I figure I need to post some obligatory SXSW photos since I live in the city of SXSW and I’ve already gone to a couple of shows. Word of advice though. Don’t think you have to shell out hundreds, or even thousands to see bands and get free stuff. Yeah, some of the bands I’ve seen no one’s ever heard of, but that’s part of the fun of SXSW. You get to see some great shows before these bands get big. For instance, the hubs saw Fun. before they blew up on the radio. Cool, right? And you never know what you’re going to find. My second piece of advice: have a fluid plan before you head. Know of a couple of shows you want to see, and head to them, but don’t be disappointed if they’re filled up and you can’t get in, or you don’t want to wait four hours to get a wristband for one show. Have a secondary plan, and keep your eyes peeled. For instance, we went down to Cheer Up Charlie’s last Wednesday, purely because the Humane Society had cat’s you could pet and were going to have some free music later in the evening (after the cats had gone home of course).

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We started there, checking out the cats but grew bored. I was hoping for more cats, but they’d only brought a handful. So we moved on. We went over to Casino El Camino and split the amazing Armadillo burger with fries. My throat was burning beautifully after, so we headed over to my favorite bar, The Gingerman, for  a pint. We hung out there for a while, until we figured the bands would be starting up back at Cheer Up Charlies. We walked in that direction, but got caught up at Stubbs. The husband noticed some posters on the wall. Free Battle of the Bands concert at Stubbs plus and special guest. We were right by Stubbs so we went in. Well, it just turned out our luck was on our side that night. We ended up with special wrist bands that got us free beer all night. And not just Lone Stars or Miller’s, but anything. Brooklyn, Austin Beerworks. Beautiful.

We watched the bands battle it out. They even tried to make it American Idol-like by having three crappy judges and a method for you to “text and vote”. None of the bands were anything to write home about and they all did covers, so it was hard to really gauge what they were really like. BUT! After that was all over, the guest band came out and it just so happened to be Future Islands! (I apologize for the blurry, grainy shots. I only had the iphone and I’m no good at grabbing great iphone shots.)

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We were stoked. We stayed to watch the show, which was fantastic, and sadly too short, then we went back over to Cheer Up Charlie for a couple songs from another band, then headed home.

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All in all we only spent money on some food and a couple of beers and the non-venue places.

And this kind of stuff isn’t a fluke. On Sunday, we went to The Grackle for more free Brooklyn beer (not just one, but three), free ice cream, turtle races, Chinchilla and hedgehog petting (no kidding) and old school country music. Again – for free.

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We wandered off from there and landed at another free show. We saw a band called Basketball Shorts (I’d love to hear the story on that name), which reminded me a bit of Weezer, or at least the main singer did, and Sol Cat, a semi-psyched out poppy band. They actually were quite good despite them all looking completely stoned out of their minds. I swear if you’d asked them what city they were in, they’d have no clue. But nevertheless, they were actually very entertaining.

And the people watching alone, is worth the free tickets in. Check this guy out. And I’m sure he’s not the weirdest one but the rose glasses, fanny pack, red sweats and scrunchy socks puts him up there. Top 100 at least.

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So remember, if you’re just a blue collar, music loving, penny pinching tightwad, much like myself, you can still have a lot of fun out at SXSW, for very little money.

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