I think it’s safe to say that SXSW is a like the great pilgrimage to mecca, but the pilgrims are musicians and music fans, and mecca is 6th street in downtown Austin, TX. As we sat at a bar in SFO, waiting to board our flight, we met a young girl equally as tired and excited as we were to share our flight full of musicians and industry professionals, and join the madness that was scheduled to begin hours before we landed. We quickly found out that, unlike us, this was not her first time going and she had a ton of advice, stories and food truck suggestions that we were eager to listen.
For those of you who have never been, SXSW is basically split up into two huge events. There’s the main SXSW event that is super exclusive, costs, like, a million dollars to be a part of and is held at the convention center. Then there’s the other event, which is held throughout the town, but mainly on 6th street, which they close off for safety, and includes every bar and restaurant for what seems like a 5 mile radius. Entry to this is free, and trust me it’s where you want to be anyway.
There isn’t a single time of the day where the streets and bars aren’t filled with tons of people all waiting to hear awesome music, maybe witness the beginning stages of “the next big thing,” or possibly meet a celebrity or two. So, if loud noises and large crowds give you anxiety, SXSW isn’t for you. For the rest of you, SXSW is an experience you will never forget. Unless you find yourself having too much fun at the bars, in which case, you might forget. But that’s totally ok. Because that’s the beauty of SXSW and a big part of the reason “keep Austin weird” t-shirts exist.
For all you musicians planning on making the trip, SXSW is a great place to gain exposure and get your music heard. The venues and music fans are all excited to hear you and see what you have to offer. You’re provided most of the gear you would need to have an awesome show, but be sure you do your research because, as we learned the hard way, not every venue offers you everything you need to play. You can’t imagine how stressful it is to be far from home, where the only people you know are your band and the people you met at your shows, and then the sound guy tells you that you were required to bring a kick drum pedal that you just so happened to leave at home. Thankfully for us, all those stories had happy endings. Yes, it happened more than once.
If I could offer some advice to future SXSW go-ers, I would say, wear comfortable shoes, bring a phone charger with you EVERYWHERE, drink lots of water and whatever you do, no matter how tired you are, DO NOT over do it on vodka-redbulls. This can only end badly. Yes, I learned this the hard way also. But all in all, SXSW is awesome and unlike anything else. It’s like a tattoo really, you do it once and chances are you’ll be addicted. With that being said, I can’t wait to go back and play again next year.
P.S. I wanted to leave you with some artists we saw and really enjoyed that I think you all should check out. That said, here are…
Bands We Saw And Recommend
Lost In Los Angeles
Bristol To Memory
The Trash Pop Icons are a high-energy pop-rock trio fronted by sister Nadia and Naomi Zep. Loud, fast, and most definitely danceable, The Trash Pop Icons have made a name for themselves in the NorCal area, including winning the first ever Whole Foods Market and VH! ‘Raw And Unprocessed’ Team Member Music Project in 2012. You can check out the winning video/song below.
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