Everyone knows festivals are the most unpredictable beasts--all your best laid plans can go awry within minutes of setting foot in a new city. Whether it be because of an unexpected secret show, unfamiliarity with public transit or just taking one shot too many, most of us struggle to stick to a set regimen when it comes to an event as massive as SXSW. Having said that though, I've been a music journalist for about three years now and 2014 marks my first time making the jaunt down to Austin, so I've got unreasonably high expectations about what I want to accomplish.

But, I was late on planning so I'm badgeless and broke, looking for as much free food, drink and guest list spots as possible. I'll be detailing what goes down in reality in diary-like form for 405 readers, but to get us started I have highlighted what some of my personal picks are for each day. Peruse to live vicariously if you won't be going to Austin, or, use it in addition to your own guide if you're attending. Happy festing!


Tuesday, March 11

Audiofemme Emerging Artists Showcase at Parish


Most people are still settling into the swing of things on Tuesday, but there's still a few highlights of the day. Firstly, the Audiofemme day showcase from 11 AM - 6 PM that's being held at Parish. Full disclosure, I'm a guest editor at the site and helped clinch a berth in the show for Jess Williamson, an Austin local who dabbles in folk and lyrical acoustic songs. But the other Audiofemme editors Marianne White and Lindsey Rhoades have great taste or I wouldn't want to work with them--other acts to catch here include Highasakite, Fenster and Weeknight. 

When the evening hits, I'll head to the Spotify House to see WET, a New York dream pop woozy favorite, Tove Lo and Jungle. If I get the chance to party hop, then I'll head to the Harvest Records showcase that night to get a chance to see some buzzy acts before it gets too crowded. Their bill boasts LA electronic fashionista Banks, Young & Sick and the UK's own stunning quartet Arthur Beatrice.


Wednesday, March 12

Fader Fort is in full swing from Wednesday through Saturday, but the lineup for today is probably the one to catch. Not only is it the most diverse but it has some acts that won't be as easy to spot anywhere else. I'm talking about Big Freedia and Isaiah Rashad--who are both on a career bump at the moment--from Freedia's original inclinations toward twerking to Isaiah's tip off as Top Dawg Entertainment's next big thing. And they're sharing the bill with acts like Bipolar Sunshine, psych rock purveyors Temples, Sage the Gemini and the fast-rising London Grammar. It all starts around 1:30 so you have plenty of time to grab breakfast first.

Other parties I'm interested for Wednesday are the SPIN magazine lineup which includes female rising stars in almost ever genre: country-baked Lydia Loveless, R&B electrified doo wop from Kelela, the sprawling rock of Dum Dum Girls, Charli XCX's post-pop pastiche and Angel Olsen's celestial acoustic mourning. This all begins around 12:30 PM.

Consequence of Sound will be helming Hype Hotel during the day on Wednesday too, starting around 12 PM and boasting a lineup that includes Brooklyn's crisp indie rockers Hospitality, Wye Oak and Against Me! among others. Free Taco Bell is a pretty big draw here too, not going to hide that.

On Wednesday I'll also have the privilege of attending an official session due to the good graces of Stephen Tom Erlewine, a Senior Editor at Rovi and deeply involved with All Music Guide. He'll be speaking in conjunction with a few other presenters on the topic of how to get your music heard in the streaming age. If you have a pass, make sure to check this one out.


Thursday, March 13

Today, the Stereogum lineup is practically perfect. EMA, Mutual Benefit, Woman's Hour and Pure Bathing Culture are just a few of the bands they've booked but these four are the one's I'm most excited to see live. EMA has a new record coming out in April, her sophomore album called The Future's Void. I've already had the chance to hear it--somehow it seems to top even her highly-praised debut Past Life Martyred Saints (check exactly). I've never seen her live and this seems like a great place to do it. Mutual Benefit's moody, orchestral folk should be great live too if this Yours Truly video is any testament. Woman's Hour is another band that should be on everyone's radar for this year--they channel the '80s through a woozy, cloudy production lens that holds my interest even amid thousands of other electronic and emotional based acts. I've seen Pure Bathing Culture a bunch already but their Portland brand of dream pop is a solid favorite.

My other stop for the day would be the Dickies Roadhouse party, which includes ASTR, Haerts and Little Dragon. I've yet to catch a Little Dragon set live and the Haerts EP Hemiplegia became one of my favorites to play last winter--all the yearning and drama of rock and roll but dialed down to a slow burn. This one's from noon to midnight so if you want to, you can stay in one place all day.


Friday, March 14



If I actually make it through the schedule I've detailed above, then I'll have seen most of the acts I want to make sure I see while in Austin, so today will be devoted to dabbling in obscurity or bands I've somehow missed up to this point. The Spotify House will have an old folksy favorite Shakey Graves playing, along with the earnest Vance Joy, suburban looped lo-fi bliss from Real Estate and a nu-soul favorite I discovered last weekend in Savannah: St. Paul and the Broken Bones.

Today is the other day I might head back to Fader Fort too, they've got Feathers, Jerome LOL, Vic Mensa, Young Thug and even Swedish pop princess MO. Fader's knack for blending hip-hop and pop/rock lineups is truly a testament to their booking skills.

In the evening I'm going to try to hit up Red Bull's Sound Select party, which will feature Sleigh Bells and Tink. But I honest to god don't know what and where I will even be by this night.


Saturday, March 15

Saturday is the last chance day, but also the day most people will reach peak exhaustion. I plan to get some barbeque at the New West Records Guitar Pull and check out Nikki Lane--an alt-country artist whose sophomore record was produced by Dan Auerbach and will be out on May 6. Robert Ellis will also play the showcase and after getting a glimpse of him at Mercury Lounge a few weeks ago I'm eager to see more.

After this, I am going to let the last night take me wherever it goes. No planning for the final evening in Austin: 100% YOLO.

Head here to visit The 405's SXSW 2014 hub.