SXSW On the Cheap
February 17, 2005 4:41 PM   Subscribe

SXSW: is there a way open to common plebes to get in cheaper than the full pass prices? If not, is it worth it to pay the full price? Or alternatively, just going and hanging out in Austin and catching what one can?

I've got a free place to crash in Austin lined up. What other hints would you have for someone trying to go on the cheap?
posted by weston to Travel & Transportation around Austin, TX (10 answers total)
Some folks around here volunteer for SXSW and get free passes that way. It's a lot of work, so it's unlikely that one of these folks will just give you a spare pass except as a special favor.

Many, many people just go clubbing around sixth street and environs during SXSW. There's a lot of good (and bad) music available that you don't need a wristband for; since bands know that people come from all over the country for the event, and many don't get official billing, they just perform in the local venues that aren't associated with SXSW. It's it's good stuff, too -- just not "A" list for this particular event.
posted by Jonasio at 6:36 PM on February 17, 2005

I can make no claims that things are the exact same as the last time I bought a wristband, which was five years ago, but back then I found I was still waiting in line and missing parts of shows that I wanted to see which were back to back and too far apart.

You can get into most shows without a wristband if you show up early and decide you're not leaving. There are craploads of in-stores and usually a handful of free shows for the truly broke folk.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:54 PM on February 17, 2005

Are you looking to go for film, interactive or music or all three? The reason I ask is that the Interactive/Film badges are usually less money than the music ones. I'm not sure if you knew that or not.
posted by TeamBilly at 8:42 PM on February 17, 2005

Yeah, I noted the difference. If I could only go to one based on my financial limitations, I'd probably pick interactive. But I'd like to hit music and interactive, or maybe even just parts of both.
posted by weston at 9:34 PM on February 17, 2005

For music, there's a shitload of bands that play in the day/afternoon (often in record label showcases). They have smaller crowds and are free of charge even if you dont have a wristband (someone please correct me if i'm wrong because I would like to confirm this).

There's also those media parties (e.g. Spin, New Times) that are free but invite only. You can get a pass if you scmooze the right people or bat your eyelashes the right way.
posted by sammich at 9:36 PM on February 17, 2005

You do realize there's a difference between the multi-hundred dollar badges ... and wristbands, which get you into all the music shows, and cost $110-150.There are free shows during the day. But the FUN is at night. At night, to go to individual shows it costs $15-30. You also have to wait in LONG lines if you go that route and you can't leave a venue once you enter it -- so you are stuck for the evening there. To me it's worth a hundred bucks to get the wristband and have the ability to quickly come and go as I want.
posted by fourstar at 10:03 PM on February 17, 2005

fourstar -- no! I didn't realize that, and it makes a pretty big difference -- thank you!
posted by weston at 1:10 AM on February 18, 2005

Keep in mind that the badge holders have priority over wristband holders, so you might not be able to get into that show you want to go to with just a wristband.
posted by grouse at 1:37 AM on February 18, 2005

Oh then you should also note that at shows, priority goes to badgeholders first, wristbands second and then everyone else. So if you have a wristband and it's going to be a popular band (e.g. Raveonettes) I would get there at least an hour early or just forget about it. There are other times where I couldn't get in to see an band no one cares about because the band after them are in the buzz bin.

That's my biggest peeve about SXSW, queueing forever in the humid heat knowing there are better things I could be doing with my time like seeing other bands.
posted by sammich at 1:38 AM on February 18, 2005

grouse beat me by a minute!
posted by sammich at 1:39 AM on February 18, 2005

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