Next week is SXSW (South by Southwest) in Austin so everyone should be prepared for a lot of entries! SXSW pretty much takes over downtown Austin for 10 days of music (conference + shows), interactive (conference) and film (conference and film festival).  They have even added a comedy component the last couple of years that has been growing significantly. I take the week off and check out a lot of movies and music, some comedy, and try to get some sleep.

The film festival lasts for the entire 10 days of SXSW. The films run the gamut of Hollywood fare, narratives, documentaries, shorts, etc. There are well over 100 films playing at 11 venues. Many are world, U.S. or regional premieres and often the lead actors, directors and producers are in attendance and do Q+A sessions after the films. Since there’s a music festival going on at the same time, there are several music-oriented films that have associated music-oriented events. For example. last year I went to a documentary on the Foo Fighters and everyone waiting on line for the movie was given tickets to an unannounced Foo Fighters concert at a nearby venue after the show. It was a good movie followed by a great concert afterwards!  I’m looking forward to seeing two music documentaries this year: Marley (a bio of Bob Marley) and Shut Up and Play the Hits (about the final shows performed by LCD SoundSystem).  I anticipate James Murphy from LCD SoundSystem will be at the screening.

SXSW is very accessible and I am able to get into most of the movies that I want. Most have 3 or 4 screenings during the 10 days (although the later screenings have fewer actors/directors/producers in attendance).   $80 film passes are available that get you in all screenings not filled up by badge holders.

SXSW music starts on Tuesday and runs through Saturday. More than 2000 bands of all genres play at more than 90 venues day and night. Many bands give multiple shows. Part of the fun is to try to find an up-and-coming act playing in some small venue before they really break out. The most anticipated show this year (and toughest ticket to come by) will be Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in an as-yet unannounced relatively small venue (probably 1500-2500 people). Tickets will be given out by lottery so I have my fingers crossed. The latest rumor I’ve heard is that Jay-Z and Eminem will also be putting on shows but we’ll see…

For the music, in addition to badges there are wrist bands available that will get you into most shows.  You can also volunteer to work for a few days and then get a wrist band for compensation. A lot of college kids do that and it  is what my son does.  The other option for music is to buy nothing and just do free or non official SXSW shows.  There are free shows at Auditorium Shores that include the Shins, Counting Crows and the Cult as well as others.  There are also many non-SXSW venues doing shows as well as official venues having free shows during the day.

I don’t really do much at SXSW interactive. For those interested here’s a link with info.  I think one of the keynote speakers is the head of Pinterest, the latest hot social networking phenomenon.

Last year was the the first year I went to one of the comedy events featuring John Oliver and several other comedians. This year I look forward to attending a live taping of my favorite podcast, WTF with Marc Maron.

I’ll try to keep everyone updated!

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