SXSW FOR FREE
by Hayden Bach
Want to attend SXSW but can’t afford a music badge? SXSW offers plenty of free shows all across Austin. This year a music badge to SXSW cost just under $1,000, but someone without a music badge could potentially see the same number of shows as someone with a music badge and pay zero.
On March 12, The Rustic Tap, on West Sixth Street, offered a full day of live music shows for free. The acts included The Jonny Gray Band starting off the day, Origami Ghosts performing in the afternoon, and Jane N The Jungle wrapping up the performances in the evening.
“I’ve lived in Austin for five years now and I’ve never purchased a SXSW music badge,” said Corey Burnett while watching The Jonny Gray Band perform. “I am not interested in the big name artist that require a badge, the free performances are just fine with me.”
He is correct, if you are interested in seeing any of the big name performers, like Wiz Khalifa, Garth Brooks, or Kehlani, for example, you will need the music badge, but if you’re just at SXSW for the music and do not care who is performing, then the free shows are your best bet. Some people tend to buy a badge and attend the free shows anyway.
Origami Ghosts is an always changing band made up of Seattle natives John Paul Scesniak and whoever he decides to bring along.
“I buy a badge every year because I know there is always going to be someone I want to see where I will need the badge to get in, but I almost always go to more free shows where I don’t even need it,” said Marcus Garcia, another attendee of The Rustic Tap shows. Marcus is an Austin native who now owns and operates a graphic design business in Houston. “Besides, the big shows are insane most of the time, I really like being able to go to a show and relax and not worry about someone hitting or kicking me.”
This is also true for most free shows. You will very rarely see a free show where a line to get in is a block down the sidewalk or attendance is at the venue’s full capacity, but shows still see a good crowd with The Rustic Tap hosting around 200 people during The Jonny Gray Band’s performance.
“We love getting to play shows at SXSW,” said Jonny Gray, lead singer for The Jonny Gray Band. “The bars do not pay us a lot, but it’s more about attracting new fans for us. The more fans we attract, the longer we get to play music and SXSW is one of the best places to do so.”
So next year, if you’re running a little tight on money, but still want to enjoy the SXSW festivities, just take a stroll downtown and there is a good chance you will find a bar with live music and a band who would love you to come see them play.