Scott Sparling

Hallucinations, a blog about writing, trains, and Wire to Wire

Rules for SXSW

Posted on Mar 4th, 2011.

Time to switch all obsessing from fiction to music. SXSW is ten days away. Ears Two is sending spreadsheets almost hourly, mapping out which bands we must hear. (You remember Ears Two, my SXSW cohort with encyclopedic music knowledge.) The company laptop is jammed with sample mp3s and flashing “Low on Disk Space.”

Before things get any further out of control, here’s a partial list of rules for enjoying SXSW.

  • Arrive early. Stay late.
  • Don’t be greedy. Aim for one transcendent musical experience per day. Just have fun the rest of the time. (This one is tough. We want every set to be stellar.)
  • Build your schedule around Jon Dee Graham and Alejandro Escovedo. Fill in the blanks with everyone else.
  • But also, don’t follow your schedule or you’ll miss all the good stuff. Improvise. Give miracles a chance.
  • Get totally blown away by at least one band/singer you thought you’d hate. Get totally disappointed by at least one band/singer you thought you’d love.
  • No matter where you are, something better is happening somewhere else. Get used to it.
  • Crowds in the street are not a sign of good music inside.
  • If you meet the Buddha on the road, ask him if Mary Lou Lord is in town.
  • Avoid grackles.
  • The five-second rule does not apply to earplugs. When it hits the ground, it’s gone. Carry extra.
  • Do not try to live-tweet the festival.
  • Do try to find the cab driver with the big Tupperware container of frozen vegetables so you can work his profane dialogue into your next story.
  • Do not buy a guitar.
  • The festival is not a success unless you completely fill up an Amy’s ice cream punch card and get a free scoop at the airport the morning you leave.
  • It is okay to let people assume that, given your age and your badge, you must be a record producer or some other type of VIP. It is not okay to tell people that you have copyrighted the phrase “Check Check” or “Testing One Two.” Do not attempt to collect royalties for same.
  • When the temptation to get a tattoo or a cowboy hat becomes too strong, head home.


From SXSW 2009 -- Five days in three minutes.

Posted in Music