Harts' 10 Useful Tips To Make SXSW Worth Your While

22 March 2016 | 12:24 pm | Harts

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Travel Light

For musicians, the first thing I learned about doing showcases such as SXSW is the importance of simplifying your live set up and traveling light. Whether it’s for the purpose of efficiency on flights with baggage restrictions, airports or carting gear around on the many closed SXSW streets in Austin that vehicles can’t access. The lighter you can travel. The better.

Simplify your Live Set Up

Most showcase-type shows can get be pretty brutal to try to set up your gear in a quick change over, especially at a SXSW showcase with many bands sharing the same stage. Anything that can be left out to simplify your live rigs will help a lot. We travelled with the bare minimum that we needed to put on the show and everything was much easier to troubleshoot if something were to go wrong minutes before the set. Getting to the venue as early as possible to scope out things really helped too.

work on your Aussie Accent

Emphasis the ‘R’ in the word beer, otherwise people won’t understand your Aussie accent and won’t know what you're saying when asking for one. People also couldn’t understand my name when I would tell them ‘Harts’, so I found myself putting on an American accent to say it.

eat Texas BBQ

Iron Works BBQ in Austin, Texas has killer BBQ if you’re up for it.

get on Aussie BBQ

I played the Aussie BBQ at SXSW and the production and attendance was awesome. Definitely check it out. And for bands, try your best to get on that show!

Build attention for your show

There is SO much going on at SXSW and it’s simply not enough to just be accepted to play there. You have to work at getting people to your showcases, promoting why people should come out and see you/your band. Otherwise you could spend all that time and money getting there to play to nobody.

Get sleep whenever and wherever you can

Rest up whenever you can. 'Cause once it's go-time, no time for snoozing.

bring Power Adaptors/Transformer

This one stung me the first time I visited the U.S. Check to make sure your electronics run on 110V, which is the U.S voltage. Otherwise some Aussie devices that run on 220V might not work with just a regular pin adaptor. You’ll then need to get a power transformer to transform the voltage, which can be a hassle to track down if not prepared.

Stick to your strongest material

I dig taking the risk on playing brand new/never before heard material or spontaneous space jams, but you have to keep in mind for these type of showcases and situations (particularly when the sound and venue may not be great) that one misjudged song in your set can lead to people walking right out that door. There's so much going on at SXSW all the time and if people happened to have just walked in at a bad time, you ain’t gonna grip them to make them stay. Stick to your strongest and nail every moment.

You never know who is in the audience

Whether you're playing a show to 200 people or 20, always give them the best of you. At an industry festival like SXSW you never know exactly who you could be playing in front of. Do your best. Put on a show like you're playing to thousands and show them what you’re capable of. Industry people know what to expect from showcases like these; if things are going wrong on stage play through it, handle it and show them you can still kill in those type of scenarios and more importantly, the potential you have for bigger things.