If SXSW wasn’t in someone’s repertoire, you can guarantee it is after President Obama descended upon Austin, ate at the famous Torchy’s Tacos and gave a keynote address on the global impact of technology (as well as attended two other functions … all in a day, right?). For over thirty years SXSW has grown into a phenomenon where industry insiders, celebrities, bloggers and those passionate about getting a glimpse of this insane two-week ordeal flock to the Texas capital – all while most Austinites choose to hibernate for these near fourteen days. Going to SXSW is definitely a commitment, but in true Mint Society fashion, we decided on an impromptu day trip a week before.
Many think that attending SXSW costs thousands of dollars – and here’s the deal, it can. But one of the best things about this event that is with a little research you can attend for free. Urban Outfitters has always put on day shows in the comfort of their shop on Guadalupe, but this year the creation of Space Twenty-Four was able to host a four-day showcase featuring bands and different vendors in their very Urban, very Texas courtyard. UO Live was our first stop of the day where we were introduced to bands like HÆLOS, who are now permanently on our playlist. Members of the industry, bands, local students and the best dressed attended this event. Shiner cans were $1.50; they hosted a DIY Michelada table featuring Bloody Mary mixes with a hint of rib-eye or habanero … a hard, hard choice for a Saturday afternoon. Not to mention we were near these burger-aficionados favorite Austin burger joint – Symons (Sorry, but not sorry Hopdoddy – you’ll forgive us after you’ve had the Symon burger with onion jam).
UO Live is a great way to immerse yourself in the SXSW culture. They have amped up the experience with food trucks, free merchandise and DIY stations, really making this a place that is convenient not to leave - That is until everything ends at six. SXSW openly advertises free events that anyone can attend without a coveted badge or wristband, and has even recently introduced the ‘guest pass’ on the SXSW GO app. With this guest pass, you have even more access than before. With some research, Patricio stumbled upon a showcase on the other side of town that looked promising. The Townsend on Congress hosted a very intimate showcase with industry insiders looking to discover the next big thing. And really, any of the three bands we saw could be just that. Sykes, Birthh and The Dumplings were all European, female-led and with such different sounds. This was a SXSW experience where it really felt like you were witnessing the start of something really huge for these three acts.
We ended the night dancing away on 4th street (no, not a mistake I didn’t say 6th). Austin has some of the best rooftop venues with music that’s hard not to get up and move to. And as quickly as we rolled into Austin, our night ended just twelve hours after our arrival. It was a very impromptu SXSW trip filled with the usual adventure and discovery wrapped with a list of what to do next year. SXSW is only growing, and if you’re into any part of the technology, film or music piece of this festival, invest in the wristband or badge and get truly unprecedented access for two weeks.
Austin is one of those magical places full of culture, music, food and recreation – If you have two weeks to bunker down and call the live-music capital home, do so. Or, like President Obama and the First Lady, you can take a whirlwind day trip and have an equally awesome, albeit quick time in the 512. We don’t want to compare ourselves to the Obamas – But we chose the latter. We've also pulled together a playlist of our favorite songs from the new bands that we found on our day trip to SXSW.