March Madness: Festival Season in Texas Requires Stamina and Flexibility

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Stephen Masker
For the past three years, Spring Break in the state of Texas has been a frantic, music-fueled experience. 2009 brought us the first year of what is now commonly referred to as "festival season", when Chris Flemmons brought a budding young fest called NX35 to Denton. The idea? A small off-shoot festival for North Texas take advantage of touring acts on their way to South By Southwest. The result? Three years later, Spring Break for local music fans is a full time job requiring RSVP savvy, proper hydration and a whole lot of walking. But it's also become an endearing and specifically Texan experience.

Currently, we're smack dab in the middle of it all. With 35 Denton 2013 now behind us, SXSW Music is just kicking into gear down ol Austin way. Most Dallas artists, promoters, PR folk, music media, and the like have a one track mind right now. Talk within these networks right now has been that of a sole, singular topic. When are you getting to Austin? Where are you staying? Did you get a wristband for THE FADER FORT Presented by Converse? Two weeks ago, a friend of mine tweeted "I'm already tired of hearing you people talk about SXSW."

Texas music fans really get the best of both worlds during festival seasons. 35 Denton covers less ground, in very small & tight-knit community. As it grows year after year, it remains a more laid back and affordable weekend. SXSW, however, is balls out free-for-all with shows sprawling throughout the the city. Downtown Austin becomes an island of corporate propaganda and national marketing. By Saturday night, you start to feel like you're existing in a parallel universe where free drinks and wristbands are paramount, you can't feel your feet, and you're sustaining almost entirely on Death Metal Pizza.

If you're heading down to Austin (like I am tonight), there's a few things to keep in mind. Most blogs have posted long lists of pro-tips, so I won't bore you with cliches like "Sleep when you're dead." and "Network, network, network!". I think the most important SXSW commandment is to remain flexible. If you want to make God laugh, make a SXSW itinerary, or read him some Lil B lyrics. You have to be able to adapt to your surroundings and make decisions on your feet. With such an overwhelming amount of cool shows and events, the reality of the situation is, there's really no telling where you might end up. But at 5am, when you fall into the hotel bed or friend's floor that you're crashing on for your nightly disco nap, take comfort in knowing that wherever you end up, you'll still be in the Lone Star State.


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