Each spring the massive South by Southwest (SXSW) Film, Music and Interactive Festival takes place in Austin amid a mind-boggling number of official and unofficial day parties and showcases. Although the event is geared toward industry insiders the sheer scale of SXSW means fans, artists and industry members come together in an attempt to discover what the best musicians, filmmakers and technology companies are up to.
The festival officially kicks off on March 11 with President Obama participating in a keynote panel on technology while First Lady Michelle Obama will open Music week as the first keynote speaker. It is the first time a sitting President and First Lady have come to SXSW.
We mention POTUS and FLOTUS’ visit so you’re aware there will be over 16 street closures downtown on the 11th. Expect a similar scenario when Mrs. Obama visits later in the week. Our recommendation is not to drive a vehicle downtown on those dates. In fact, don’t drive into downtown ANY day of the festival. Take the train, bus, shared ride service or bike into SXSW and save yourself a some time and hassle.
Non-music related events of interest this year beyond the Obamas includes the debut of Austin City Limits TV’s documentary, “A Song For You.” The film’s tagline is, “The ultimate backstage pass to 40 years of incredible music.” We’re sold on the movie on the strength of that slogan. Check sxsw.com for showtimes. Rick Linklater (“Boyhood, Dazed and Confused”) is also premiering a film billed as a sequel to “Dazed and Confused” which is set in 1970s Austin.
We know you’re really here to find out about the free day parties so we’ll drop all the talk of peripheral events and cut to the chase. Below are ten parties we recommend you put on your SXSW schedule this year. Everything from improvisational jazz, hip-hop, punk, indie rock and electronica are represented this year. Like every SXSW there is an extraordinarily diverse lineup of bands and artists from around the globe set to descend on Austin.
The events listed will focus on Music Week. For a full list of recommended shows visit the author’s do512 page.
Do512’s Epic Interactive – March 11 – Hotel Vegas & Volstead Lounge
Do512 as we mentioned in our story on how to find the best South by Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Festival (SXSW) parties is an invaluable resource not only for finding events to attend in Austin but for music discovery. Of the three events the entertainment website is promoting during SXSW, their Epic Interactive party Friday night at Hotel Vegas represents the best chance for music fans to find their new favorite band. The party will also feature aerialists and burlesque dancers so come for the great music on tap and enjoy some eye-candy while you celebrate the launch of the Interactive portion of the festival.
Friday’s show will feature electro-pop quartet The Octopus Project. The Austin-based experimental band was spawned from the bowels of the University of Texas Film School thus the group employs a sophisticated projection and light show synchronized to their music which will make you want to dance.
The rest of the lineup is stacked with an Austin-centric lineup that includes another favorite experimental band, Chipper Jones. The Riverboat Gamblers, garage-rockers Otis the Destroyer and DJ Mike Relm are also on the bill. You’re not going to want to miss this one so arrive early before the venue reaches capacity.
Pro-tip: Download the DoStuff Media app which allows users to access the Do512 website (and dozens of other cities across N. America). Log-in and the app will sync with your Do512 calendar on the desktop version.
HOTEL VEGAS PATIO:
6:30p – 7:10p Los Coast
7:30p – 8:10p Otis The Destroyer
8:30p – 9:10p Chipper Jones
9:45p – 10:30p Octopus Project
11p – 12a Riverboat Gamblers
504 EAST 6TH PATIO (HOTEL VEGAS ANNEX):
7p – 7:40p Wrestlers
8p – 8:45p Rubblebucket
9p – 10:30p S&S Ariel Dancers/Burlesque
10:30p – 11:30p Mike Relm
7p – 7:40p Crocodile
8p – 8:40p Mayeux & Broussard
9p – 9:45p A Sinclair
10p – 11p Al Lover
11p – 2a Cold Lampin
7p – 7:45p Comedy Hour Hosted by Danny Palumbo
9p – 10:30p Capyac
10:45p – 2a King Louie
Other notable events:
Capital One House at Antone’s Night 1
Capital One House – Antone’s – 3/12
Appropriately the first year of the Capital One House at SXSW is at a brand new venue, the new Antone’s Nightclub. recreated in the tradition of the original club this gorgeous venue is hosting several days of great lineups sponsored by a bank? Whatever. We included the event because they’re featuring a hip-hop focused lineup that features Common and NYC’s DJ Premier on March 12.
RSVP here and get there early because this one is sure to reach capacity in the tiny (but beautiful) club.
Other notable events:
Austin Rodeo with Willie Nelson and Family
Spring Break Boogie – Volstead Lounge at Hotel Vegas – 3/13
Local music blogs, Side One Track One and Austin Town Hall teamed up to bring SXSW music fans the best of Austin music at the Volstead Lounge on March 13. The party is called Spring Break Boogie (click to RSVP) but that may be a bit of a misnomer. Headliner Moving Panoramas are a shoegaze / psych rock trio that has grabbed the attention of music fans and critics alike. Add local garage-rockers Otis the Destroyer, BUHU and Lowin and you have a fantastic list acts to see curated by two of the best independent music blogs in town.
Strange Brew V – Hotel Vegas & Volstead – 3/14
This might be our favorite way to kick off music week on March 14. Technically music week begins on the 16th but you know what we mean. Curated by the Do512 staff, Strangebrew has always delivered the best punk, garage and indie rock you haven’t heard of yet. The fifth edition is no exception. Ok. Perhaps you know who Yuck is but if you’re not from Austin you may not be aware red-hot act Sweet Spirit are performing too. The group has toured and recorded with Spoon and just inked a deal with Nine Mile Records.
Other acts on the diverse bill include; DZ Deathrays, Car Seat Headrest, Methyl Ethyl and White Reaper. Also, how can you miss a band called Tacocat? We certainly cannot. If you missed it, click the link above to RSVP.
Other notable events 3/14:
Spotify House Day 1
All the Friends Ball
Lagunitas Couchtrippin’ – The Historic Scoot Inn – 3/16 – 12 pm
Lagunitas Couchtrippin’ has been one of the premier parties at SXSW the last few years and their 2016 music week lineup is no exception. Last year’s edition featured lines that wrapped around the block while fans enjoyed free craft beer and a raft of killer bands. BadBadNotGood, Lucius plus great Austin acts White Denim and The Black Angels will appear at the Historic Scoot Inn in East Austin on March 16 with a long list of SXSW performers.
RSVP for the free show (no badge required) and as always, arrive early as the venue will reach capacity.
Other notable events 3/16:
Austin Music Awards ($25)
House of Vans at The Mohawk
Burger Records’ Good Vibrations