19 March 2014

POSTCARD: SXSBroke - How To Enjoy SXSW For Free (And A $2 Bus Pass (and money for booze))

Editor's Note: I love postcards (it's like the Twitter of the letter-writing world. Ha!) and this love of postcards inspired me to start a new series on PetBearSounds.com in which I will post some digital postcards for your enjoyment. Ideally these bits of digital-ephemera will occupy the space between the quick Tweets/Instagrams and the longer-form posts.

To kick off this series we are pleased to introduce Evan Harris as our Austin, Texas correspondent. Harris spent some time exploring the budget-options at the increasingly-costly South by Southwest music festival and conference and came away with an embarrassment of riches. He managed to stay sober (kinda) long enough to send Pet Bear Sounds some postcards from SXSW. Here's the first of many. Enjoy!


It's become fashionable among a certain set of Austinites to grouse about how big and mean and corporate SXSW has become: Oh the traffic! Oh the long lines at my favorite taco truck! Oh the startups hawking their wares! Oh the myriad bands just trying to catch a record deal!

Please. That's the point of SXSW. That's what it does.

I love SXSW. I love the crowds, the madcap carnival atmosphere, the hustle of the bands and the marketing folks, the sheer over-the-topness of an entire city temporarily devoted to trying anything to grab your attention. A stage shaped like a massive Doritos vending machine? Dudes stopping you in the street to listen to their album? Legions of paid hotties handing out flyers and swag? Bar-after-bar of bands, snare hits and guitar riffs echoing down 6th Street? My gods, yes. That. More of that.

Maybe those Austinites are jaded and can't see the fact that for a week-and-a-half the groups that flood into this city are devoted entirely to impressing the shit out of you. And by and large they do a pretty good job of it.

Yes, it's gotten pretty expensive. Back in 1989 you could see a ton of local bands for just $10. These days a wristband for the music portion alone will set you back $100+. A badge for the whole festival can cost north of $500. But there's more to SXSW than the official events, and there's plenty of things to do and see all across the city that are completely free; I set out to explore as much of that as possible. More to follow!


Stay tuned for more postcards from our Austin correspondent throughout the next week or so!

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