How to Do SXSW, Without a Badge

By Maria-Karmina

Did you miss out on this year's SXSW in Austin, Texas? We have some of the best highlights, if you check our Instagram, our recap will make you feel like you were there.

The future of the internet was frequently discussed at several events, especially in light of the fake news frenzy and increased hacking.

But first let’s define what “SXSW” is; it’s slang for “South-By-Southwest.” At South by Southwest, a music lover is the ultimate target market. We presumed early adopters and tastemakers have been inundated not just with music, but also with whatever – through research or, just as likely, free-association – the marketers happen to think we’ll tout to friends after the convention ends.

At the many day parties, there are ostentatiously branded, generously poured wine, beer and (mostly sweet) hard liquor to stupefy us. Out on 6th street (the place where everyone goes to party), people in trucks hand out energy drinks to wake us back up. There are red-eye remedies and breath mints, and whole forests worth of glossy fashion and music magazines. T-shirts touting websites and record companies abound and one daytime showcase handed out running shoes to early arrivals.

The ritual for most, if not all, was to wake up red-eyed, download some songs, research each artist you were about to see, pull on a comfortable T-shirt, lace up some comfy walking shoes, knock back an energy drink and check the latest fashion trends -- until it’s time to pour something sweet of an alcoholic beverage, strong enough to guarantee a hangover.
Sure, that’s the wildlife adventures of myself and many others in the midst of SXSW. Tastemaking can be so grueling, I know.

Want to know the real secret to SXSW? RSVP to as many parties as you possibly can. Not only will you be able to enjoy free music by new and mainstream artists, but usually the event will be serving horderves (fancy finger food) – but if you’re lucky, an open bar can also be found in the corner of the room. One of the most comfortable places to hear music at SXSW was “the Fort,” the paved courtyard of what was previously a youth center in a prime downtown location.

The final official day of SXSW often has one reflecting on the past week and the event as a whole with the brain cells left. Before getting into any of the music (there was plenty), here are some thoughts about this year’s SXSW. For starters, compared to the previous few years, 2017 found smaller crowds and specifically fewer spring breakers. This may have been due to a toned down presence of corporate sponsors and a lack of mega-headliners that have dominated press coverage of the festival in years past – sorry Garth, but the teenyboppers could care less. As a result of these factors, day parties and official showcases felt less crowded, lines were smaller, and getting around was easier. To sum it up, there’s a feeling amongst some that the SXSW bubble has finally burst and now the festival is making a slow return to its roots. And if we’re talking about roots, then we’re talking about the eclectic mix of smaller acts who make major sacrifices for the chance to play the festival. Saturday is considered the final day of SXSW, and yet, the spirit was in full swing where bands and fans sought to close out this year’s edition with a bang.

Here’s the rad part of this entire two-week stint. South by Southwest has always been a festival with a heart of twang. When SXSW began in 1987, it was a showcase for the local music that had been overlooked by a music business based in Los Angeles, New York City and Nashville, and that meant a lot of Texas honky-tonk roots. Compared to its fall counterpart, the CMJ Music Marathon held in New York City, South by Southwest is still a haven for music that got its own genre classifications in the 1990's: alt-country and Americana. And unlike much of the music business, this festival is hospitable to musicians with wrinkles and gray hair.