Ticketbud's SXSW 2014 Survival Guide
Wish SXSW came with a manual? Well...it doesn't. Mainly because as soon as somebody writes one SXSW attendees, organizers and presenters do something to flip the festival on its head. Here is the SXSW survival guide.
Used a sweet new app to find all the best talks? It's been replaced by the newest new app. Have a trusted, low-key bar where all the under-the-radar bands play at? Miley Cyrus is playing there this year.
The point here is there's no foolproof way to prepare for the chaos that is SXSW. Instead, we offer a humble guide based on years of attending the festival for surviving and maybe, just maybe, even thriving at South By.
Don't pay for food (or beer for that matter)
If you play your cards right, you can make it through an entire week (or longer) of SXSW without spending a dime on food. Seriously, we've done it.
No, this doesn't mean steal. Tons of companies trying to promote their brand or latest product will host free brunches, lunches and other events with delicious food and, once you're in, you're good to grub. The key is to find your go-to places early in the festival. Find a specific company's hangout and ride that gravy train. You can search for other options but it's helpful to always have that trusty fallback with the breakfast tacos and strong mimosas.
Be prepared, though. Often times companies will leave when a specific week ends so, for example, when Interactive ends be prepared to search for another company (and their food) to show up for Music.
Relax for a night
There tends to be a certain mentality that the unique experience of SXSW necessitates attendees to go absolutely insane every night and stay out till 5am for 10 days straight. Take it from certain members of the Ticketbud team that have tried and failed miserably at that- you will enjoy SXSW more if you take a night or two off to just chill.
While the YOLO-screaming attendees may cry blasphemy, taking a night off to simply recharge will pay dividends. It's a bit counter-intuitive to the "see-it-all, do-it-all" SXSW culture but it's also an underrated and often overlooked necessity to surviving the festival.
Word moves quick at SXSW. The time between a rumor of Prince playing at a certain venue and a mass of 500 people lined up outside that venue is literally seconds. If you want to be aware of the latest SXSW rumors, news and general shenanigans as they happen, the best way to do so is via Twitter.
The SXSW motto for using Twitter: Check it early, check it often and follow the right people.
There are certain Twitter users who do nothing but tweet and RT SXSW news as it's breaking. Some useful handles to follow:
- RSVPster (@rsvpster)
- SXSWhoa (@SXSWhoa)
- Cameron @ SXSW (@CameronAtSXSW)
- atxhipsters (@atxhipsters)
- SXSWPARTYGIRLS (@SXSWPARTYGIRLS)
- unofficialsxsw (@unofficialsxsw)
Comfort over cuteness
If you're going to be standing and walking around all day in the sun, don't make it harder on yourself by wearing those designer wool pants or those 6-inch heels made of glass. Despite what some might say, you can find a good balance between style and comfort (and if you can't you might need to work on your style).
Keep the heels in your purse or head back to your hotel or house in the evening to change. Again, take it from someone who has tried and failed miserably at this. After all, what's the point of wearing your snazziest getup if you're in unfathomable pain or you've sweat through your ironic, unnecessarily tight button down?
A few other tips to abide by:
- Avoid wearing your company's brand every day. It makes you look like your always trying to sell someone something. Also, you look absurd.
- Not sure what music to check out? Check out Hippohonk. They rate bands playing and are a solid resource for who's worth your oh so precious time.
- Want to scope out some venues? Check out our SXSW Pinterest Board!
- Talk to everybody (and we mean everybody). In Austin, you never can truly tell if someone is homeless or a multi-millionaire graphic designer until you talk to them. Introduce yourself and be friendly. You might just meet your VIP connection.
- Act like you've been there before. We're not suggesting you lie, per se, but confidence will get you into more parties than you might think. Act like a pro, get treated like one.
- Go with the flow. It's never a bad idea to have a plan but don't be afraid to ditch it. With so many spontaneous things popping up, most schedules don't make it past midday anyways.