Saturday, March 8, 2014

SXSW 2014 Film: Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton (This is Stones Throw Records)

I'm a total sucker for music biographies both fictionalized and documentaries. I'm also a big fan of turn of the century Stones Throw records. So, when I saw that there was going to be a music documentary about Stones Throw at SXSW I made it a top priority.

Lots of times music documentaries can feel like a television show, with the bad voice-overs and the cheesy, dramatic music. This film was nothing like that. It was very consciously put together to reveal a story, complete with Prologue and Chapter titles. There was no voice over and the music supervision was done by Madlib. Also, the title sequence and all of the on-screen graphics were beautiful and completely in-line with the Stones Throw brand.

Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton - Trailer video via YouTube

The problems with this film are the same problems you'll find with any label-sanctioned documentary. There are stories that are left under the surface, without a lot of exploration and there are some topics treated with kid gloves. In other words, it's not the most objective documentary you'll ever see but there are some really great stories.

It goes without saying but the soundtrack to this movie is killer. Not only do I want to go grab it on vinyl right now, I want to go crate digging for some of the amazing early releases featured in the film. I give this film a solid "B". It was interesting, it looked great and it sounded great. To earn an "A" I want interviews with ALL of the label's founders and I want to hear the dirt on Aloe Blacc.

This film screens twice more during SXSW. Check the official listing for more details. Also, next Saturday night the Official Stones Throw Records Showcase is happening at the ND so you can see a grip of the artists featured in this film all on one stage.

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Friday, March 7, 2014

SXSW 2014 Film: She's Lost Control

This evening I did my first official thing of SXSW, which is to see the film She's Lost Control. This evening was the N. American premiere of the film, which made it's International debut at the Berlin Film Festival. The film's lead character is a sex surrogate. She works with a therapist that deals with men who have various issues with sexual intimacy. The majority of the film is focused on her interactions with one particular client but there is certainly more to the film than that one relationship.

Dealing with themes of control and intimacy we watch what a person will put themselves through under the guise of protecting themselves. She's Lost Control is definitely a festival film, which to me means it takes some time to draw the story out but I felt the performances and the subject matter were strong enough to balance out any issues I might have had with the film's pacing. Overall, I give this film a B+.

Tonight's screening was just the first of four for She's Lost Control and it wouldn't surprise me if this film took home some awards at the end of the festival. If you're in Austin from out of town you're best bet at catching this film is the Thursday, 4pm screening at the Alamo Ritz.

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SXSW 2014 Preview

"Oh my God, is this the line?"

"Where's the end of this line?"

"This line is SOOO long!"

"Is this the VIP line?"

"Are you a VIP? I'm supposed to be in the VIP line?"

"My name should be on the list!"

"I have an email telling me I'm on the VIP list!"

"What is taking so long?!"

"Is this an RSVP party?"

"Do you know what we're standing in line for?"

"Is this the bathroom line or the drink line?"

"What's the free liquor here?"

"Oh my God! You look just like my friend! You don't know him but you look just like him!"

"What does THAT wristband mean?"

"Oh, I saw them play for like 20 people two years ago."

"Ugggh, this used to be so much cooler!"

"All they have left is the bean burritos! What the fuck?!?"

"This place is lame."

"These people are lame."

"This band is lame."






"Who else has free beer?"

"It's so hot!"

"It's so cold!"

"What's the hashtag for this party?"

"Did you get in to Rachel Ray? The food was so good!"

"Did you get in to Lady Gaga?"

"Where do we get free Doritos?"

"Pro Tip."

"I'm a pro."

"Trust me, I've been coming here for years."

"$6 Lone Stars? That's ridiculous! I live here! You should have separate prices for locals!"

"They should have separate entrances for locals."

"I'm not cutting, my friend was holding this spot."

"Why is this line moving so slow!?"

"Ugggh! I hate hipsters!"

"Fucking hipsters!"

"Hipsters are ruining SXSW!"

"Iron Works is the best BBQ in Austin!"

