SXSW 2019 Recommendations

06-Mar-19 | Categories: music, shows | Tags: sxsw, sxswmusic, yourprivateradio, musicconference, festival

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SXSW has always been a good time of year for me to go crazy and then hit the reset button to pull myself back into work-life-climbing reality. And since I can't go this year, I thought I'd provide you with some of my recommendations to check out.

You should know that these recommendations are for the non-badge holders and those that aren't filthy rich (or part of a company that's floating your stay at the conference).

General Tips

  • Transportation: Bring a bicycle and locks and a cover for the rain wherever you are posting up.
  • Accommodations: Borrow a friend's van and find a good spot to post up. You brought a bicycle, so find a spot about a 15-20min bike ride away from it all. I typically like the East Side. And if you can't get a van, make it work in your car. Hotels are just not an option.
  • Keeping clean: join a cheap gym for a month and shower there.
  • Brain/body: get sleep. Don't blow your load too fast. And the more wasted you get that night, the more tired you'll be to stay on top of it all the next day.
  • Food: this is one of the hardest parts, and eating healthy adds to the difficult. But there are ways to do it. Taking my tips on transportation and accommodations, there's an H-E-B close by.
  • Drink: you don't need any tips here. I've always gotten to the point where I had to refuse free alcohol. However, if you have to pay at a show, it's not too bad. And they're also looking to push alcohol so I've (personal experience) never really had to wait for my ticket Deep Eddy's, BoGo $3 craft high abv beer,
  • Weather: bring lots of variations if clothing. Be prepared for rain (pouring and light), super humid conditions, and hot/cold fluctuations. It really varies this time of month so be sure to check the forecast for temps before you leave and always be prepared for rain (and bright/hot sunscreen needed days).
  • Less baggage at shows: if you can, try not to bring a pack. But, it's often needed for weather variations, etc. so get a small 16L or smaller day hiker.
  • Out for the day items to bring: cable for charging, battery case for phone, small snax/clif bars, cash, ID, wear sunscreen!, rain jacket
  • Just enjoy! Don't be that person taking video and photos holding your phone up and blocking someone's view. If you're gonna do it, be quick! Learn about the volume rockers as the shutter, etc.
  • Going crazy: don't blow your load day 1. You have so much to do. And try your best not to drink too much and get hungover. Trying to get your ass to shows instead of sleeping in is very difficult.


  • Education: see the sessions schedule here. Live streams of keynotes here. Check out the labs and lounges for freebies. Review the schedule, click on sessions. Many post their resources/slide decks right in the session description. And if there's something you see that you like, but there are no slide deck/resource links, go the presenters' LinkedIn profiles. Many post the resource decks in their profiles or give their @handles on social media where they post.
  • Music: Spotify playlists below. Full SXSW playlist, bands I'm researching playlist (continuously updated), and favs playlist (continuously updated). My advice and how I do it: listen to the full lineup playlist on shuffle. If a track comes up that you like, move the track to a researching playlist. Then go through to the band pages of those from your researching playlist to find the top 5 tracks at the top of the band's page. If you like those tracks, add them to a favs playlist. Try to go see those favs!
  • Some show suggestions: Strange Brew (1day), Doc Martins (3days), Floodfest (2days), Waterloo (3days), Manic Monday (1day), Range Life (2days), British Music Embassy (4days)
  • Finding shows: Do512 (search by the bands/venues you like, find badgeless shows - this is my primary mechanism of research), Twitter (follow the bands you like and watch for their show postings, find people to follow that post the parties with free stuff/drinks/food)
  • Show-to-show-to-show: advice is stay put as much as you can at a venue you like with bands you like. If you have a bike, you can move, just remember travel/entrance times chip into experiences.


  • Run along the Lady Bird area/trail
  • Climbing at Reimers
  • Austin Bouldering Project
  • Crux Climbing Center
  • Check out Lake Travis and Oasis (at least once). Great views worth the painful campy chain-like appearance of the brewery.
  • Lots of time? Mexico! El Potrero or El Salto!


  • Tacos: Tyson's Tacos, Taco Shack
  • Bagels: Rockstar Bagels
  • Coffee: Sa-Tén
  • Grocery: Whole Foods (it's their headquarters - the take away is really good), H-E-B (if posting up way East side), Any Day Grocery (if posting up at ABP and don't want to move)
  • Food only: East Side King, Ginger Armadillo (mostly at Friends & Allies), and other food trucks on the East Side
  • Bars and breweries w/food: Lazarus, Hi-Hat, Easy Tiger, East Side Tavern
  • Bars and breweries w/o food (may have food truck): Handle Bar, Wright Bros Brew and Brew, Friends & Allies, Hops and Grain, The Liberty, Brew Exchange, Zilker Brewing