Celebrating its 25th year, the South by Southwest Music Conference kicks off tomorrow, March 16, and blazes its way through Sunday, March 20. It’s five crazy days of live music, panel discussions and industry trade shows. Over 2000 musical acts from 61 countries will perform on 90 stages across multiple venues in and around downtown Austin, Texas. Here’s a guide to conquering the live music mayhem!
Editorial Note: Part of this article first published as SXSW 2011 Preview on Blogcritics.
Since its inception in 1987, SXSW has become THE place for emerging indie-rock, rap, folk, and pop bands to rock their way onto the radar of labels and into the hearts and ears of music fans from all across the world. It’s even been the place for amazing Parking Lot Experiments by the Flaming Lips.
And in recent years, the festival has evolved from an underground and emerging music showcase to a place where established and household name acts such as Iggy Pop and the Stooges, Yoko Ono, Dolly Parton and the Beastie Boys also come to play and to share their industry knowledge for the next generation of musicians.
And in 2011, whether you’re heading out to see it live in person or watching at home, you can expect another rockin’ week of live music to come your way.
We’ll be live in Austin to cover the action, and here’s a quick preview of the bands and panel discussions we’re looking forward to checking out, an interactive mobile guide and a few online hubs where you can tune in to catch all the live action throughout the week.
Top Music Picks: Chart Your SXSW Course
With so much live music to soak up, it’s impossible to see it all, and the best part of SXSW is that you end up discovering new bands by accident as you explore and wander around the streets of Austin. For starters, The Strokes, TV on the Radio, Lupe Fiasco, Smith Westerns, Keys N Krates, Bright Eyes, The Seedy Seeds, California Wives, Hey Rosetta!, Gayngs and Sharon Van Etten are just a few of the bands on our must-see list and we’ll tell you more about them later.
But in the meantime, scope out the official SXSW schedule. And make sure to check out this handy list of unofficial shows here.
Download iTunes SXSW Playlist
Get your ears ready with a sonic snapshot of the mega-plethora bands playing this week by downloading the iTunes free SXSW playlist.
The Official SXSW Mobile App
We’ve definitely added the SXSW mobile app (iPhone and Android) to our Mobile app exploration because it’s a fantastic tool to help you plan your SXSW adventure and keep you plugged in as you move about downtown Austin.
Watch and Interact Online: AOL Surprise Shows, SXSW Hub
Of course you can get social with SXSW, and so do it and follow along on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
And if you’re looking for surprise shows as you cruise the festival grounds, then you might want to follow AOL Music at SXSW.
This year AOL Music will have three secret shows “pop up” at unexpected locations around Austin during SXSW Music.
Fans can follow @LiveFromAOL and @SXSW on Twitter to learn who’s playing when and where. Announcements for each show will happen 12-24 hours before the bands hit the stage.
You can also watch SXSW shows online and learn about the history of the trend-making festival by checking out AOL’s official hub.
Continuing our virtual concert explorations with Livestream, you can watch a whole bunch of SXSW performances via Livestream including:
Cool Panels, Concert Flicks, MOG Party and Jansport, Shure Battle of the Bands
There are several panel discussions that we’re looking forward to checking because they are of the live music variety:
First, here’s the documentary short film 100 Bands in 100 Days synopsis followed by the trailer. It’s certainly a film I’m very very interested in for obvious reasons:
“Nick Sonderup used to see a lot of live music. Then he wasn’t seeing as much anymore. He used to write about music. Then he wasn’t doing that much anymore, either. His band had just fallen apart. His girlfriend was living in London. Perhaps he was a bit lost. Perhaps he was a bit bored. He was most certainly a bit crazy when Nick embarked on a journey to see 100 consecutive days of live music, between January 23rd and May 2nd, 2009…and somehow managed to keep his day job.”
There other panels that we’re excited about are How to Build a Festival, Backstage Pass: The Lifecycle of Your Concert Ticket and What To Do When Your Artist is Addicted.
Our friends over at MOG Music are throwing a rad bash on March 19th from 12pm to 6pm at Mohawk with Big Boi, TV on the Radio and many others. And you can get more info on it here.
Lastly, we’ll be following up on the winning bands of Shure and Jansports Battle of the Band contest. So keep it right here for a full report to see how the winners rock the stage at SXSW.
That’s it for now! Have fun and stay tuned for more as we report back live from Austin with panel discussion news, updates, reviews and artist interviews!