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Community Effort: What is your SXSW Strategy?

February 23, 2010

Alright kids.  It’s getting hairy out there.  And no, it’s not the weather…I’m talking about SXSW 2010.  There are dozens of places online where you can submit your RSVPs, plan your schedule, or see what’s going on, but even experienced SXSW-goers can be overwhelmed by the sheer number of events going on at the same time.  On any given day of the festival, there are at least a half-dozen places to get sloshed, fed, and entertained for free, and you’re guaranteed to have a good time at the vast majority of them.

There’s no right or wrong way to do SXSW, and it’s impossible to see and do everything – no one will see every buzzworthy band, drink top-shelf booze the whole week, or walk away with primo swag from every event.  BUT, there are going to be priceless moments everywhere you turn, including on the street right in front of you, and you almost certainly will see great bands, drink something fabulous and eat enough free food to coat your stomach in preparation for more free booze.

So, let’s tag-team this shizz.  What is your strategy for SXSW?  Are you a party-snob, willing to wait in long lines for the hippest of brand names with the coolest of bands and the best booze?  Are you a chronic RSVP-er with 6 parties on your schedule for each day, ready to test your luck?  Or, are you Badge-less and Wristband-less, just looking for a bus to get downtown so you can get crunk and not caring what you see?  Share your SXSW strategy in the comments!

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Cram permalink
    February 24, 2010 3:00 pm

    I generally just pick a party or two per day that have a good venue and a good lineup with one or two bands I definitely want to see and a decent supporting cast. I’m willing to forgo seeing EVERY band I want to see on a given day if I can see 2 I know I want to see at the same place- cuts down on the stress/hassle of running around and, quite often, I wind up seeing some bands I’ve never heard of that are awesome.

    Plus, if I just stick to one party all day, it means that I don’t waste 30 minutes or more on ANOTHER line which means seeing at least one more band that day!

    • February 24, 2010 3:13 pm

      Excellent strategy! That’s what I think I’m going to do too, although the abundance of parties kinda makes me want to go ADD and run in and out of venues all night, so I’m making no commitments yet…

      One issue I’ve been thinking about is how to get from 6th to the east side quickly/safely because there are some awesome events happening down there too.

      • Cram permalink
        February 24, 2010 3:26 pm

        I think it was 4 years ago now that I learned my lesson on that- I was at the Yard Dog for the Schubas party and then tried to get back downtown for other parties. Instead, I spent close to an hour crawling up South Congress and through Downtown traffic.

        Way better off just concentrating my efforts daily on one venue/area. If I’m at Mohawk, I’m staying at the Mohawk/Deville nexus. If I’m at Emo’s, I’m staying in that area. And if I’m east, I’m staying east.

        I don’t even want to walk from Mohawk to Emo’s half the time, because it just makes me see huge lines and realize life was better when I was still at Mohawk drinking cold beer.

  2. seanningham permalink*
    February 24, 2010 3:40 pm

    Planning is key, but knowing that you won’t be able to stick to it is even more important. Know what you want to see, know when and where it’s happening, and then go where the wind takes you.

    As for me and AGMG, it’s time to bust out the posterboard scheduling matrix …

    • February 24, 2010 3:45 pm

      Yes, it’s time for ADD and OCD to converge into one enormous vague, but well-thought out plan.

      • February 24, 2010 3:51 pm

        Alright, here’s some new questions.

        What time do you try to be downtown during SXSW? And how do you balance being hungover with getting up at a decent hour?

        What parties do you definitely not want to miss?

  3. February 24, 2010 4:48 pm

    I was offered a discounted wristband…but I think I am going without. I have created a group on Facebook called RSVPeople where I have gathered RSVP party links from various sources, and share with those who want them. Last year I RSVP’d to EVERYTHING and that way I knew I was on every list at every party. Easy. Got great swag bags, free booze, and free music. I also had a wristband last year. My plan this year? I have no idea. I guess same way of attacking RSVP’s and working my way in to others. I am not going to be working like last year, so I wanna have fun. Check out,, and for schedules of parties and suggestions! I may make a post too on

    Join RSVpeople:

    • February 24, 2010 5:02 pm

      Aw, chronic RSVP-ing! I’ve done a lot of that as well this year. Did you find that people were actually checking lists? In my experience, RSVP lists are always a pain and make the lines really long.

      Last year, we talked/snuck our way into a bunch of badge-only events (shhh…) but this year, I’m doing coverage so I actually have a badge. Anyone have any badge vs. non-badge stories?

  4. Cram permalink
    February 25, 2010 1:27 pm

    Since I can walk out my front door and fall into tents at the convention center, I am usually at a party downtown no later than 1pm. I’ve often been on a line before noon, so I can get the all important free can of Lonestar to remove my hangover.

    And, the past 3 or 4 years I’ve had a badge.. but this year I decided to go back to the Wristband, only because none of the bigger bands (or buzz bands) really are my thing. I don’t really care about seeing The XX, Spoon, or whomever else there will be a huge line for this year. Other than seeing Band of Horses in the church, I couldn’t find a single night show that – if I were to miss it because of the line – I’d really be upset about. If anything, going back to the wristband will force me to see bands no one has ever heard of (see: My Morning Jacket at their first ever SXSW, the Frames performing to 30 people, etc).

    • February 25, 2010 2:11 pm

      Combating hangover with more booze. Hmm…simple, yet effective.

      I’m with you on the buzzworthy bands. I’d like to see at least a few of them, but I’m more concerned about not being irritated by really long lines and enormous crowds. Like you said, you’ll definitely get to hear great bands performing to practically no one no matter where you end up each night.

      • Cram permalink
        February 25, 2010 2:16 pm

        One of the benefits of hosting your own party yearly is that it forces you to listen to dozens (if not hundreds) of bands that are playing the festival while trying to fill the last few slots. Between agents/reps/bands contacting me directly and scouring the official sxsw list over the past few months, I’ve discovered about 20 bands that I’ve never even heard of before.. and can’t seem to find anyone really talking about as “must see bands”. Instead of just going to see the bands that will back through town over the next year, I’m more interested in seeing those one off shows by bands that might not exist in a year (or who certainly won’t travel to Austin until next SXSW).

        I usually have a list of 3 or 4 bands per slot at night that I optimize around. If I get to venue A and there’s a line, I just move on to venue B. Worst case, I go to a club like Emo’s where I know I won’t have to pay the SXSW price for Lonestar because they recognize my face.

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