue Bridge. In addition to these tourist sites, you will want to visit Austin’s best bars, dance venues and iconic restaurants.
Festival Safety First
While having fun at SXSW, it is always necessary to stay on top of your surroundings. Have a buddy system wherever you go and have a plan in case someone gets injured, lost, or has an emergency. Determine a meeting place and meeting time with your group of friends in order for everyone to be able to find each other in case cell phones die or lose signal. Always keep identification, money, and a phone charger with you, in case of an emergency.
In addition to staying safe at SXSW, it is important to keep track of the scheduling changes at the festival. SXSW has a phone app that updates immediately with any new information. Having the phone app will keep you aware if any bands drop out, shows get cancelled, and the other unforeseen circumstances. Festival apps also have a handy map with all the amenities and band information enclosed.
So whether you are a Texas native or coming from states away, SXSW Music Festival is definitely worth traveling to!
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