"I love the sound of the banjo!"

"I want to learn to play the banjo!"

"That banjo player is so cute!"

"I was going to see this metal band from Myanmar but I got tickets to see Jimmy Kimmel. Snoop Dogg is going to be there!"

"Is it Snoop Dogg now or Snoop Lion?"

"I'm so tired!"

"I'm so hungry!"

"Where are we going?!?"

"Do you have a lighter?"

"Shiner Bock. Is that local?"

"What do you have that's local?"

"Do you have draft beer?"

"What's good? What do the locals get?"

"What's a cool, out-of-the-way place that only locals know about?"

"What's your Twitter?"

"I don't think I have a QR thingy?"

"Do you have a charger?"

"I need to find an outlet!"

"What's the Wi-Fi key?"

"Where's the afterparty?"

"Where's the after-afterparty?"

"Who's the surprise guest at the Fader Fort?"

"How do I get tickets to the Samsung party?"

"Where is Kelis' taco truck?"

"Where can I sit down?"

"Is that too far to walk?"

"How do we get a cab?"

"Do you have a number for a cab?"

"How long ago did you call the cab?!"

"Why won't these cabs stop for us?!?"

"You can't pee behind that dumpster!"

"You can't pee in that alley!"

"You can't pee on that building!"

"Have you seen BAND X yet?!?! They are so good! I think they're playing again, you HAVE to see them!"

"Are you going to Fader this year?"

"Have you been to Fader yet?"

"I got my Fader wristband but I don't know if I'm going to go this year."

"Fader is such a clusterfuck this year, it used to be so much cooler."

"Fader was better when it was west of 35."

"Remember when Kanye played Fader?"

"Remember when Kanye played the power plant?"

"Remember when Prince played at La Zona?"

"Remember when Justin Timberlake was here?"

"Remember when Snoop Dogg was here?"

"Ever notice how that one Lady Gaga song, sounds kind of like that one Madonna song?"

"SXSW was better before."

"I hate Rainey St."

"I hate Dirty 6th."

"I hate the eastside."

"The sound here sucks."

"This venue sucks."

"This free event sucks."

"This band is boring."

"I don't see what all the hype is about."

"Sounds like The Strokes."

"Sounds like Gang of Four."

"Sounds like The Stooges."

"Jumped the shark."

"Andy Langer's Facebook post."

"I saw on Twitter that the line is short over there and they have free Bloody Marys."

"Red Bull."


"I don't know, someone just handed it to me while I was walking down the street and now I'm ingesting it. It's ok. I probably wouldn't buy it but I'm hungry/thirsty now so..."

"It's free, you just have to tweet about it."

"It's free, you just have to download the app."

"It's free, you just have to give them your e-mail address."

"It's free, you just have to pledge your allegiance to a bag of Funyons."

"It's free, you just walk a block in that direction."

"It's free, you just have to like them on Facebook."

"I just drove here with no plan of attack and no place to stay."

"My friend's lodging fell through and he needs a place to stay, do you know of any cheap places near downtown?"

"My girlfriend and I are thinking about moving here."

"My boyfriend and I are thinking about moving here."

"Well, I'm from L.A. and in L.A...."

"Well in Brooklyn..."

"Do they have ______ in Austin?"

"OMG, THEY DON'T HAVE ______ IN AUSTIN!?!?! _______ is HUGE in San Francisco. I can't believe you don't have _______."

"I thought everyone would be wearing cowboy hats."

"Do people here like Rick Perry?"

"How long does it take to get to Salt Lick?"

"Nope, I missed it."

"Nope, I was in line outside."

"Nope, I didn't hear about it until today."

"So bummed I wasn't there."

"I saw that on Instagram."

"I saw that on Twitter."

"Who have you seen so far?"

"Where are you coming from?"

"Where should I go tonight?"

"Who's going to be there?"

"Who's playing?"

"I don't know, my phone is dead."

"I don't know, I lost my phone."

"I don't know, I don't have any reception."

