March 13, 2013 at 11:18 am

7 Ways to Enjoy SXSW from Near or Afar


We are enjoying covering the madness at SXSW 2013 this week, although this time, due to logistics in our editor’s family life, we’re not physically there this year. It’s sad, in a way, to have to watch it from afar, as many can probably relate.

Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, we found six great ways to keep tabs on what’s going on in Austin, whether you’re stranded at home, or are actually there — because, as we know too well, even if your at SXSW, you’re always missing something. It’s just the nature of the beast

Without further ado, we present the Guide to SXSW For Those Near and Afar:

SXSWGoSXSW Go (iOS and Android; free)

The festival’s official app lists all the official events. Festival-goers, if you only download one app for SXSW, this would be a good choice. You can build your own schedule by adding events or syncing the festival schedule to your calendar; share your schedule so friends and contacts can see where you’re going to be; and see where they’re going, so you can arrange meet-ups. Of course, the app includes a handy map so you can find them, too. The Unofficial Schedule  (iOS and Android; free)

For years, has been the choice of the discerning SXSW attendee, due to its clean layout and the fact that in addition to the “official” events, it includes plenty of unofficial stuff too, at venues in Austin that aren’t part of the official SXSW, but which stuff have amazing shows going on anyway — often with some of the same bands that play the official events.

It’s not the only game in town though. To find more great-yet-unofficial events, check Eventbrite (iOS and Android); Austin Party Guide (iOS and Android); and Bizzabo (iOS and Android), all of which are also free to use. These event guides can be painful to view if you’re not in Austin, but that’s not the case for our next item.

Livestream Keynote Presentations

We began our coverage by catching the official livestream keynote presentations on day one, which was a great way to feel included, and you actually get a better view of the presenters than if you were there in person. We recommend taking a peek at the livestreams at each day, which bring you in the loop of what’s going on down there. You can even ask questions via Twitter at the end of each talk, using whatever hashtag the presenters specify.

There’s a catch: You need to watch them live. Today (Wednesday), options include the SXSW Music Radio Day stage (live performances), the SXSW Music Accelerator (a contest between startups), and the North Door Showcase (live performances). Also, do not miss Dave Grohl’s keynote on Thursday at noon, ET.

SXSW-pixablePixable (iOS and Android; free)

Pixable aggregates your friends’ photos and videos from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram so you can view everything in one place. If you have friends at SXSW, which you do, this app lets you see all their pictures and videos in one place. Better yet, follow the #SXSW hashtag to see everyone’s pictures from the event.

Download SXSW Music for Free

The music portion of SXSW began Tuesday and runs until Sunday, March 17, when the last hangover attendee stumbles to the last flight at Austin/Bergstrom International Airport. During that time, a ridiculous number of bands with even more ridiculous names plays at hundreds of venues all over town.

Whether you want to preview a band before deciding whether to catch their show, or you want to hear what you’re missing from home, this link provides a great way to download music from every single band playing. It actually might be too much of a good thing (the files contain 1,210 MP3s), but it gives you a shot at finding the stuff that’s for you.

Doritos #BoldStage

Beginning Thursday, March 14, Doritos will host three nights of interactive shows on their #BoldStage. We say “interactive” because, whether you’re at SXSW or not, you have a few options for being part of the experience.

First, you can help determine the actual course of the shows. By voicing your opinion on Twitter, you can help decide who will open for legendary hip hop artists LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Ice Cube, and Doug E. Fresh. Competitors include Devin Miles, Seth Sentry, and Snow Tha Product. You’ll also be able to control special effects, like smoke and lasers, during the show and vote on LL Cool J’s encore song.

If you can’t be there in person, don’t worry. You’ll also be able to catch the shows streaming live in 360 degrees on Doritos’ Facebook page and on your smartphone with the forthcoming Doritos360app, which should be out soon.

Spindle (iOS; free)

Previously only available in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, and Boston, this location-based discovery app just expanded to Seattle, Chicago and Austin… just in time for SXSW. Granted, this app is only useful for people who are actually there, but we’re including it anyway, because it’s worth checking out if you’re in one of the covered cities.

Spindle uses your location to find nearby businesses and points of interest, and then gives you the latest updates from their social networking sites. This way, you can find out in the moment what’s going on around you. Maybe a nearby venue is offering drink specials, or a band decided to make a last-minute appearance somewhere. With Spindle, you’ll be on it, whether in Austin or another metropolitan area.

Photo of SXSW 2013 courtesy of Flickr/adrants