TGTF Guide to SXSW 2013: A Punter’s Survival Kit

By on Monday, 4th March 2013 at 11:00 am

Having the benefit of my last year’s experience attending SXSW 2012 and knowing several of my British music industry friends will be event virgins this year, I thought it would be useful to provide a list of items that no SXSW punter should be without. These are things that you might have already considered bringing…and some things that you might not have considered at all.

1. Comfortable walking shoes. I’m mainly talking to you women who want to wear ‘cute’ sandals to show off for your pedicure and heels to show off your legs. Forget it. Seriously. It’s not worth it. After spending 5 days in agony last year wearing what I thought to be decent walking shoes (evidently they weren’t), I’m spending the majority, if not all of my time, in Austin wearing comfy New Balance trainers. It also helps if you…

2. Travel light. I know, not really an item, but I learned the hard way at SXSW 2012 that carrying loads of things on your shoulders will lead to bag handle burn on your skin. Not really sure how I’m going to get around this, since I need to bring a voice recorder, several cameras and a notebook with me, but just something to keep in mind. Now back to things you should be carrying…

3. Suncream of SPF 40 or above. Bring it and use it! Do not underestimate the power of the sun in Austin if you out and about during daylight hours. If you are particularly sensitive to the sun and prone to sunburn like yours truly, I also recommend…

4. A collapsible, wide-brimmed sun hat or small umbrella. Also handy in case a magazine decides to photograph a crowd, as you’ll be easily identifiable by your mates. While we’re on the subject of the heat, something else that might come in handy…

5. A small towel or disposable facial cloths. Being able to wipe off a sweaty, gross brow with something clean is a luxury you won’t believe and just a little bit of freshening up goes a long way to making yourself feel that much more sprightly.

6. Cash. Saves times waiting in ATM / cash point lines, and certainly saves time if all you want is one drink from a bar or club and can hand over something physical to a bartender to get immediate change back. Also handy if and when you need to hail a pedicab or taxi to get to a venue quickly. That said, it is also useful to carry…

7. Plastic, aka credit cards. If your intention is to stay in one bar or club all night and get entirely pissed at said place, then start a tab. Of course, if you want to do SXSW on the cheap, I advise bringing…

8. A small, empty water bottle that you can refill at public fountains, restaurants, bars, etc. Do note that if you plan to bring bottled water, some establishments will confiscate any bottles with liquid in them or force you to empty the contents of them before entering their venue. And from liquids we go to technology and…

9. Your phone’s charger, and if possible, a small power strip. The former is in case your phone decides to die on you, because as we all know, phones always die on us when we need them the most. The latter will allow you to share those ever so rare during SXSW unused power sockets and make friendships that will last forever. For my recent trip to Australia, I bought a power strip with USB ports and a swiveling head and plan to bring this round with me at SXSW to come to the aid of fellow punters. Another option if you’re feeling flush with cash, this year you can rent a Mobile Locker for US$20 a day, which affords you a secure and convenient way for you to charge your mobile and iPad, as well as store items such as clothes and luggage.

Have I missed anything? Let us know in the comments!

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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