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SXSW 2014 Preview: SW/MM/NG

Each single SW/MM/NG released last year was better than the last and I liked the first one. The band has been around for several years releasing demos, singles and EPs but they only hit my radar in the fall of last year. With a touch of garage, a dash of psychedelia and enough melody to be a pop band this band will jangle their way into your cold, black heart if you let them. It doesn't look like you'll have too many opportunities to see SW/MM/NG at SXSW but the band is based in Fayettville, which leads me to believe they'll be coming back through Austin several times this year. If I lived in Fayettville I think I would try to be on tour at least 300 days a year.

SW/MM/NG - Some Dreams Come True video via YouTube

Did I say a few chances to catch SW/MM/NG? Well, it looks like there is actually only one and that's their official showcase. If you don't have official SXSW credentials, don't fret. SW/MM/NG's showcase is at Valhalla, which is quite large and I expect the cover will only be around $10 if you don't have official credentials. You can find the full line-up on the Old Flame & Bar/None Records Official SXSW Showcase presented by Revolution Songs Event Page.

Spotify Playlists

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Doritos Doesn't Present: Saint Pepsi

SXSW film and interactive both start tomorrow, which means today is the unofficial start of the madness. Traffic is starting to thicken and the badge-selfies abound. Social media is abuzz today with the "news" of Lady Gaga appearing inside a 3-dimensional Dooreatoh covered in Stubb's legendary BBQ sauce. You may choose to point your attention at that glorious spectacle on the Thursday evening of SXSW Music or you could check out the Carpark Records showcase. Who knows, one of the artists you see at The Parish Underground Thursday night could be playing from the Takis stage in Stubb's Waller Riverwalk Amphidome at SXSW 2016, at which point you can roll your eyes and be like "Uggh! I hate what SXSW has become. It's like, so corporatized. What's the Snapchat for this party? I want Saint Pepsi to see my privates for 2 seconds. #PepsiStTakis" Or something.

If you have a badge or wristband for SXSW it shouldn't be too difficult to get into this showcase, if you're planning to hop around give yourself a 20 minute pre-set time cushion to anticipate standing in line after 10pm. Part of the reason I'm recommending this particular showcase is for my cash-line people. I expect the cover for this showcase to be around the $10 mark, which is pretty amazing considering you'll get to hear seven incredibly diverse acts in one place.

8pm Saint Pepsi (New York)

8:50pm Greys (Toronto, ON)

9:40pm GRMLN (Los Angeles, CA)

10:30pm Young Magic (New York)

11:20pm TEEN (NYC, NY)

12:10am Speedy Ortiz (Northampton, MA)

1:00am Cloud Nothings (Cleveland, OH)

My reasoning for highlighting Saint Pepsi, specifically in this post is because the whole Pepsi thing, worked with the whole Dorito thing I was trying to work. But also, I really genuinely love every single original track and remix I have heard from this artist. If you can't make it to the Parish Underground for the Carpark Records Showcase, you can also catch Saint Pepsi at the following times and places. It's possible that the saint will be playing more events than three mentioned in this post but that's what I found, so that's what I'm sharing with you.

  • Friday, March 14th | Flatstock Stage | Austin Convention Center Exhibit Hall 4 | 1:40pm
  • Friday, March 14th | Kitsune SXSW Showcase | The Madison | 1:00am

Spotify Playlists

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

SXSW Preview: Solids

I'm sticking with the Canadian band theme today. I didn't know Solids were from Canada when I fell in love with their record. That seems to be a recurring theme in my life. If you're looking for a visceral rock experience then you need to pick up the band's album Blame Confusion and proceed to pogo in your living room. It's like unearthing an early 90's college rock record that would fit perfectly in a set with Yo La Tengo or Dinosaur Jr.

I have yet to see Solids in-person but I am particularly excited for that opportunity. The amount of energy they managed to commit to tape for their recordings is incredible and I have a feeling it's going to be all the more impressive in a live setting.

