Music SXSW

5 unofficial music showcases to attend at SXSW

Hello, hello! It’s your friendly Shuffle Online music editor Lauren here. SXSW starts today, and if you were like me last year, trying to figure out what do, then your first time can be pretty intimidating.


So, before we get to the coolest unofficial SXSW parties, take a look at my previous article about what I learned from my first time tackling the unofficial events.

Now, even if you didn’t click on the link, let me tell you that plans definitely end up changing, so it’s always good to have backup plans. When going through sites like Do-512’s SXSW guide and Eventbrite, RSVP to anything that sounds remotely interesting. It doesn’t even have to be for the music, it could be an event that includes free tacos, that’s a totally legit thing to attend if ‘Plan A’ doesn’t work out (although I may tell you, free tacos should be your Plan A).

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If you find that a band you really want to see is playing somewhere, plan to camp out, EARLY. A lot of these free events (especially the ones in this article) fill up to capacity, and once people are in there, there’s little movement. Don’t kick yourself by showing up late and missing a chance to see your favorite artist up close and personal. Without further ado, here are the most popular unofficial SXSW events, all of which are free with RSVP.

1) Spotify House

  • Location: 1501 E. 6th St. 
  • Days: Mar. 14-18; First act starts at 9:30 a.m.
  • Notable acts: CHVRCHES, Kacey Musgraves, Låpsley, Neon Indian. Special appearance by Hannibal Buress

This is the fifth year for Spotify to participate in the SXSW festivities, and they have easily become one of the most popular. The music streaming service boasts of 45+ performances over two stages. Along with the artists, they are also featuring interactive elements, such as “Daily SoulCycle Rides” and a ChromeCast soundbooth. This event is outside, so be sure to bring sunscreen! For the official press release with more information click here.

2) Mazda + Hype Machine’s Hype Hotel

  • Location: 1100 E. 5th St,
  • Days: Mar. 14-19
  • Notable acts: Day Wave, Coast Modern, Polica, and more

The Hype Machine has had some pretty awesome shows in the past, this year is no different. Located just a couple of blocks away from the Spotify House, this one takes over a small warehouse for its showcase. Day acts are free with RSVP, which is a great way to catch some of the freshest new bands on the internet, but the big names that most people really recognize are during the evening shows, in which they give badge holders (and Mazda owners) priority. So, if you don’t have a badge, make sure the artist you’re trying to catch is playing during the day. Fun fact- Mazda is offering its complimentary ride service again during SXSW, just sign up here.

3) Flood Fest

  • Location: Cedar St. Courtyard (204 W. 4th Street)
  • Days: Mar. 16-19
  • Notable acts: The Heavy, Sir The Baptist, Petite Noir, Sun Club, Politica

This is Flood Magazine’s second year to host a showcase of artists. I had the pleasure of attending last year and was deeply impressed by the lineup, (full disclosure, I’ve also won tickets to a concert from Flood Magazine, so I’m a little partial). Their day bands, which are free with RSVP, are a fantastic line up, so I would definitely put this one at the top of your list. Last year I was able to show up fairly late (after 2 PM) and still get pretty close to the stage to see Years and Years, but I wouldn’t count on that luxury again this year.

4) Quantum Collective

  • Location: Whole Foods (525 N. Lamar Boulevard)
  • Days: Mar. 17-19
  • Notable Acts: Third Eye Blind, MSTRKRFT, Paper Lions, Deap Vally

Another one I personally experienced last year. This event has been a part of the unofficial SXSW scene for five years, and completely takes over the rooftop of Whole Foods. Not only do they have great music, but they also have a ton of vendors. Can you say free SWAG?

5) Pandora Discovery Den

  • Location: The Gatsby ( 708 E. 6th St, Austin, TX)
  • Days: Mar. 16-19
  • Notable acts: Bloc Party, Kevin Gates, Adventure Club, Jack Ingram

RSVP is currently closed. This one still deserves a headnod, since Pandora really has some awesome acts at this year’s Discovery Den, in which each day features a different genre. I was a little surprised that the RSVP was closed, but if by some miracle they open back up, I would definitely try to snag a RSVP.

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Stay updated with SXSW coverage on Twitter @shuffleonline.


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