The 2010 South by Southwest Music Festival kicks off tonight, featuring bands like Fanfarlo and She & Him. This year’s line-up presents 1,900 musical acts on 89 stages in venues located throughout the city of Austin — so if you don’t have your shit together, you might find yourself stumbling down 6th Street like the Ghost of Real World Season XVI Past. Here are some tips to get you SXSW-savvy
Download the iPhone App – For the love of god. The my.SXSW application provides official social networking and scheduling for SXSW 2010, allowing you to view and build your schedule, map conference and festival events each hour, exchange contact info with people you meet, view news, and search attendees, events, and venues all from the your little magic box. No iPhone? You can still use my.SXSW online, but you’ll probably need a map.
Be realistic – Are you really going to be able to see the 11:45pm Shwayze show at The Phoenix and attend the 12:30am The xx show at Central Pres across town? Drunk? The best way to handle SXSW is to prioritize and stick with a small number of venues that are within walking distance of each other. There are a few venues that have solid line ups all day — especially around Red River and or 6th Street — it might be worth it to stick it out at Mohawk for a few hours if you really want to see a certain band. Establish a good viewing location, order a Tecate, and relax.
Twitter – Way back when in 2007, SXSW is what tipped the microblogging site into the mainstream. But not only is there history, it will help keep you updated on all the big bashes and events. Follow local news outlets such as SXSWist (@sxswist), Austin 360 (@360sxsw) for starters. Some supplements include @SXSWfreeNOMS, @SXSWPartyList, and Brooklyn Vegan @BVSXSW.
Eat right – This is the only time I would ever discourage heavy amounts of Tex-Mex or bar-b-q. Spicy food + long lines at Port-a-Potties = well, you do the math. That said, some really great alternatives with Texas flavor around the area include Thundercloud Subs for a quick and easy sandwich on the go, Austin Java for a pick-me-up, and Kerbey Lane Café for all-nighter diner fare.
Drink right – Of course, you know how to do this. But in case you want a more authentic Austin drinking experience, try some of the local beers on tap. Live Oak uses a rare, old-world style of brewing that gives it a rich, malty flavor, and Real Ale’s spring release, “Devil’s Backbone”, uses house made candy sugar for a distinctive flavor.
See also: The 5 Hottest Places in Austin for SXSW