South by Southwest, Austin
Concierge.com's insider take:
Every March the big daddy of music events sweeps into town, bringing groups from as far away as Iran and Sierra Leone playing everything from jazz to metal. The emphasis, though, is on indie rockit's sort of like Sundance for the drum-banging set. Shows can be all but impossible to get into without the all-in-one badge (costing in the $600 range), which provides access to all concerts, industry conferences, and the trade show. The badge also grants you access to many of the buzzy, too-cool-for-school private parties hosted by record labels and music mags. Getting around is nearly impossible without a badgesome bars won't even let you in, concert or no concert. However, if you can't drop the cash on a pass, you can see acts at the free outdoor stage at Lady Bird Lake or check out the tamer film fest, where tickets can be obtained much more easily. Still, the frenzy of activity can be thrilling for music buffs, who get to see all of the hottest bands playing tiny venues throughout the city.