Eight Survival Tips for Your First SXSW

Music Lists SXSW

While the goals of SXSW Music attendees are pretty much universal (cram in as many musical experiences as humanly possible in one four-day span of time, with a lot of beer and very little sleep thrown in on the side), there are about as many strategies for maximum SXSW enjoyment as there are people striving for it. But if this week finds you heading down to Austin for the very first time, here are a few things some Paste staffers have learned from experience that might help you navigate the wilds of Sixth Street. Seasoned veterans, feel free to share your own tips in the comments.

Do not wear new shoes.
And if you do, do not walk all the way across town just to buy a tablecloth.

Pedicabs and the ‘Dillos are your friends.
Comfortable footwear notwithstanding, sometimes you just need to catch a lift. The Dillo trollies on Fifth and Sixth streets a little bumpy, but free and convenient. And Pedicab rides are every bit as terrifying as they seem, but are still a fun (and environmentally-friendly) taxi-alternative that go all over the city.

Don’t get too attached to your plans.
They will probably change.

Accept that there’s always something you’re missing.
You can spend every hour thinking about the six bands you’re not seeing, or you can just enjoy the one in front of you.

Plan ahead, especially when the words “buzz band” are involved.
If you really want to see an act, avoid the pain of being stuck out on the curb while the sounds of the next big thing wafts at you from inside. Get there early, even if it might mean taking in a band you’re not so keen on (and you never know– they could be the next next big thing).

Don’t be afraid to go it alone.
Last year, I dumped two Brit-hop loving compatriots at Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip and headed up by myself to see Bon Iver at Mohawk. It was hard to feel lonely while being elbowed in the ribs by no less than ten awed strangers at once.

Drink when it’s free…
Many day parties have free liquor, and that’ll let you clear your head by the wee small hours—just in time to get a good night’s sleep and wake up feeling fine.

…but pace yourself.

You probably can’t have all the beer and all the bands and all the tacos that you want to have without barfing and/or passing out. Take it easy at first, get your business done, then save the serious craziness for the last day and just zonk out on the flight home.

Go to Hut’s.
If you are hungover, or if you’ve ever been hungover, or if there is a chance you may ever be hungover at any point in your life, consumption of these hamburgers is simply imperative.

Good luck, everyone—andsee you there!

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