SXSW is in full-swing this week down in Austin, and that means a constant blast of updates in your news feed from your friends and colleagues maxing out their annual diarrhea expense accounts. Many publications are eager to tell you the best ways to enjoy your time at the festival. All of those people are lying to you. Here’s some advice on how to do SXSW like a grizzled old man.
1) Don’t go.
2) OK, fine, go if you must, but ask yourself this first: Are you 22 years old? You are not. You are an adult person who doesn’t have the stomach/knees/attention span to see more than three bands in a day, never mind 15-20. You can see three great bands tonight in your very own city, and it’ll be a lot cheaper to get a cab back home to your own apartment afterwards without swimming upstream against a churning stew of spawning-ground-bound mackerel in cut off jorts and flourescent tank tops.
3) Over do it the first night you’re there. Stay up all night drinking and partying, that way your body will provide you a natural excuse to skip out on all the outdoor mid-day showcases headlined by the sun with a special DJ set by your charred skin that you didn’t really want to go to anyway tomorrow.
4) Make plans to meet up with all of your colleagues and professional acquaintances you know from Twitter. You won’t actually do it, of course, because you’re at this one thing, and they’re all the way down the block at another thing many multiple foot steps away, and, well, it’s probably going to be awkward anyway, so just throw them a “you know how it is” @reply and save everyone the trouble of yelling into each other’s ear about your projects in the middle of a loud club. Maybe catch up at CMJ though, for sure. Definitely see you there. Will be cool to meet in person.
5) RSVP to everything. That way you can walk around knowing you have the option to go wait in line for an hour at the three big events every single other person has RSVP’d to, thereby making it impossible for anyone to get in.
6) Get really excited about standing in line to eat BBQ prepared inside of a truck parked on the side of the road. Everyone knows food made in a smaller, more mobile kitchen is more authentic than musty old non-moveable kitchen food.
7) Take a picture of that plate of BBQ as soon as you get it, because it’s going to end up smeared all over your tits in about thirty seconds when someone jostles into you in the crowded street you are standing on with a plate of BBQ in one hand and a camera phone in the other.
8) Take a picture of every band you see. You won’t remember who they were or what they sounded like an hour later, but you never know when that band no one is watching is going to be the band that everyone is waiting in line to see next year, so you can whip it out and prove to everyone how ahead of the curve you were when you’re writing about why you didn’t end up going back this year.
9) Speaking of taking pictures, make sure you bring an extra battery pack for your phone, because about four Instagram uploads into the day you’re going to be out of juice, particularly since there are literally tens of thousands of other people just like you doing the same thing, so finding a wifi signal is a big energy drain. Consider strapping some sort of military-grade satellite uplink apparatus to your backpack for more efficient communication channel access. Bonus points for being the dude with the weirdest shit strapped to his back pack, a contest for which, to be honest, the competition is already going to be really stiff.
10) Are you the most relevant/hippest/most hooked-in person in your particular regional music industry scene? Fuck you, now you’re no one. SXSW is basically the Harvard/New York City of music festivals, where every small town’s valedictorian/prettiest girl floats in on a cloud of ambition only to realize how average they really are and that no one gives a shit.
11) Find out where the biggest name TV/film/major label music artists are hanging out/having their picture taken hanging out, then promptly walk in the other direction. There is no there there, as Gertrude Stein pointed out in her early SXSW reviews.
12) As for getting as far away from those overexposed celebrity events as fast as possible, consider hiring one of Austin’s many bike-taxis, then realize how uncomfortable it is to bounce around in the back of the modern equivalent of a horse-drawn carriage hungover, oozing booze, with a stomach full of truck Mexican, while watching some local scenester with plugs get the first honest workout they’ve had since last year hauling your fat ass around.
13) Find out where all the bands from your own hometown are playing, and go hang out there. All of your actual local colleagues will be there too. There’s just something more exciting about seeing people who you barely talk to the rest of the year when you see them in an entirely different city. Suggested topics of conversation: “Hey, isn’t this cool that we’re talking to each other in an entirely different city?”
14) Leave your shirt on. No, seriously, just please do this. Just because you’re drunk enough to act like a nipple doesn’t mean we want you rubbing up against your actual pair in the middle of a packed crowd.
15) Go anyway. Where else are you going to find such bountiful material to bitch about?