Music Festivals

SXSW Travelogue: Ballin' on a budget with Backbeat's own Brian Frederick

Thursday, March 17

From the outside looking in, South By Southwest -- at least to those who haven't experienced it yet -- might seem like an event that only those who can afford to flip for the nearly $800 badges get to enjoy. Not so much. There's a ton of unofficial shows and parties all week that don't cost a dime. If it's ballin' on a budget you're looking for, it can be done. I should know. This is my fourth year doing SXSW without a badge, and let's just say there's plenty of fun to be had.

Fact is, on any given day throughout the fest, there are at least more than fifty parties offering everything from ridiculous drink specials to free taco bars to give-a-ways beyond comprehension. Companies pull out all the stops to attract attention. After all, there's a small Texas town's worth of people who make their way through the city during the fest. People like me.

You'd think "stopping by" Las Vegas before the week of madness begins would be a good idea. Well, it was. Brilliant, in fact. So brilliant my hangover didn't stay in Vegas and made it so that I'd have to rally on the first day out of four, and that wasn't easy. It did make a little more comfortable though when I stepped off the plane and the first of many pop-up stages was waiting for me in the terminal.

Austin touts itself as the music capitol of the world, and it's really hard to argue with that when live music greets you at the airport, accompanies you on the street as you walk to your hotel, follows you into lobby and constantly thumps on your windows through all odd hours of the night. Whenever you finally get to sleep, that is.

On Wednesday night, we caught some great sets from P.O.S., who played a new track he'd done with Astronautalis, and the guys from the Rouge, former Denverites now living in Nashville, who played a blistering 45-minute set at Darwin's pub. The dudes have been hard at work in the studio, but wanted to let everyone in Denver know that they miss them.

Best part of SXSW? About 15,000 or so bands from around the world converge in Austin this week for SXSW. Poke your head into anywhere in this city that can hold a stage and you're bound to find music. After trolling for the free beer, we found some, and found one of my new favorites of the festival Random Recipe, a saucy blend of foreign flare mixed with an indie/Rasta vibe.

Want to get in on at least some of the action? The Fader Fort is going to be live streaming all day today. The stream is free, but even better, the party is free. Here we go!

All week, various Denverites will be checking in from Austin with travelogues about their trip to SXSW this year. Read the various exploits of Brian Frederick, The Epilogues, A. Tom Collins, Danielle Ate the Sandwich, the Photo Atlas, Air Dubai, Take to the Oars and Wheelchair Sports Camp.

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