Solids - Haze Away video via YouTube

I feel like I don't really have a gage for how much buzz this band has because I'm so enamored with them myself. In my mind, they are one of the most sought-after acts of the festival but upon further inspection it looks like they have two unofficial gigs and one official gig.

Solids' official showcase is at Maggie Mae's on Thursday the 13th. The band goes on at midnight, right after No Joy as part of the M for Montreal showcase. I'm kind of surprised that they're not playing a Fat Possum showcase but for all I know, that's not a thing.

The unofficial events where you'll find Solids are both seriously kick-ass. Thursday during the day they play The Midgetmen's Jumpstart Texas at Side Bar. Their set at Side Bar will be followed by sets from Speedy Ortiz and Diarrhea Planet so, yeah this party is worth looking into. Click the link to RSVP.

The only other shot at catching Solids during SXSW 2014 is the Exploding in Sound Records party on Friday up at Hole in the Wall. This party is north of downtown so, you'll kind of have to commit to it for several hours but there are lots of great bands on the bill. Check here for the full line-up.

Spotify Playlists

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SXSW 2014 Preview: Seoul

For all of the artists I'm featuring in these individual posts this year, I fell in love with them blindly. That's not to say that all of these artists are "unknown" but they were largely unknown to me before I started listening to samples from all of the artists on the official SXSW showcasing artist listings. Just like last year, I ended up falling in love with a lot of Canadians. Maybe it's because I'm originally from Maine but apparently I'm drawn to sounds produced in Canada.

Montreal band Seoul describe themselves as " ambient-pop aggregate..." and who am I to disagree with them? You won't find their music on any of my Spotify playlists, as they do not have any songs on Spotify. I know, it's shocking but don't worry you lovers of streaming music you can still hear Stay With Us on Soundcloud. As far as I can tell the group has only released one song but that four minutes of smoothed-out, stoner-disco is all I need to convince me to see Seoul while they're in Austin.

Seoul - Stay With Us video via YouTube

I did some extra scouring of the internet to make sure I am right on this but it looks like you will only have two shots to see Seoul during SXSW. The band's official showcase is Friday, March 14th at the Velveeta Room. They play the first set of the Pop Montreal Showcase, which will also feature Jessy Lanza later in the evening.

If you're going the free route and/or you don't want to commit to a 7:45pm showcase at the Velveeta Room, Seoul are playing the Pop Montreal Day Party on the Thursday the 13th. The day party has an RSVP so click that link back there if you want to attend.

If you're thinking of paying your way into the official showcase on Friday night, I would venture to guess the cover at Velveeta Room will actually be under $10. Last year was my first time setting foot inside that place and I was really pleasantly surprised. It's a very intimate space, shaped like a rectangle with a small stage in one corner. If you're going the cash route, arrive early enough to see Seoul but don't leave before Jessy Lanza because that room is going to get packed-out with badges about an hour before her set and you'll never get back in.

Spotify Playlists

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

SXSW 2014 Preview: Wet

SXSW showcasing artist, Wet makes pop music but it's not the music for the party and unless you live in England, you probably won't hear it on the radio. This is music for the after-party. It's pop but it's minimal, dreary pop. Pop music for a rainy day, or a wet day if you will. I would say those of you who enjoy London Grammar or Chvrches will probably want to check out Wet. So far, all they have out is a self-titled EP but I have a feeling there is a major label deal on the horizon. This isn't the next Lady Gaga or anything but England and AAA radio are going to go bonkers for this band. Also, their EP is out on Neon Gold Records, which has a pretty good reputation for making baby pop-bands into big pop-bands.

I have not seen Wet perform so, I'll be interested to see if they have any stage presence. Their official showcase takes place at Empire Auto on Saturday, March 15th. Their set will be in between a set from Tove Lo and a set from Haerts. If you like any one of these artists and you don't have official SXSW credentials, I recommend you get in the cash line outside Empire Auto early because your odds of getting in for around $10-$15 are pretty good if you get there around 7:00ish. If you have official credentials, check out the line-up for both the Neon Gold Showcase and the IHEARTCOMIX showcase, the venues are attached.

