SXSW feels exciting again this year.
This is the first year that major A-list artists and massive brands seem to skipping over the festival, with a growing chorus of industry insiders seemingly shrugging, “I’ll pass this time.”
That’s good news for the rest of us.
There are close to 2,000 bands headed to Austin, Texas, this week, looking for the right break. And without the distraction of established acts, there’s a chance for some real discovery this year. Flagship DIY labels like Burger, Don Giovanni, and Gnar Tapes have never failed in hosting the best showcases of the festival, albeit mostly unofficially, but now, there are even more mid-sized, mom-and-pop imprints with incredible rosters hosting pop-up shows of their own.
Day parties, pool parties, house parties, free food or beer, BYOB, or worst-case scenario, bucket beers: You can find it all in Austin or a stone’s throw away. I spend most of my time at the unofficial events, where you don’t need a badge or a cover to stumble upon your new favorite band. I’d recommend hitting up at least a few of these events: Texas Is Funny, Fleeting Youth, Exploding In Sound, and Weinermania. And don’t miss the She Shreds and Tom Tom magazine parties, celebrating more great female-fronted bands playing this year, including Dirty Dishes, Chastity Belt, Mega Bog, Glish, Girlpool, and Football.
If you still need more ideas, here’s my third annual playlist of must-see bands at SXSW 2015.
Photo of Girlpool by Alice Baxley