Photo: Nicole Mago
By this point you’ve probably seen about 38 lists of the best bands to check out at SXSW… and you aren’t on any of them. And you’ve read 37 opinion pieces about the conference and why it sucks to go… and you made plans months ago to be down there. Well, all is not lost - you can still get something out of the behemoth known as SXSW.
Don’t just hang out with your friends; plan to see bands you don’t know. We’re big fans of making a plan here (if you haven’t noticed), so it’s no surprise that we’re saying a little pre-planning here can go a long way. SXSW is overwhelming and daunting, so it’s easy to cocoon yourself into your little nest of friends. All I’m asking is that you make an effort to go see a few bands of similar size/genre. One of the main points of SX is to make new connections and saying hello to a band after a great set is a good start. Also, I want to see Ryan Adams as much as the next gal, but I’m not going to fill my schedule up with people that can already fill theaters.
Pick a few relevant panels. I know you feel lame going to listen to people talk, but these things aren’t just for folks on the business side! Most of the panelist are super accessible after they speak, so this might be a great time to say hi to someone you’ve been wanting to get intro’d to. Plus, there’s a reason a lot of the people are speaking -- they’ve got some great info to share (PS - go see Ron talk on a panel on Thursday, 3/17 -- “Transforming online popularity to offline success”)
Fill your schedule, but try to have some time off. Running around like a crazy person is part of SX, but there is something to be said for just grabbing a beer with a friend (old or new) and taking a break from the madness.
Go to the flat stock exhibition. I can’t say enough how cool this is. You know all of those rad tour posters you are jealous that you don’t have? Tons of those designers showcase here. Go see them and grab their cards! Maybe you can BE one of those people with a rad tour poster next time.
Understand that your showcase is more than likely going to sound like crap. Newsflash - unless you are in a real music venue (and sometimes even if you are) you’re going to deal with less than stellar sound. And you can’t do much about it. You’ll get a line check and you won’t be able to hear yourself 90% of the time. Don’t stress - just do your best and realize that everyone is in the same boat as you are.
Get the free shit. If all else fails, make sure to get all of the free swag they’re giving out. If you don’t get the Jansport backpack, did you really go to SX? Last year, the showcase I threw gave away free BBQ sandwiches & beard products (recap: The Brooklyn Basement). Fill that free tote bag up with crap you probably don’t need, but will make you feel a little bit better about making the trek down.
Bottom line - have fun, don’t stress yourself out too much, and try to make some new friends. Happy SXSW, everyone! Whether you like it or not, it’s hereeeeee!
REASON TO IGNORE THIS ADVICE: You are Ryan Adams.