Don’t leave now

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Why on Earth would you want to leave Austin during spring break? As I hope you know, next week, Austin plays hosts to one of the greatest annual events nationwide, the South By Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Festival, or SXSW. The myth on the street is that you have to buy a wristband or a badge to enjoy the festival at all. While the purchasing of the unnecessarily expensive wristbands and badges will grant you access to exclusive shows and most of the film and interactive events hosted during SXSW, the sheer volume of free music shows and parties hosted during SXSW is too good to pass up for anything else — I don’t care what they let you do in Colorado while you ski.

SXSW music is the gift that keeps on giving. To start, there are the three nights at Auditorium Shores that are chock-full of free music. It costs literally nothing to attend — you just show up with a pair of ears and enjoy the night’s lineup. What’s even better is that the headlining act for 2013 is none other than The Flaming Lips, the rock act notorious for putting on a live show that no one in the crowd could forget.  The Flaming Lips take the stage on the night of Friday, March 15th. They cap off an awesome lineup of totally free music, put together so the people of Austin — college kids included — could enjoy the city the way it was supposed to be enjoyed.

But that’s not where the free events end. Even now, a week before the glorious event is set to begin, local and nationwide companies are releasing the lineups for their showcases, many of which are free. It just takes a little more effort to find out about them. Search the web for SXSW showcases. Set up Google Alerts to notify you whenever a post appears that says “SXSW free” or something similar. Follow Twitter accounts that specifically deal with SXSW showcase announcements. I didn’t purchase a wristband or a badge, but I still have free showcases lined up for every day from Tuesday, March 12th all the way to the last Sunday of spring break.

Check the showcase posters for any badge/wristband requirements and make sure that, if you are underage, the posters don’t bear the menacing “21+” stipulation.

These showcases usually last the better part of the day and consist of five or more bands playing set after set, all for our enjoyment. Youth Lagoon, Toro y Moi, Surfer Blood and Unknown Mortal Orchestra are just a few of the bands that are gracing the streets of Austin, free of charge.

We break our academic backs left and right in this great city, our lives sometimes moving so quickly that we don’t get the opportunity to stop and enjoy Austin. SXSW during spring break provides such an opportunity.

Hays is a journalism freshman from Dripping Springs.