SXSW Music: The Day Party Roundup

Dennis Shin

Greetings from Austin!

Aside from the gathering of industry professionals, artists, and media, SXSW has been a magnet for music fans, largely due to the influx, and exponential growth of free day party events. With many artists playing as many as half dozen or more showcases, the average music fan has countless opportunities to see their artist of choice. In a vicious cycle, the growing base of music fans inspires more events, which in turn attracts more people to Austin. So while the industry continues to genuflect over big picture issues, while fuming over the ongoing disappearance of revenue streams, day parties provide an informal opportunity for fans to interact with some of their favorite artists, while enjoying swag, booze, and treats courtesy of corporate and media sponsors, national music industry councils and labels. Here’s a sampling of some of the best day party events:

FADER FORT presented by Converse. One of the biggest and most prominent unofficial events is the Fader Fort, Fader magazine’s annual series of day party showcases across several blocks located in an open field just east of the Convention Center. The Fader event, a fixture at SXSW and CMJ, is known for its mixture of music, entertainment and pop culture, with the steady lineup of bands accompanied by plenty of free food, booze and swag, and amenities such as a wi-fi lounge and exhibits from corporate sponsors. Fader is known for its surprise guests, with drop in appearances by the likes of Kanye West, Bon Iver, and P. Diddy. In year’s past, Fader partnered with the likes of Levi’s and Fiat. The 2012 edition, sponsored by Converse, will feature performances by the likes of Oberhofer, Santigold, Gary Clark Jr., Zola Jesus, War on Drugs, Danny Brown, The-Dream, and Kendrick Lamar over its four days. The Fader Fort is located at 1101 E. 5th St. Additional information can be found here.

Paste Magazine. Each year, Paste Magazine hosts its no-nonsense day parties, a dense concentration of artists at its three day lineup of artists, from Wednesday through Friday. Some of the highlights of last year’s event included the Civil Wars and J Mascis. Highlights this year will include: Glen Hansard, Caveman, Tennis, the DBs, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Hospitality, Japandroids, the Belle Brigade, the Barr Brothers, JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound, the Wedding Present and Built to Spill. The event takes place on two stages at the Stage on Sixth Street, 508 E. Sixth St. Additional information can be found here.

Filter Magazine’s Showdown at Cedar Street and Culture Collide. Filter Magazine has been an old hat at SXSW day parties. One of the most memorable events was a breakout day party appearance by the Kaiser Chiefs in 2005 (an event which Filter is reprising this year). The main event, the Showdown at Cedar Street, will be held at the Cedar St. Courtyard, its open-air design offering the amenities of a club environment with exposure to the sky. The lineup for the Showdown, which runs from Thursday to Saturday includes: Zulu Winter, Band of Skulls, Kaiser Chiefs, Keane, Oberhofer, Built to Spill, We are Serenades, and Fanfarlo. A separate three- day event, to promote Filter’s annual Culture Collide festival, takes place at Bar 96 (96 Rainey St.) and will include shows by: Dinosaur Jr., Gardens & Villa, Lucero, and Maps & Atlases. If those weren’t enough, Filter partners with DIckies for three days of shows that occur next door at Lustre Pearl (97 Rainey St) with a lineup that includes: YACHT, the very in-demand Built to Spill, Deerhoof, the Drums, You’re your Hands Say Yeah, Miike Snow and Dinosaur Feathers. For more information check out the oh so useful Filter SXSW 2012 Cheat Sheet.

Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone’s Rock Room day parties at La Zona Rosa (612 W. 4th st.), one of the more spacious clubs in Austin, will include We Were Promised Jetpacks, Tennis, Hospitality, Tom Morella, and Gary Clark Jr. The event takes place Friday and Saturday.

National and Local Music Councils. While budgets are not what they once were for national industry music councils, the outdoor day parties remain a steadfast tradition. The diverse range of sponsoring organizations demonstrates the international and cosmopolitan feel of SXSW. The largest player is the British Music Embassy, the brand for an around the clock schedule of events put on by a pack of UK music councils. If you fashion yourself a fan of UK artists, take a seat and strap yourself in at Latitude 30 (512 San Jacinto), the home away from home for the UK music community. The event features events staged by the Wales, Scottish and Northern Ireland music councils and various other affiliated sponsors. The Irish music council holds its event, the Full Irish Breakfast on Friday, at BD Riley’s (204 E. 6th st.), typically taking advantage of SXSW’s proximity to St. Patrick’s Day. Other highlights include the Aussie BBQ on Saturday at Maggie May’s (323 E. 6th St), and day parties held by music councils representing Canada, France, Spain, Taiwan, Quebec, New Zealand. Elbowing its way into the mix is the Oklahoma music council, which drawing inspiration from the Brits, have taken over the Friend’s Bar (208 E. 6th St) and branding it as the Buffalo Exchange for a series of six music parties.

Hype Hotel. A new and most welcome event this year is the Hype Hotel, an event drawing curated by a broad range of indie and underground oriented blogs including Aquarium Drunkard, Gorilla vs. Bear, My Old Kentucky Blog, Yours Truly. Hype’s appeal, like the Pure Volume Music Lounge, is to serve as a hub for the army of blogs that are part of indie music’s broad DIY appeal. The event is certain to draw a broad range of music fans not affiliated with the conference or looking for evening options that don’t require a badge or wristband. The opening night party had a laid back, drama feel vibe, plenty of complementary Taco Bell treats, and a cutting edge lineup led by breakout performer Oberhofer. Some of the highlights for the week’s activities include sets by Miike Snow, Jimmy Cliff, Caveman, White Rabbits, Neon Indian and perhaps the most fascinating back-to-back combo, Best Coast and Wavves late Saturday night. The Hype Hotel is located at the Coppertank, 504 Trinity St.

East Austin Day Parties. Just beyond the outer reaches of the Fader Fort (and its moat) are a wide range of parties that expand the footprint of SXSW. The three most notable parties included Pitchfork’s Offline Festival, the no frills Mess With Texas, and an event held at the French Legation museum. The events are too numerous to mention, and we’ll add details about parties as they arise during the week. The most sprawling event this year is the Hotel Vegan, curated by popular tastemaker blog Brooklyn Vegan. The four days of day parties will include a who’s who of indie artists: Japandroids, Youth Lagoon, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Bear in Heaven, the Drums, Eleanor Friedberger, Light Asylum, Frankie Rose, Main Attrakionz, Hospitality, the Wedding Present, Glen Hansard, Wedding Present and Lucero. More information can be found here.

Spin Day Party. Finally, one of the most highly anticipated parties of the year is the Spin Party held each year at Stubbs (801 Red River), which in years past have included treats such as TV on the Radio, the Kills, Bloc Party, Carbon/Silicon, and Hole’s recent reboot. This year’s lineup for Friday includes: Santigold, Best Coast, Chairlift and the Big Pink. See for more information.

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