Every year my SXSW advice is the same – drink so much water (to balance out all the free beer), for God’s sake don’t eat tacos for every meal, and if you’re waiting in line for more than ten minutes, just leave and try something else. This year I’m sticking to my guns, but I’m also going to add, try eating fruit once in a while! It feels amazing! Last year I figured this out while holding an amazing, delicious, absolutely heaven-sent plum in one hand, a whiskey ginger in the other, and watching a band I’d never heard before who are now among my favorites, just because I’d come to the venue to sit down. I guess that just goes to show that sometimes the best thing to do at SXSW is heed the demands of your increasingly exhausted body above those of your increasingly frazzled mind. It also just goes to show that it’s probably a good idea to have a backup plan and be willing to improvise, because that’s often how you catch the best stuff. Here’s my plan A, but don’t hold me to it, because 1) I have no patience for lines, and There Will Be Lines, and 2) I might just see Destruction Unit twelve times.
FRIDAY MARCH 14
If your tastes lean anywhere toward the remotely garage-y, you probably know that the way, the truth, and the light is Brooklyn’s Exploding in Sound records. Even if you haven’t been inducted into the fold, you might just find yourself part of the cult by Friday, because the label are offering up a showcase that’s top-to-bottom amazing, not to mention will give you an excuse to stay in one place all day (which, trust me, seems like heaven by SXSW Friday) and still see nine trillion incredible bands. A sampling of the good stuff – Speedy Ortiz, Potty Mouth, Big Ups, Palehound, Yvette, Tyvek, Total Slacker, Eternal Summers, and more. It all goes down at Hole in the Wall from 11am til 2am.
If you feel like switching it up a little, try Future Classic’s party at Empire Garage in the afternoon, with sets from SOPHIE, Panama, Classixx, and more – and hey, you can run over to Empire Control Room at 3:45 to see Destruction Unit. And at night, shoot for Pitchfork’s official showcase at Central Presbyterian Church, which is sure to bring the tears (of emotion and exhaustion) with sets from Hundred Waters, Mark Kozelek, Angel Olsen, Real Estate, and EMA; if that doesn’t work out, run across town to Hotel Vegas for Panache’s always-amazing party, with Ex-Cult, Odonis Odonis, La Luz, Speedy Ortiz, and more.
SATURDAY MARCH 15
If you didn’t heed our advice to stay in one place all Friday and are now fiercely regretting it, we’ve got your Saturday camp-out all squared away, provided you can summon the chutzpah to mosh a little – hit up Panache’s Ty Segall-curated party at Spiderhouse, which’ll go all day and night with sets from Ty himself, Coachwhips (the new/old project of Thee Oh Sees’ John Dwyer), Calvin Love, La Luz, Destruction Unit, Entrance Band, and more.
Alternatively, if you’ve chugged the requisite amount of coffee to equalize all the beer in your system, we’re presenting The Beehive with the Wild Honey Pie at Cheer Up Charlie’s Saturday afternoon, with sets from Small Black, Pure Bathing Culture, the High Highs, Oberhofer, and more. Not too far down the street, Check Yo Ponytail’s are putting on a showcase at Empire Garage and Control Room, with a diverse, awesome lineup that includes Ratking, Dum Dum Girls, Lizzo, TRUST, Youth Code, and more. Stick around there at night for Neon Gold’s party and another chance to see holychild and MØ, as well as HAERTS, Wet, Anamanaguchi, and more. Or, there’s an awesome official showcase at Elysium, featuring TRUST, EMA, Empress Of, Gary Numan, and more.
One of the most exciting and frustrating things about SXSW is that there’s still so much to be announced (OutKast reunion? 50 Cent appearance? BrooklynVegan’s daily, always-perfect, on-the-pulse parties? And I’m still holding out for a surprise Spoon show?), so keep checking Twitter and embrace primitive forms of media by reading posters on the street. If you’re underage, more power to you – sxswunderaged.com is your best friend. Keep your water bottle full, have a plan B, a plan C, and a plan D, and don’t be embarrassed to just say screw it all and drive to Barton Springs for the afternoon – I’ll probably see you there. I’m raising my preemptive Lone Star tallboy to you; may you see all your favorite bands and survive the week with your sanity and physical health intact.
Whether we’ll see you down there or you’ll be checking out live streams from the somewhat enviable comfort of your own home, let us know who you’re psyched about. We’ll return the favor at the end of the week – stay tuned!