With at last count, 560 various parties, shows, events and showcases going on during SXSW’s Music conference, people packed into Austin this week won’t lack for entertainment choices. That makes it all the more impressive when a given event is actually able to cultivate an air of exclusivity. But once you’ve generated that excitement, there’s a problem for the people who are all psyched to go — namely, how do you get in when the RSVPs closed a month ago, it’s invite only, or the line is wrapped around the block? We took a look at some of SXSW’s hotter tickets to figure out which ones give you the best shot of getting in — even if it means ducking in through a side door or hopping a fence.
Event: Skrillex showcase at The Main
The deal: Emo’s downtown location closed its doors in December, but the building itself rises zombie-like from its grave for SXSW as “The Main” (for the big, outdoor stage) and “The Jr.” (for the small, inside stage). The biggest bill to hit the venue is definitely the one with Skrillex, who’s kinda almost too big to be playing SXSW at all right now.
Chances you’ll get in officially: The official capacity at The Main is right at 1,000 – appropriate for the showcase with Pennywise and the Sword the night before, but way too small for Skrillex, whose two most recent NYC shows were in spaces three times that size. That means a whole bunch of badgeholders — and teenagers with wristbands who want to get in to the all-ages venue — are going to be crowding the line. Maybe you’ll get in, but you’ll have to stand around for a long while first.
Odds of sneaking in anyway: 9:1. If you’re determined, there’s an outside courtyard wall that was hard to scale back when the place was Emo’s — the bouncers there were pretty Texas Tough — but who knows who’s running the SXSW pop-up venue? If the place hits capacity early, and you can’t stand to miss it, anything’s possible…
Event: American Express presents Jay-Z at ACL Live.
The deal: Because SXSW is all about authenticity and Jay-Z wants to give Blue Ivy everything her heart could possibly desire, Jigga is playing at the intimate ACL Live theater on Monday night — with the catch that the only people who can be entered into the lottery for tickets are people who are both A) SXSW Interactive/Platinum badgeholders and B) American Express cardholders who’ve chosen to link their credit card to Twitter. Then they’re drawing for tickets. And AmEx is livestreaming the whole thing on a billboard in downtown Austin, because that is how SXSW rolls these days.
Odds you’ll get in officially: If you have an Interactive badge and an American Express card, they can’t be that bad, can they? How many of y’all are there, really? If not, the early word, at least, is 0%.
Odds of sneaking in anyway: 80:1. Do you parachute? ACL Live is a veritable fortress — the venue is also a television studio where KLRU tapes the Austin City Limits TV broadcasts for PBS — and the only way up to the venue is up a steep staircase that usually has more than a handful of private event security people checking bags, IDs, tickets, and credentials. They don’t give a shit who you work for — they’d just as soon be working the rodeo or a Longhorns game as SXSW — and we’ve never seen anybody sneak through.
Event: Pitchfork showcase at First Presbyterian Church
Odds you’ll get in officially: Slim! The venue’s small, and everybody with an SXXpress is going to be using it to cut to the front of the line in time to catch Apple open the show. Given how quickly her NYC and Chicago shows sold out, we’d recommend getting in line way, way in advance if you want a chance of catching this one – but unless you have a badge, you’re probably going to be out of luck in any case.
Odds of sneaking in anyway: 9:2. Okay, don’t tell anybody we said this, but most years, the downtown church venues — which sound great and have lineups crafted to take full advantage of these cathedrals’ outstanding acoustics — are staffed by unpaid SXSW volunteers. Talk fast, act like you know where you’re going, maybe (if you want to get blasphemous) don a priest’s collar, and who knows if the volunteers will be paying enough attention, or feeling enough motivation, to stop you.
Event: Spin magazine party
The deal: Spin’s day party at Stubb’s is always one of the best at SXSW. It’s usually strictly an invite-only affair, but this year they opened up a small number of RSVPs, too, which is awesome, because the lineup features Santigold, Best Coast, Big K.R.I.T., Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire, and more. Plus beer and BBQ, as is the Austin custom.
Odds you’ll get in officially: RSVPs are closed, and they didn’t guarantee admission in the first place. Spin is still giving a few away via Twitter if you jump through hoops like answering trivia questions, but unless you’re homies with Chris Weingarten or somebody to nab an invite, it’s not looking great.
Odds of sneaking in anyway: 12:1. Stubb’s is usually staffed by the same event security company that handles ACL Live, so your chances of sweet-talking your way through the gates are pretty damn low. That said, where ACL Live is a fort, Stubb’s is an outdoor amphitheater with a relatively low fence. At night shows, we’ve heard from unscrupulous neighbors whom we don’t talk to anymore that fans can sometimes hop over and catch the show if they’re determined. The fact that this is a day party makes it a little bit tougher, but if you’re intrepid, you can give it a shot anyway.
Event: Bruce Springsteen show at SUPER-SECRET MYSTERY VENUE
The deal: Bruuuuuuuuce — with the E Street Band in tow — is playing an “intimate” SXSW show at a venue that they haven’t named in order to build anticipation. That venue is almost certainly ACL Live, as it has a blank calendar for the night, except for early showcases by the Low Anthem and Austin local and Springsteen pal Alejandro Escovedo. Still, they could surprise us and put him in some tiny bar somewhere. Wherever it is, the only way to get tickets is to check in at the convention center with your badge and enter a lottery.
Odds you’ll get in officially: Better than winning the actual lottery, but worse than any other official SXSW showcase.
Odds of sneaking in anyway: 100:1. If it’s at ACL Live, then the same rules as the Jay-Z showcase up there apply. If it’s at some weird, random bar somewhere in Austin? They’ll bring in the Secret Service or something to keep both the SXSW crowd and Austin’s abundance of greying Texas hippies from getting a glimpse of the Boss’s blue jeans.