For the folks out there fortunate enough to be headed down to Texas for this year's South by Southwest Festival, you're most likely looking forward to stellar music, warm weather and, of course, the free booze and Southern women. But tackling such an event (or any music festival for that matter) can be a bit daunting. We reached out to local boys Billy Nachman and Hobson Brown, founders of Criquet, the laid-back vintage inspired shirt brand, for some guidance. Herewith, some insider tips to help you navigate the journey.
Your short sleeve shirt of choice.
"I'd recommend not trying too hard with that obscure band's faded tour T-shirt that shows off your music nerddom. There are a lot of those at SXSW, so they won't earn you bonus points. Something simple, comfortable and versatile will do."
Players polo, $75 by Criquet
"You'll get plenty of wear out your jeans, however a pair of shorts won't leave you swampy after 12 hours of walking (and waiting) around the city. Nothing ruins a perfectly good trip like chafing."
Chambray shorts, $70 at J.Crew
Cotton sweater or other long sleeve shirt.
"Roll up the sleeves or tie it around your waist until the nighttime chill inevitably sets in. It's just enough and not too much."
Western shirt, $50 by Levi's
Your swim trunks.
"Yes, winter's still raging in most of the country, but Austin in March is usually 80+ degrees. The perfect way to shake the cobwebs or recharge your batteries after hours of loud music and crowded bars? A jump in Barton Springs."
Go local. Take some time away from the music and the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds to shop at some men's stores like Stag, Service and By George. Grab an expertly-mixed drink from Blackheart, a 125-year-old house that's been converted into a whiskey bar (above). Or soak up the booze with some deep fried specialities from the popular Fried and True food truck (below).
Water. Beer. Repeat (or reverse).
Expect to wait, even if you've RSVP'd. Don't think that because you got an RSVP invite to a party, that 10,000 other people are not on the same list.
You'll be walking ... a lot. Or try grabbing one of the new shared city bikes around town. We're no Amsterdam, but a savvy SXSWer could plan his day around the various bike stations. Cabs and traffic are brutal and driving can be frustrating. If there's one thing that Austin is bad at, it's managing traffic. Enjoy the walks and take in the city. There will be lots of unexpected stops along any journey—such is the beauty of SXSW.
If you find a place/ show/ venue that you like, stay put. No matter how much you schedule and plan to see, you'll inevitably miss more than you see, and you will spend half your day waiting in lines and getting around town. Enjoy the unexpected and the unknown. It's great to see the bands that you know ... it's even better to find ones that you don't.