By Brittany Robinson, Janelle Abad SXSW Music Press Team
SXSW can be a whirlwind of negative experiences if you are under 18 and unprepared. You just end up walking down 6th street until you find a nice bar to sit in front of. There you will listen to the vague sound of one your favorite bands while 21 and up passer-bys step over you to get in. It’s tough to be underage at SXSW, but our press team may have some tips on how to have an amazing SXSW 2016.
Where would we be without our friends? Many of your friend probably already know where the hottest shows are going to be and have expressed their interest in them on Facebook. Some of the best shows at SXSW are ones that you don’t need a badge for and Facebook is great place to put unofficial shows. Check out the event page and see what shows your friends are going to and may be interested in. You are bound to find an all ages event in there and if not, just drop a comment asking. Chances are you’re probably not the first to do so.
2. Think about transportation before you get there
If you have the opportunity to park your car anywhere near downtown Austin, it will cost you a pretty penny. If you decide to park far and Uber or Lyft it over — actually, don’t even think about doing that. Uber and Lyft prices will be so high during SXSW, the notion of using them will be laughable. So here are your options:
Option 1 – Park your car somewhere where you know it will not get towed. Then, buy an Austin bus pass for the week. You can then ride the bus straight into 6th St. without paying too much or worrying about your car being towed.
Option 2 – Park your car in a good place and walk/bike all the way to downtown Austin (which I guarantee will be at least a couple of miles, plus you will be on your feet for the entirety of the festival.)
Both options have their flaws, but SXSW is a war zone and you can’t win every battle.
3. Arrive early
SXSW is a true test of patience. Don’t be surprised if most of your time is spent waiting in lines. If there’s an artist that you’ve been dying to see live for the past five years, be ready to wait another two hours. Venues that are notorious for great line-ups like The Mohawk and Lady Bird Lake will reach capacity within a couple of hours. Lady Bird Lake shows do require that you arrive with a guest pass – it’s free with an RSVP.
4. External battery packs
Flashbacks of the College Music Journal Music Marathon last October haunt me with this point… Imagine being alone in New York City for the first time at around midnight trying to get to a venue that’s roughly a 30 minute walk/subway ride and having your only means of navigation (my phone) die after 10 hours of being used to contact people and navigate the subway system. This, of course, was me. I frantically searched the streets of New York City for some sort of Walgreens or CVS that was still open to be able to at least find my way back home that night. After about an hour of running around and missing a few key shows, I finally got my hands on an external battery pack.
These are great tools to have handy. Waiting in those lines for hours is a call in itself to drain out your phone’s battery. Just take note to charge them overnight before leaving for the festival.
5. 18+ Places to take refuge:
Waterloo Day Parties: Austin’s most well-known record store sets up a stage in their parking lot every year and probably has an artist playing that you’ve heard of. It’s completely free, meaning no wristband or badge required. As a bonus, artists usually host free signings/meet and greets inside the record store. Even if you’re not interested in the band playing outside, you can always peruse through the aisles of vinyl and fun musical trinkets instead.
House of Vans at The Mohawk: The Mohawk in general is notorious for reaching capacity at a quick rate. As mentioned before, be ready to wait in lines. They take priority over badges and wristbands before letting in non-badge/wristband holders into the venue. The line-ups are usually festival favorites, House of Vans SXSW alum being A$AP Rocky, BORNS, Courtney Barnett, and more.
El Sapo Turns 2!: Music for Listeners is hosting their 8th annual unofficial party March 16th-20th. All ages are welcome and no need for RSVP, wristbands or badges is guaranteed according to the Facebook event. Food provided by El Sapo will also be available at the showcase in honor of the restaurant’s 2nd birthday.
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