FT5: SXSW Myths

0313top5coverWhen surfing the ol’ interwebs around this time of year I find all kinds of posts about our famous little SXSW festival that goes on every March. Lucky for me, I chose a career in education so I get to spend the whole week wasting my life away and killing precious brain cells with loud music and alcohol. It seems like every year I come across a music fan or two who really wants to be a part of this party but just doesn’t know where to begin. Do I need to drop the cash on one of those wristband thingies? Do I need tickets? Ladies and gentlemen, I’ll answer those questions and more in our Friday Top 5 focusing on the top myths about SXSW.  Follow the jump to read the full list.

bignames5. You’ll get to see the big names

Get this thought out of your head right now. It’s not gonna happen. Sure everybody’s got that story about that one time this guy they know who has a friend who works at Stubbs got you in to see Iggy Pop last year. Those stories are few and far between or just flat out made up. I know everybody got all excited and started peeing their pants when Devo was said to headline SXSW, but so what? If you plan on getting into that show you’ll need to know someone or get in line now.  Yes now… GO!

wristbands4. Buying a wrist band is a good idea

Holy shit, they just dropped the price of these to $150 and they’re only available to Austin residents! Seriously, how are people still falling for this scam? A wristband is not a ticket and it sure as hell doesn’t guarantee your entrance into any venue. Every d-bag holding a platinum badge will waltz right in ahead of you and you’ll be left wondering why you bought that worthless piece of plastic. My RSVP parties obviously don’t guarantee admission either, but they’ve never been that hard to get into and my wallet is heavier than yours as a result. If you are considering buying a wrist band, please don’t.  Please.  I beg of you.

badges3.  Buying a badge is an even better idea

Okay so I shouldn’t get a wristband, but how about one of those fancy laminated badges with my name on it and whatnot? Many of you probably know that’ll run you more than any dollar amount I can even fathom in my head. I’m sure you’ve heard about how much of a steal $700/$800 dollars is to see so many bands in a week. A steal?  Really…. Save your money. Even if you are filthy stinking rich, you’ve got to realize that this is a bad investment. Sit down and do the math real quick on how many bands you can actually see in a week. For some of you this is a no brainer, but for you not in the know, save that paycheck.

crowds2. It’s not worth the hassle

Every now and again you hear a few Austinites mumbling about how going to SXSW is too much work. You’ve got nowhere to park, so many out of towners running around, everything is so packed, or it’s just a big headache. Here’s a message to you people that complain: you live in Austin, the live music capital of the world. Without SXSW and similar events, this town would be just another suburban dump.  Besides, you’ve got the internet and people like us to help you. Park at a friends place, make friends with the newbies and just relax.

sxswlogo1. It’s the best music festival

So I’m fearing that this is the one that everybody is going to get all up in arms about. For me, SXSW is not and never will be the best music festival around. Don’t get me wrong, I love partying and checking out new bands till the cows come home, but sometimes it’s not always about the music to me. SXSW sort of becomes this all day/all night party that gives people a place to be seen and live hard. I’d rather have my ACL (yes it’s hot as hell, but it’s in October this year) or my Fun Fest. Those festivals always put the primary focus on what the focus should be: music. I still love you SXSW.

So yes you can forget about getting into that Metallica show, aint gonna happen.  I tried to be fair but maybe I wasn’t.  Maybe I use question marks way too much?


  • What? ACL is better than SXSW? I love you Ryan but you’ve chosen darkness! The die hards of SXSW understand its about the music, while the diehards of ACL go for the drunkeness. I cannot, as a drinker, promote the drunkeness over the music. And hippies…there are loads of hippies at ACL.

  • I am a die hard of ACL and I do not go to get drunk. Getting drunk at ACL would cost you a fortune. You really gonna tell me you won’t be drunk every night next week?

    I’ll take hippies over scenesters anyday

  • Ya, I’m going to have to disagree with you on that one Nathan. I mean, really… most free shows at SXSW promote some kind of free booze. And last I checked, ACL Fest doesn’t give out free booze. Getting plastered at ACL in that heat is a death wish, while getting drunk downtown? Sounds like business as usual.