You don't have to wait for the last night of SXSW to see a set from Wet. They play Day 2 of the Spotify House on Tuesday the 11th. You can also find them on the Mohawk's inside stage on Friday the 14th for The Windish Agency and House of Vans Annual Day Party at 3:30p. Both of these parties are free with RSVP but they are also on the this official music party list so, if you have SXSW credentials you don't need to RSVP.

Spotify Playlists

photo credit: Wyn Herrick

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Monday, March 3, 2014

SXSW 2014 Preview: Drowners

My process for SXSW is to create a long Spotify playlist, including every artist playing the festival whose music is on Spotify. While making that long list, I create a short list of songs that jumped out at me. After I listen to that short list long enough, I start to migrate my favorite songs to the best of list. From there I narrow down my absolute favorites, which I am highlighting individually here.

I'm making Drowners the first band I feature for several reasons. The first reason is I love their record. Sometimes, when making those playlists, it can be tough to find the perfect song from an artist to include. With Drowners' album, I could have included any track and it would have made an impact on someone who has never heard the band before.

Drowners - A Button On Your Blouse video via YouTube

Based in New York, Drowners' lead singer is Welch and the band's sound is post-punk. They don't shy away from catchy melodies and their songs manages to evoke Manchester and New York simultaneously. Think The Smiths meets The Strokes and you're getting very close.

I suspect I will be one of many folks to highlight Drowners this year and you can also expect to see them in Austin again after SXSW. Given that the band is managed by C3, we can assume that they'll be playing ACL Fest this year. For now, let's focus on when and where you can catch Drowners at SXSW.

The band's only official SXSW showcase is Wednesday evening at 11:59pm. They are playing the Frenchkiss & Grand Jury Showcase at Half Step on Rainey St. If you don't have SXSW credentials arrive at the venue by 7pm at the latest and expect to pay a $10-$15 cover.

If you're going the unofficial route, it looks like Drowners are playing four unofficial events. HOWEVER, I can't find any details on when or where they will be at the moment. All I know, is their Bandintown listings show five SXSW appearances and one of those is their official showcase.

Spotify Playlists

Photo by: Pete Voelker

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SXSW2014: What to Bring

Whether you are a SXSW veteran or newcomer, whether you're going Platinum (like Kid Rock) or totally free (like Freedom Rock(Turn it up)), there are lots of things you're going to want to have on or near your person at all times. How much you carry sort of depends on what sort of person you are. I'm sure you could survive the entire festival armed with nothing more than some form of government issued ID. Personally, I would have a panic attack if I wasn't more prepared than that.

When I head downtown for SXSW, I don't really see my apartment again for at least 18 hours. That means, I have to be prepared for a variety of situations. Those of you who are veterans to the festival already know that there are going to be a lot of people trying to give you a lot of things that vary in their usefulness and desirability. Free Mophie Juice Pack if I tweet using your hashtag? Yes please! Free frisbee with your App's logo on it? I'm sorry sir, you no longer exist in my universe. Goodbye. Oh, and you can fuck right off with that flyer. Don't even try it!

I've broken things into three categories. Remember when you went to Summer Camp and you got that list of things to bring? I used to love those lists. The first list is your Must Haves. Now, admittedly the concept of a must have is very subjective so, let's assume that you're me for the purposes of this list. This is what you as me have to have. Ideally, we can cram all or most of what's on this list into a small messenger back or even fanny pack. That's right, I'm suggesting you wear a fanny pack. They're handy!

