SXSW has it all – from networking with peers you’ve only known through the confines of email threads to raging with artists on the come-up into the wee hours of the morning. Plus, you’ll be able to experience an array of delicious eateries, chill hang-out spots, alluring art installations and more of the best Austin, Texas has to offer. The only question is: Where do you begin?
Let's begin with real talk when it comes to how to manage your schedule, getting around and just over all #thriving at SXSW.
• The only thing better than free drinks is when those drinks are paired with free chow! Follow @thefreenoms on Twitter to get the lowdown on all things free food related during SXSW.
• When ride sharing becomes a nightmare – and it will – opt for a pedi cab or rent a bike.
• SXSW is lowkey alternative Fashion Week. By all means, dress sharp. However, keep in mind two factors: weather and comfort. The March weather in Austin is highly temperamental. One minute it’s scorching hot, the next hour it’s 45 degrees (Fahrenheit) and you’re in a sundress asking yourself, "Why?"
• Keep baggage to a minimum. You will be walking all over town, and no one wants to carry extra weight. Now’s the time to opt for a backpack, crossbody bag, fanny pack or wristlet.
• It's not a bad idea to travel with a poncho or an umbrella, too. As mentioned, Austin weather can be unpredictable. When the rain and wind pick up, you'll be prepared.
• And finally, don't wing it. We’re all about the free spirit lifestyle, but SXSW is not the place to fully flex that notion. Your morning routine should consist of an outline of the top three acts or showcases you don’t want to miss for the day. (Some that are listed below, of course!) As events unfold you may want to deviate and that’s completely okay. It’s helpful to have an idea of the scope of your day at the outset.
With the music component of SXSW now merely days away, we couldn’t resist creating a list of artists, showcases and unique ATX places you should have on your to-do list. Sure, you could unearth talent via Soundcloud, but trust us, it’s so much better to discover your next favorite artist through a SXSW set. Besides, Mixmag essentially took the guesswork out of the laborious scheduling process for you. Let the games begin…
Lush Presents Algorave: Live Coding Party
It’s one thing to read about an Algorave and quite another to experience it. This distinct audiovisual movement emerged from the UK in 2012 and has since traversed the planet. Performers code in real-time and project their screens for the audience to get a glimpse of the creative process. You can expect leading artists from the Algorave scene at this special showcase.
[Photo: Antonio Roberts]
Date: Tuesday, March 12
Venue: The Main II (603 Red River St.)
The Korea Spotlight is always a good time! Back for their seventh year at SXSW, KOCCA (Korea Creative Content Agency) is presenting Korea Spotlight with a cool line-up of artists including iKON, CHUNG HA, Hitchhiker, Jambinai, XXX and KIRARA.
Speaking of KIRARA, we’re particularly stoked to check out her live show. She won a Korean Music Award for ‘Best Electronic & Dance Album’ for her album, 'Moves'.
Date: Wednesday, March 13
Venue: Austin City Limits (310 Willie Nelson Blvd.)
IRIS: A Space Opera by Justice
We realize this isn’t a “showcase.” However, by Wednesday, you’ll definitely want to sit back, relax and enjoy an engaging film. What better way to take a temporary break from the chaos than by watching GRAMMY Award-winning duo Justice perform live? This 60-minute film of Justice’s 2017-2018 live show, recorded in an empty and invisible space sans audience, shines a spotlight on their remarkable production and music. Even if Justice was filmed performing on a cement block, they had us as “space opera.”
Date: Wednesday, March 13
Venue: Alamo Ritz 1 (320 E 6th St.)
Rogue Agency Showcase at SXSW
Think of this showcase as the cool kids’ variety hours. The outdoor stage will host artists across varied genres to include hip-hop, punk, techno and more. However, you can find us vibin’ to the DJs slated to perform at the indoors stage. The line-up includes Madam X, Ouri, Golden Vessel, DJ Paypal, Black Taffy and many others.
The cool thing about this showcase is it’s FREE to the public and doesn’t require a badge for entry. RSVP here.
Date: Thursday, March 14
Venue: ScratcHouse (617 E. 7th St.)
AMW (Austin Music Week) Showcases
Join Austin-based Ethics Events and V Productions for a week-long journey in dance music at Voodoo Room. Who all is invited? Pig&Dan, Matt Lange, Crizzly, Robbie Rivera, Jaceeoh and many more! Houston, Texas-based collective Cirque Noir will host a takeover with Vujaday Music Festival featuring Serge Devant and Djuma Soundsystem. AMW showcases end on Sunday with a special St. Patty’s Day closing party with BLOND:ISH. Are you swooning yet?
Click here to view the full AMW schedule.
Date: Friday, March 8-Sunday, March 17
Venue: Voodoo Room (419 E. 6th St.)
Majestic Casual SXSW Showcase 2019
This showcase will be epic for two reasons.
First is the dope line-up consisting of Two People, Elder Island, Beshken, Oscar Jerome, Golden Vessel and Elderbrook.
Secondly, Bungalow – where the Majestic Casual Showcase is taking place – is a glorified house, not a club. So, the energy of the crowd will be laidback like that of being at a legit house party.
Date: Friday, March 15
Venue: Bungalow (92 Rainey St.)
