Every year, SXSW is full of surprises. Secret shows, unexpected parties, Bill Murray bartending at Shangri-La — these things happen. But one thing you can always fall back on is the reliable parties and showcases that come back year after year. If you’re a SXSW vet this may be old news to you, but if you’re new to SXSW then hopefully this list can help. We’re basing this guide off of events of previous years, some party information expected to change. RSVPster is here to get you on the list for as many events as possible, but it’s always good to decide what your ‘can’t miss’ parties are for the festival. There are way too many free shows to fit into one post, so for now, here are 8 of the bigger free parties/showcases you should keep an eye on:
Lineup likely to be announced late Feb/early March via The Fader’s Twitter, RSVP will likely open 1 week before SXSW.
Fader Fort is probably the most obvious one. Year after year, their lineup is consistently amazing, and their venue is consistently difficult to get into. But if you wait out the long lines, you’ll be treated to free beer and some amazing shows. 2012’s lineup included Kendrick Lamar, Kimbra, Rick Ross, Danny Brown, Santigold, 2chainz, Fidlar, Big KRIT, Zola Jesus, SBTRKT, Action Bronson, Blood Orange, Hudson Mohawke… the list just goes on. 2011 lineup had Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, Odd Future, Wiz Khalifa, Matt & Kim, Young The Giant, Ellie Goulding, Macklemore, Lil B, James Blake, Jamie XX, Yelawolf… again, the list keeps going. It’s free, but RSVPs are strictly required and they’re limited. Last year, RSVPs were only open for a few hours. This will be a party you want to get into, so make sure to watch for the RSVP and lineup announcement closely.
Last year, Filter had 3 showcases: Showdown at Cedar Street, S.O.TERIK Now, and one co-sponsored with Dickies simply titled “Dickies.” In 2012’s lineup included Keane, Kendrick Lamar, Grimes, Built To Spill, Of Monsters And Men, Miike Snow, Imagine Dragons, of Montreal, Delta Spirit, Ed Sheeran, Reptar, Kaiser Chiefs, Kimbra and more. Obviously Filter is pretty set on having a killer lineup, and this year they’re bringing 97 bands to 4 different venues, so expect this year to be better than ever. Free shows, but RSVP is required,
MTVU Woodie Awards Festival
The Woodie Festival portion of the awards show was a new addition last year, but they’re coming back again. 2012’s lineup included Santigold, Steve Aoki, fun., Imagine Dragons, Chiddy Bang, A$AP Rocky, Gary Clark Jr. Machine Gun Kelly and more. This fest works a little differently. There’s no RSVPs, but you can pick up free tickets from the Austin Convention Center the day before. Free food and free drinks as well.
Brooklyn Vegan/Hotel Vegan
4 day event that’s free and open to the public, no RSVP required. 2012’s lineup included Of Monsters And Men, This will Destroy You, Fanfarlo, Flosstradamus Yellow Ostrich, Daughter, The Wedding Present, Japandroids and more. This is typically one of the more laid back parties, and something I always go back to. Free drinks are a plus, too.
Waterloo Records Parking Lot Shows
Lineup likely to be announced mid-to-late Feb. via Waterloo’s Twitter. No RSVP.
Austin’s very own Waterloo Records holds a fun and free showcase in their parking lot for four days. No RSVP required. 2012’s lineup included Blitzen Trapper, fun., Lucero, Say Anything, of Montreal, Talib Kweli, Youth Lagoon and more.
Date: Likely 3/10-16/2013
Lineup and RSVP likely to be announced late Feb. via PV’s Twitter.
Another party favorite, and another one that can be difficult to get into. Free of course, but RSVPs are strictly required. 2012’s lineup included Shiny Toy Guns, LIGHTS, Doomtree, Motion City Soundtrack, Hellogoodbye and more.
Date: Likely 3/14-15/2013
Lineup likely to be announced in late Feb. via Google’s SXSW Twitter. No RSVP.
Free, open to the public, no RSVPs. 2012’s lineup included The Shins, Heartless Bastards, The Ting Tings, Titus Andronicus, Cults and more.
This one is “free” — with a $5 donation. This one is always a bit different. Early each morning, artists play 2 acoustic songs and then have an interview with the radio host. It’s pretty nice though, low key, there’s usually free coffee and donuts, good way to start the day. 2012’s lineup included Ingrid Michaelson, fun., GIVERS, The Lumineers, Citizen Cope, Ben Kweller, Michael Kiwanuka and more.