    If anything, I’d say SXSW is the week-long drunkfest (at least for you kids that don’t have to work that week).

  • No way…you are both wrong wrong wrong. Hippies are gross. People tanning and drinking and playing hackey sack while listening to Raconteurs play ACL for the fifth time.

    I will see more GOOD bands in one day at SXSW than they offer at the entire ACL line-up. And, I can breathe after it’s all done without coughing up mud.

    And who says I will drink during SXSW? Im straightedge.

  • So how in the hell do people see shows at SXSW? From what your telling me I shouldn’t show up unless your some industry insider or I’m handing out Red Bull.

  • Yeah free/RSVP parties are the way to go. I probably should have mentioned that in the post.

  • I’ll take scenesters over hippies in the third round, but not after a powerful patchouli blast nearly takes scenesters out in the second. Ultimately, hippies just don’t have the follow-through.

  • Top 5 Reasons SXSW is better than ACL

    1) Free Merch. Free Swag. Free Stickers. Free food and bev. I drank Sweet Leaf Tea until I puked last year.

    2) No dust storms or sand-boogers.

    3) All the frat/sorority people are at the beach.

    4) You’re not stranded in the middle of Zilker under the scorching sun, left to fend for yourself or submit to the price-gouging merchants.

    5) ACL is only a festival. SXSW IS A LIFESTYLE. What better than to spend an entire week wandering a frat-free downtown Austin with free merch in my sticker/pin-covered backpack and a tasty Fuze in my hand while I enjoy the crisp spring air.

  • Oh, and #6…..The ATH SXSW Guide is $$$$$

  • nice job on the SXSW guide.
    and i’m definitely keeping the food guide in mind for my next trip down there. have fun at SXSW next week. i’m jealous.

  • Why does everyone hate scenesters? Admittedly, they’re usually overdressed and lacking in social skills, but at least they keep to themselves. I’ve never had a bad run-in with a scenester. Whereas hippies are always trying to sell me their bill of goods: why I should stop doing this or start doing that. And you can smell hippies from like 15 feet away.

  • So, can I get in to see Frodus or not? Tell me that ATH!

  • Ray Ray.

    Stop smoking crack. To even put ACL and SXSW in the same sentence is wrong to begin with. They’re just not comparable events.

    ACL is for mostly big bands and the masses. I love it for what it is, but half the people there aren’t even watching/listening to the music– they’re too busy sleeping in their folding chairs and getting sunburned and drunk. I could go on and on…

    SXSW is not really a music festival. It is an event created mostly for music industry people and unlike any other in the world. It is the type of event where you can find yourself in the audience with the lead singer of the band you saw the night before, or moving your head to dodge the guitar of the guy playing on stage. The venue’s are as intimate as you can get. And the audiences, as hipster and ridiculous as they may be, are actually into the music and the scene.

    Also, you do have to keep in mind the different experiences at the official shows and at some of the free/RSVP parties. It is not across the board, but after years of attending both, I’ve noticed that the shows and atmosphere at the free parties can sometimes be lacking compared to the official SXSW shows. (Full disclosure – I get spoiled with a badge, which I do not recommend buying with your own money)

    Just my two cents…

  • You are crazy to say ACL is better! Who wants to be trapped like livestock in the sun and shit when you could be running around seeing all sorts of new bands, drinking whatever fine brew you want, and using an actual toilet. SXSW is so great because of the endless variety and new people/bands from all over the world. And free parties! An ACL fest when you total up the cost of a wristband & overpriced beer & overpriced food is a LOT more expensive than all the free stuff in town.

  • I think we have come to the conclusion that the two are far too different to even be compared at this point.

    Thanks for the comment Lazy Smurf

  • I bought a wristband for the first time last year and I couldn’t have made a better decision. Every show I wanted to see (including big ones – Devo, Andrew Bird, Beach House/Grizzly Bear, M.Ward/Dept. of Eagles/St. Vincent) were all easy to get in to w/ minimal extra time commitments. In fact, I walked right into the Devo show w/ the wristband. Plus, it gave the freedom to get away from the crazy busy free shows during the day and see a lot of great stuff w/ thinner crowds.

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