What to eat when you're hungover
Jack Allen's Kitchen
After a week of hardcore partying and networking, you’ll surely work up quite an appetite by morning. Take a little road trip to the JAK’s Round Rock location, merely 20-30 minutes outside of downtown, to experience the ultimate brunch featuring classics, plus the famous Round Rock donuts.
Kick off your morning with a huevos rancheros, refuel with a Del Mar taco and end the night with yes, another taco, Del Pueblo.
The best of Texas BBQ
We know you came to town with music and meat in mind. Admit it.
Austin isn’t only the live music capital of the world, but it’s also home to some of the most flavorful barbeque on the planet. Whether you’re craving brisket, beef ribs or both, Brown’s BBQ will fulfill your hankering.
We are completely here for the combo of craft beer and BBQ at this rustic tavern. If you’re rolling with a posse, opt for the family-style BBQ plate to share the love. Finish off that scrumptious barbeque, with smoked banana pudding or a booze-infused float.
And if you're still hungry...
Hands down, Hut’s has the best burgers and milkshakes in town. They’ve been in operation since 1939, so they surely know a thing or two when it comes to making mouth-watering burgers.
At the rate different showcases are dishing out BBQ and tacos like free water at a music festival, it can be a challenge for those with specific diets. Fortunately, Flower Child offers fresh, farm-to-table cuisine for hungry vegans, vegetarians or anyone who’s in search for something that’s both healthy and delicious.
In the rare case you find yourself burnt out on BBQ, tacos and beer, this eatery will be the remedy. Featuring an assortment of Taiwanese food, smoothies and pearl drinks, you’ll leave refreshed and ready to conquer the balance of the day.
Brews and booze
This family-owned coffee station has some of the best brew you will ever sip. Without the assistance of a ‘start’ button or power cord, the folks behind Summer Moon have built a hearth as a nod to the craft of 19th century coffee roasters.
Fun fact: It takes three people to custom hand-roast their coffee daily. Bottoms up.
This is a great one-stop-shop ahead of the full days of showcases since they have some pretty tasty partnerships with local restaurants. For example, munch on a breakfast taco from Pueblo Viejo, a family-owned taqueria located on the Eastside, while sipping a smooth cappuccino.
Calling all whiskey lovers! No trip to ATX will be complete without a visit to Treaty Oaks Distillery. They distill both rye and bourbon whiskey. If you take the tasting tour, we sure hope you have room in your suitcase to cart off a bottle or two of their brown goodness.
Radio Coffee & Beer
If you’re into craft beer and a nice cup of joe, then you will fall in love with this place. Plus, as true to most Austin watering holes, there’s live music weekly.
There’s a reason BuzzFeed listed Waterloo Records as one of the best record stores in the world. The shop has been in operation since the early 1980s and is an ATX mainstay. They offer a vast range of records across any genre you can think of. Plus, they host artist showcases in-store which adds a unique intimate element.
For those of you with a penchant for all things retro, this Eastside gem is for you. They carry vinyl records dating back to the ‘20s!
End of an Ear
This quaint shop has a treasure chest of vinyl records ranging from collectibles and re-issues to newly released and vintage. There’s something for every audiophile’s palate.
Perhaps you didn’t fully prepare for Austin’s erratic weather – and it’s okay. Prototype has you literally covered. Whether vintage tees are your thing or you’re jonesin’ for an authentic pair of cowboy boots, this stylish establishment will hook you up.
Stepping into Room Service is like taking a step back in time. In the 1950s, this cinderblock and glass shop was home to a pharmacy and soda fountain in which you can still see some of the shelving and fixtures from that era. This charming feature coupled with their selection of retro goodies, makes for the perfect place to find your next favorite vintage find.
For the Austin experience
Experiential art installations are popping up all over the world. Fortunate for SXSW attendees, Tacotopia is in town for the full month of March.
What’s a Tacotopia? We’re glad you asked. It’s an Instagrammable playground where you are immersed into a world of colorful, taco inspired, fun and interactive 3-D art installations. We personally can’t wait to engage with the Señorita Needs a Margarita lime swing.
Added perk: SXSW badge holders receive $5 off their ticket.
This specially curated interactive art exhibit features 13 distinctive installations bedecked in visually stunning work created by various artists, mostly based out of Austin. The art activations are located in a huge 10,000 sq. ft. warehouse that inspires guests to fully immerse themselves in the amazing sonic and visual wonderland.
Texas is known for a ton of outdoorsy activities such as archery, gun ranges and *drum roll* ...axe throwing. Give in to your inner warrior and book a lane with your SXSW squad. This place tends to fill up fast, so we recommend reserving your spot in advance.
The Roosevelt Room
Whether you’re wanting a traditional Long Island Iced Tea or a classic martini with a twist, this place has mastered the art of the cocktail. The RR is known to use a wide variety of ingredients, techniques, and serving styles to create something truly memorable – in a good way.
If you’re itching to try something that comes with a story that will more than likely end with you having your very own story, then Philadelphia Fish House Punch is the route to go. This $60 punch bowl dates back to the 1730s. Indulging in this cocktail is no small victory.
Upstairs at Caroline
Growing up has its perks such as being able to indulge in lovely libations while beating your best friend in a grueling game of Cornhole. Upstairs at Caroline caters to our inner child with games, while quenching our cocktail craving. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Gabrielle Pharms is a balancing act between fangirl and journo based in Houston, Texas. Follow her on Twitter here.