Must Haves

  • Government-Issued ID Card
  • Smartphone
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Tissues/Napkins/Paper Towels
  • Handkerchief
  • Phone Charger
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Comfortable Shoes
  • Analog Information Source
  • Cash ($1's & $5's for tipping)
  • Mints/Gum etc.
  • Earplugs (to muffle the people talking around you)
  • A General Sense of Appreciation and Awe
  • Food
  • Bus Pass/Bus Knowledge

I broke-up sunglasses, sunscreen and hat on my must-have but really you just need some combination of those things and that's mostly for those of you hitting the day-party scene. However, even if you're doing SXSW film there will be times in which you're standing in line in the sun so remember sun protection. Also, you're going to have your phone and charger with you but consider it a bonus if you find someplace to plug in your phone and/or you have cell-service. That's also the reason I suggest you have an analog information source. Don't presume you're going to be able to access digital information on your phone. Even if you have downloaded pdf files or screen-captured the info you want, your phone may die before you get to use that information.

I made sure to include food on the must-have list this year because it's easy to lose track of food consumption during the festival. When you're creating your daily schedule allow a couple of hour-long breaks for food. You're going to need something to soak up all of that alcohol. Austin's bus system is cheap and easy to use but it's going to be overcrowded and running WAY off schedule. Plan ahead, learn the routes that will get you to and from your bed and downtown. We have cabs, and Car2Go and Uber and all that but learning the bus is a great safety net in case all of those other options fail. Check out CapMetro online now. Access to bicycles is also outrageously handy during SXSW but it can be tough to find a spot to lock it up. This year we also have the option of the Austin B Bike. It's new to our city so I haven't tried it yet but I have a feeling I'm going to be taking advantage of this new service at some point during the festival.

It'd Be Nice to Haves

  • Spare Socks
  • Extra Phone Battery
  • Clean, Empty, Refillable Water Bottle
  • Hand Lotion
  • Emory Board
  • Eyeglasses Clean Cloth
  • Nail Clippers
  • Tooth Flossers
  • Lots of Cash
  • Kindle/Analog Book
  • Deodorant (Non-melting)
  • Travel-Size Mouthwash

The it'd be nice list is pretty self-explanatory. These are things that make the day a little bit nicer. The spare socks can be especially refreshing. I almost added "some form of portable seat" to this list because that's the one thing I'm always on the hunt for, someplace to put my ass. However, I feel like if I were in a crowded bar/venue and someone hit me with one of those folding stools while walking by, I might freak out on them. With that being said, I know that there will be a point next week when I'm standing in line fantasizing about one of those stupid camping stools.

Don't Haves

  • Jelly Shoes
  • Sandals (Even super-cute ones)
  • White Girl-Wasted in Daylight
  • General Disregard for Your Fellow Human/The Planet
  • Cell Phone Photos Using Flash
  • Cell Phone Video Shot Whilst Dancing
  • Selfies With Your Back to the Band
  • Conversations in Front of the Stage While the Band is Performing
  • Dudes With Ponytails
  • A Lack of Tip Money for Bartenders/Waitstaff

The don't haves list is mostly selfish and I admit the use of tenses and phrasing is suspect at best. However, each of these points is based on real life experience. Each one of these items made the list because I've seen people doing these things and it really harshes my mellow. I accept that I will have to deal with most of these violations and I will accept them in that moment but if this post prevents even one person from wearing Jelly Shoes then my job is done.

Spotify Playlists

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Sunday, March 2, 2014

SXSW: RSVP for Nothing

This post is bound to elicit some negative reactions and I'm totally ok with that. SXSW is on the horizon and if that doesn't induce a mild panic attack then I can't even talk to you right now. Most of us are freaking out because we still aren't ready, or at least we don't think we're ready. We never think we're ready and you know what? We're right. No matter how many times you go, or how much planning you do, you are never ready for SXSW. You can plan your ass off but I guarantee something will come up that throws a wrench in the works. Whether that means the event you were planing to attend is full, or running behind, or you missed your bus, or broke a heel. Something is going to fuck up your plans. So, have three plans and be flexible.

