SXSW can seem like a luxury just out of reach for many young people. Even the press application process is tedious. If we’re being honest, though, the main event is a load of bullshit. Sure, you can watch a bunch of Silicon Valley dorks and out-of-touch corporate music executives drone on for a week, and maybe catch, like, Beach House or something for $400.
Fret not, there is an alternative. For just the cost of gas, and a gallon bag full of peanut butter sandwiches, you can hit up some of the best indie labels’ free unofficial showcases and not spend a dime. Here are a few of them:
Phluff’s Unofficial SXSW Showcase on March 14 and 15 @ Eden House Co-Op
Hosted and organized by Delaney Motter, the online music blog is throwing its inaugural showcase this year. Despite being in its infancy, this lineup packs some serious heat, featuring the likes of The Spirit of The Beehive, punk rock act Strange Ranger and indie rapper Nnamdi Ogbonnaya. The acts are diverse, lively, and inclusive, and are sure to entertain even the most discerning of festival goers. As an added bonus, the concerts take place in the co-ops, which are fraternities and sororities for those who consider themselves too good for Greek life. The drinks flow, and so does the music.
Adhoc x SXSW on March 14 @ Cheer Up Charlie’s
If the idea of seeing 20 bands in a residence doesn’t strike your fancy, Cheer Up Charlie’s is a popular venue in Austin. This lineup boasts Austin’s premier slowcore duo, Hovvdy, along with more experimental pop and indie acts like Crumb, Palm and Ought. Snail Mail, a charming indie rock band from Baltimore, closes out this show. With enough quiet bands padding the show, chances are it won’t get to out of hand. At least, one can only hope.
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Tiny Engines Unofficial Showcase on March 16 @ Hops and Grain
In addition to Adult Mom, and some others from previous entries in case you can’t make it to the midweek shows, the lineup also sports the Denton based bedroom pop act Crisman and Austin favorites AMA. This show takes place in a brewery, so you will be able to drink your fill without walking over to to the bodega for a tall can of PBR. It really does save a lot of time and more dignity than you would expect. Seriously, it may be on special across the street, but for the love of God just spend what little you have on an IPA like everyone else.
The Onion and A.V. Club on March 12 @ Mohawk
This is a supremely good lineup for the low, low price of free. It features Superchunk, Wye Oak, Lomelda, Shamir, Bully and even Lucy Dacus, who is fresh off a wonderful new record lease Historian. It has a little something for everyone: post-grunge, indie-folk, emo, bedroom pop and just good old indie rock. At the very least, it’ll get the weird hipster in your friend group to stop complaining. All you have to do is RSVP.
She Shreds on March 13 @ Kinda Tropical
This is an all femme lineup, featuring some of the premier artists in their field. The show boasts the likes of hard-hitting Speedy Ortiz, fronted by Sadie DuPuis, La Luz, Hinds, Snail Mail, breakout singer-songwriter Haley Heynderickx (no, seriously), who also just released her debut LP, along with everyone’s favorite shoegaze band that can only fit two or three songs in a 30-minute set, Mint Fields. In case you missed Shamir the day before, they are also on this lineup, and no, they won’t be playing songs from Ratchet. All the best bands are femme-fronted and this is the cream of the crop.