Even with an event as big and attention-grabbing as SXSW, many of us find ourselves still scrambling at the last minute to plan something fun. This usually means trying to find events that don’t require a badge or wristband, something that takes time — and lots of it.
With SXSW officially kicking off March 8, we've combed through emails, tapped insiders, and scouted listings to find the best music events that require nothing more than your smile and/or an RSVP to gain entry.
By the way, any event that prioritizes badge and wristband holders wasn’t included here. These are just free-for-alls.
Austin Town Hall vs Side One Track One — March 10
On March 10, get yourself mentally prepared for SXSW Music, which officially kicks off the next day, with Austin Town Hall vs Side One Track One at Hotel Vegas and Volstead. The all-local affair, put on by two Austin music blogs, features three stages and 30 bands, including Moving Panoramas, Emily Wolfe, Quiet Company, Abram Shook, Lowinm, and Flesh Lights. The first band at this show takes the stage at 2 pm. No RSVP required.
Strange Brew VIII — March 11
Get wild on a Monday during Strange Brew VIII, also hosted at Hotel Vegas and Volstead. The bill is headlined by the Oh Sees and is filled out with quality acts like Black Belt Eagle Scout, Thelma And The Sleaze, Annabelle Chairlegs, Smiile, Being Dead, and lots more. RSVP here.
Stereogum Range Life 2019 — March 12-13
Stereogum’s Range Life 2019 takes over Cheer Up Charlies March 12-13. The diverse bill features Rico Nasty, Sasami, Sir Babygirl, The Beths, and more of SXSW’s most buzzed about artists. Plus, you can catch vets like Nothing, Charly Bliss, and Priests. Hard to go wrong on either day here. Music starts at noon. RSVP here.
Waterloo Records — March 13-15
Waterloo Records returns with another year of prime parking lot parties. Beginning March 13, drop in and see the likes of Steve Earle, The Bright Light Social Hour, The Chills, Spiral Stairs, Illuminati Hotties, and more. Music each day starts at 1 pm. No RSVP required.
South By San Jose — March 13-16
From March 13-16, South By San Jose once again returns to Hotel San Jose with a lineup of great bands and the perfect location for those who don’t want to venture downtown. Highlights this year include Broken Social Scene, Swervedriver, Hayes Carll, Ben Kweller, Black Pumas, Robert Ellis, and Haelos. Shop local vendors and more while you listen. Things will get underway at noon each day. No RSVP required.
9th Annual Lucy’s South By South Austin Fried Chicken Revival
— March 13-17
For those of you on the hunt for something that’s both kid friendly and loaded with great bands, there’s the 9th Annual Lucy’s South By South Austin Fried Chicken Revival. Taking place at Lucy’s Fried Chicken on 2218 College Ave. in South Austin, the event features 35 bands. Highlights include Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Shinyribs, Matthew Logan Vasquez, Erika Wennerstrom, Low Cut Connie, and Ian Moore. Noon is the start time each day. No RSVP required.
SXSW Outdoor Stage — March 14-16
The SXSW Outdoor Stage once again takes over Auditorium Shores with a variety of notable artists, such as Patty Griffin, Andrew Bird, X Ambassadors, and more. The night shows are free with a SXSW guest pass, which you can get here. The pass also grants you access to the SXSW Wellness Expo, the SXSW Marketplace, Flatstock 69, and more.
The Big One — March 16
If you’re looking to just jump in on a single party during SXSW, you could a lot worse than Do512’s The Big One at Barracuda. The lineup is loaded with fun acts like Durand & The Indications, Reignwolf, Walker Lukens, Mike Krol, and more. The start time here is basically sunrise in SXSW time — 11:30 am — but it’s a blowout worth rallying early for. RSVP here.