Follow this unofficial 2017 guide to unofficial SXSW

Downtown Austin skyline, September 2015

Downtown Austin skyline, September 2015

There is no shortage of unofficial SXSW events—showcases, parties and demonstrations that are unaffiliated with South by Southwest Conferences & Festivals—taking place March 10-19 in Austin. Community Impact Newspaper has compiled a quick list of some notable unofficial highlights in and around the official SXSW festival zone:



Whole Foods Market hosts the Sixth annual Quantum Collective Southwest Invasion, March 16-18, as a benefit for the Whole Planet Foundation. Attendees can see sets by Modern English ("I Melt With You"), Hanson ("MMMBop") and Kate Nash ("Foundations"), among others. The event is notable for the debut of a new beer from Austin brewery Hops & Grain. Speakeasy IPA will be available on-site during the three-day festival, which is free (attendees must RSVP to attend) and features several dozen acts on two stages in downtown Austin. The event is open to all ages. RSVP here.

Way down in South Austin, the Red Shed Tavern hosts the Seventh annual Texas Indie Fest showcase Wednesday through Friday. Co-founder Ervin Pulliam said the event will feature more than 30 artists throughout the showcase, including David Justin, Scubadiver, No Deceit, Glass Mansions, Jimmy Wilden, David Martinez, Resz and the Motel Pines. The event is free and each day's lineup runs from 4 p.m. until midnight. Red Shed Tavern, 8504 S. Congress Ave., Austin. 512-280-4899.

Austin community radio stations, KOOP 91.7 FM and KAZI 88.7 FM, co-host Comm-Unity Fest at Kenny Dorham's Backyard, 1106 E. 11th St., Austin. The free family-friendly festival features vendors, food and music by gospel, hip-hop, rock, jazz and reggae artists. The event runs noon until midnight Friday and Saturday. The lineup includes Blue Gardenia, Mountebank and Swamp Bats on Friday. Saturday's schedule includes Black Dragon, Pentateuch Movement and Music 4 Life.



New York City’s Big Picture Media is hosting two free showcases this year. Catch tiLLie, Wyland and a special guest at 8 p.m. Wednesday at The Chuggin’ Monkey, 219 E. Sixth St., Austin. BPM is also hosting a day party featuring Kylie Hughes, The Cuckoos, Sweet Crude, Birthday Club, Luke Wade, pronoun, Emily Bell and KOLARS on Friday. Noon-6 p.m. Free. The Handlebar Rooftop, 121 E. Fifth St., Austin.


A longtime unofficial attraction, the RedGorilla Music Festival runs Monday to Saturday in venues up and down Sixth Street and is free and open to the public. Music fans can check out Ships have Sailed at the Rooftop Bar on Monday, The Lime Traders at the San Jac Saloon on Wednesday or Broke Royals at Darwin’s Pub on Saturday. A full schedule is available on the festival’s website.

Key Bar’s Festivus For the WEST of us gets underway Monday with acts scheduled from 6-10 p.m. The bar expands its daily schedule starting Wednesday with bands scheduled to play from 3 p.m.-midnight through Saturday. For a complete list of scheduled acts, visit Key Bar’s Facebook page. Key Bar, 617 W. Sixth St., Austin. 512-236-9389.

The Eighth annual Black Finger Party runs Wednesday through Saturday at The Dogwood. Bands start at noon and performances run until 10 p.m. Wednesday and until midnight Thursday through Saturday. RVSP to attend one or all of the showcases. 715 W. Sixth St., Austin.

Out in Southeast Austin, live music venue Texas Mist has organized a three-day schedule called “Rock Metal March” that features more than 20 bands between Wednesday and Friday. While there is a $5 cover charge for adults, minors can attend for $10. Bands include Taken by Tides, Black Rhino and The Dead Kids, to name a few. Check out the schedule at the venue’s Facebook page. 1115 Old Bastrop Highway, Austin.

In search of an exhaustive overview of all unofficial live music events and parties? Follow Unofficial SXSW 2017 at @SXUnofficial on Twitter for RSVP info and updates to schedules.


  • While not exactly SXSW-related, all locations of Little Woodrows will celebrate Pi Day on March 14 with free pizza from Brooklyn Pie Co. from 6-7 p.m.

The locations serving pizza include:

  • 5425 Burnet Road

  • 6301 W. Parmer Lane

  • 9500 I-3, Ste. 100

  • 12601 Tech Ridge Blvd.

  • Austin by Austin, a celebration of local businesses and creative communities, will be held March 11-19 and provides SXSW attendees a chance to explore Austin’s business districts. The program is presented by The Austin Chronicle and co-sponsored by the Austin Independent Business Alliance.  Freebies include carnations from Charlotte’s Fiesta Flowers, discounts from Ambrose Vin Taj, children’s face painting at SparkleKids and pop-up performances by Rapper SaulPaul.

    • Free Wi-Fi is hard to come by at SXSW. AT&T is providing free Wi-Fi spots at various locations along Sixth Street, the Warehouse District, Stubb’s Barbecue and Auditorium Shores.


  • Downtown


        • 119 E. Sixth St. (Littlefield Parking Garage)

        • 301 E. Sixth St. (Parkside Café)

        • 325 E. Sixth St. (Thirsty Nickel)

        • 421 E. Sixth St. (Pete's Piano Bar)

        • 522 E. Sixth St. (Wilson Brown)

        • 410 E. Sixth St. (Loft Apartments)


  • Stubbs


        • 801 Red River St. (Stubb’s)

        • 811 Trinity St. (Trinity Parking Garage)


  • Auditorium Shores

  • Warehouse District


      • 221 W. Sixth St. (Parking Garage)

      • 201 Third St. (Bob’s Steakhouse)

      • 390 Colorado St. (Sully’s Side Bar)

      • 407 Colorado St. (Frank’s Roof Top Bar)


  • The Rattle Inn holds its fourth annual Celebration by Beardbrand Wednesday with live music and free swag bags for the first 30 people to arrive. The event begins at 6 p.m.

  • Free bloody marys will be handed out during live musical performances at the KLRU and Austin City Limits sixth annual Bloody Mary Morning. Get them before they’re gone from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in the GSDM courtyard on March 16.

  • Free tacos abound at WP Engine’s Taco ‘Bout It event, held at Max’s Wine Dive at 9 a.m. Saturday. Hear a presentation from the Webby’s on how to win a Webby Award.

  • Get free drinks from the Barmadillo airstream during Austin Daily Press’s March Madness party, held Saturday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at 1900 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

  • More than 700 pounds of marshmallows and 5,000 chocolate bars will turn Downtown Austin into the s'mores capital of the world Sunday for the Second Annual SXS'mores tasting event. It’s held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Allen House, 1104 San Antonio St.

  • Bring your animals to the Pet Rescue Lounge at the Cedar Street Courtyard Monday starting at 5 p.m. for free drinks and snacks, gift bags, meet and greets with Instagram-famous pets and a photo booth.

  • Buy Me Brunch, an apparel brand based in Austin, is offering free drinks from Austin Eastsiders and free brunch from Forthright on March 16 starting at 11 a.m. at Forthright.

  • Front Gate Tickets’ 11th annual SXSW party includes Irish-inspired cocktails, brews and brunch from Snooze at the Front Gate Office, located at 1711 S. Congress Avenue. The event starts at noon March 17.

  • The SXSW Puppy Party at Rainey Street’s Lustre Pearl includes complimentary beverages, raffles and adoptable puppies. Held from noon-4 p.m. March 18.