2015 South By Southwest Survival Guide
So you're heading to Austin, Texas, for the annual South By Southwest festival, but are you fully prepared for the madness that lies ahead? Before you leave home, Loudwire has a last minute checklist to make sure you're not caught unprepared to enter music's biggest March bash.
1. Dress for the climate. While the East has recently been hit with brutal cold and the West has seen temps soar near 90, you'll actually get something akin to true spring days in Austin. The forecast for next week predicts temps in the low to mid 70s during the day and low 50s at night. There's a chance for rain on Wednesday and Thursday, so pack accordingly. Be able to layer. Pack a poncho or an umbrella and have backup shoes and socks in case you get caught in a muddy field somewhere.
2. Speaking of shoes, make sure you have something comfy. You're going to be doing a lot of walking and standing, so make sure your shoes are well worn rather than having a new pair causing blisters and undue pain.
3. A backpack can do wonders. Things you'll want to keep on hand include a hat to shield the sun during outdoor concert viewing, sunglasses, sunscreen, a water bottle to stay hydrated, chapstick, hand sanitizer or wetnaps and earplugs. That latter item is essential as not all concert sound systems are created equal. It's better not to get "concert ear" early in the day.
4. Business cards. Bring 'em, have 'em handy and network. This is the place.
5. Stay nourished. Days are long and the sun can drain you if you're outdoors. Be sure to check out the SouthBites Trailer Park filled with plenty of vendors. More details here.
6. How are you getting around? If you're not staying close to the action, look into hotel shuttle services or taxis. More on your options here. Once you are closer to the venues, many places are fairly close to each other. Scout the locations of the clubs in advance to plan whether you prefer to walk, fight for a peddicab or might want to look into alternate modes of transportation like renting a bike or using a ride sharing app.
7. Make a plan. The official South By Southwest schedule of showcases is available at the festival's website. See who's playing where. Gauge how popular the show you want to see might be and plan accordingly to be there as early as possible to ensure your entry into the most in-demand events. Also be aware that not everyone gets into every showcase and have a backup plan in case you realize you're not going to be able to get into the show you want to see.
8. Stay in the loop. Yes, most people have a smart phone or tablet nowadays to keep up on all the South By Southwest happenings, including last minute concert announcements not already on the schedule. But there's also the old fashioned way of keeping up to date which is talking to people at the shows you're attending. You might make a friend, get turned onto some new acts or potentially learn the buzz about some newly announced show / party. Also, don't forget to bring a backup power source to stay charged throughout the day.
9. It's going to be crowded. Be respectful of other people's personal space. Don't be the guy that's so out of control you clock someone in the head. Also, don't be the guy that gets upset because you got clocked in the head by a stray limb. It's crowded and you're likely going to take a few lumps or get stepped on a few times during the week. So long as it's not intentional, mark it up to a concert foul and move on.
10. Social media. It is what it is. But this is live music and it's best enjoyed as such. If you have to shoot on your cell phone, keep it eye level if possible, pick your spots, but do take the time to enjoy it live and leave the social network posting to the downtime between sets or the end of the night rather than being in the music moment.