This year, I am armed with a music wristband, a film badge and a sense of entitlement. That is why my goal is to RSVP to as little as possible. For those of you who have been keeping track of me and/or this blog over the years you know that this is a sea change that has been in the works for a few years. My first few SXSW festivals I participated in strictly free events, just as many of you are planning to do. I am not judging those of you who enjoy all that SXSW has to offer free of charge and chances are I'll be joining you for some of these events. However, my goal is to avoid the things that are giving my favorite festival a bad reputation. Namely, outrageously corporate events that have little-to-nothing to do with the festival itself. They entice you with free booze and they might have a stage with bands you like but if you're there to hear the band perform, you're in the minority. Even some of the most well-intentioned events fall prey to spring break syndrome. Honestly, how can I expect a tent full of people plied with free domestic beer to listen to an intimate set from Inc.? That's not gonna happen.

So, rather than get angry about the crowd, or the event, I'm just not going to go. Also, as I mentioned I have official SXSW wristband, which means I don't have to RSVP to the biggest parties anyway. That's right, if you check the OFFICIAL SXSW website you'll notice that Spotify House, House of Vans and several other big day parties are listed. That means if you have official credentials you ain't got to RSVP to that shit. I honestly don't know what that means in terms of your free alcohol consumption but maybe you could focus on the music instead of the booze? Just kidding, that's crazy talk.

Here's what I propose for those of you who don't have official SXSW credentials. Go to the official SXSW website and pick three showcases each day that interest you. Now look at your top 3 selections and narrow them down by artist and venue. Ask yourself, are these top tier bands? If you answered yes, then just cross that showcase off your list. Trust me when I tell you that you're not buying into the Pitchfork showcase at Central Presbyterian Church and you're not buying into the NPR showcase at Stubb's. Also, if you're hoping to buy your way into the iTunes Festival shows you can just fuck right off. The next thing to consider once you've picked your three favorite showcases for the day, find the showcase that features THE MOST bands you want to see. Chances are you're not going to be familiar with every band on every showcase but hopefully you find one with at least three bands that excite you. The next step is arrive at the venue early. In years past, when I didn't have official credentials I would usually walk from a day party, to someplace with easily portable food, take that food to the official venue and eat in line.

When you arrive at the venue you should see some volunteers near the door. Ask the volunteers which line is the cash line. Each venue, whether it be music or film should have three lines. The badge line, the wristband/film pass line, and the cash line. They will let everyone in the badge line enter, then the wristband line, then the cash line. These lines will continue to form and re-form over and over all night. So, if you're in the cash line before the doors open you're chances of getting in the venue before a new badge line forms are pretty good. Occasionally, you will arrive at the venue before the volunteers arrive, in this instance be prepared to direct strangers and form your own lines. If you act like you know what you're doing, people will believe you. As new people arrive tell them which line is which and they will follow suite.

As I mentioned, both music and film events have cash lines but I can tell you from experience that it is MUCH harder to buy your way into films. If you're interested in the film festival and you would like to purchase tickets to individual screenings, my advice to you is stay away from downtown. Your best bet for buying into film screenings is to head to Alamo Slaughter, Alamo Village, or the Marchesa Theater near the Highland Mall. These theaters are harder for tourists to find and many of them are showing encore screenings of films that already played the Paramount, Ritz or Stateside theaters. If you're hoping to buy your way into the Wes Anderson screening or the premiere of the Veronica Mars movie, I can tell you right now that you're not getting in. I suspect those particular screenings are going to be tough to get into even if you have a Film Pass.

Is anyone still reading? Well, if you are I appreciate that fact and I hope you are inspired to attend at least one official SXSW event this year. Don't get caught up in the hype, don't be enticed by celebrity or alcohol, think about the goal of the festival. Discover new music, watch indie-cinema, don't say the word "synergy". Don't worry, I'll have lots more pre-coverage this coming week including the always popular SXSW survival bag.


I just want to make it explicitly clear that I don't think every event with free stuff isn't worth your time. I will definitely be consuming my fair share of free stuff. I'm just saying that the official showcases are a superior experience and that if you really love SXSW you might enjoy the ACTUAL FESTIVAL as much as all of the parasitic, free events that surround it.

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