Link to our Facebook
Link to our Instagram
Link to our TikTok

How To Survive SXSW Sydney (From Those Who Have Been To Austin)

13 October 2023 | 11:32 am | Jessie Lynch

"If you’re performing, connect with as many artists as possible. It’s sick to meet someone new and then immediately get to watch their live show."

Zac Abroms, Sosefina Fuamoli, Ashli + Cody Jon

Zac Abroms, Sosefina Fuamoli, Ashli + Cody Jon (Supplied)

It’s almost time for SXSW to take over Sydney from this Sunday, 15th to Sunday, 22nd October in what’s set to be a jam-packed week of Music, Games, Screen, Technology and Ideas.

The SXSW Sydney event precinct will stretch over a number of inner city suburbs, including Ultimo, Chippendale, Haymarket, and the CBD. Each area has a distinctive flavour – from the gorgeous harbour views of Darling Harbour to the bustling hole-in-the-wall restaurants and bars hidden down the laneways of Chinatown.

With the program featuring over 1000 future-forward experiences, 700+ thought-provoking speakers, 300+ cutting-edge performances, 170+ thrilling game demos, and 200+ captivating screen events, including five exclusive gala premieres, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out your plan of attack.

Luckily for you, we’ve rounded up advice from artists, journalists, and more who have attended the OG SXSW Austin to ask their advice on how to tackle SXSW Sydney as a first-timer.

Sosefina Fuamoli – Journalist and Broadcaster

Work out what you actually want to get out of the experience. SXSW, whether it is in Austin or Sydney, can be overwhelming for a first-timer, and if you don’t have even the roughest of game plans in place, it can burn you out really quickly. 

My first experience with SXSW was in Austin back in 2014 and while it was incredible to immerse myself in the culture of the hustle, the music, and the grind; I maybe had 2 hours of sleep a night, worked way too many hours and treated my body and mind horribly!

Returning in subsequent years, knowing exactly what I wanted from the experience outside of my work responsibilities, led me to view and approach SXSW far more – ultimately, it was a much more productive and enjoyable time.  

Make sure you prioritise a window of time in your day for silence and hydration; these moments where you can isolate yourself, reset and freshen up is one of the best hacks you can have.

Show up for yourself before showing up to others; if you’re not at your best, how can you express and flex to the hundreds of others out here trying to do the same?

Ashli – Artist

One of my favourite things about SXSW Austin was exploring the city during the day.

The beautiful thing about having such a large event in the city is getting to meet so many new people from all around the world. It can be quite overwhelming but just talking to the locals in Austin and getting their tips and food recommendations really brought the city to life for me.

I think that would be my tip - if you’re visiting Sydney for the first time, don’t be afraid to explore it and for us locals, I think this is a great opportunity to see our city with fresh eyes.

Ashli’s single New Feelings” is out now. 

Performing at SXSW Sydney:

  • Oct 19 - 8pm, Knox Street Bar 

  • Oct 20 – 11:20pm, Hollywood Hotel

Zac Abroms - Artist Manager/Label Manager - Viceroyalty/MNRK Music Group 

I survived SXSW Austin in 2018 with my management client Alice Ivy. It was a first for both of us and all we really knew going in was that she was one of 400 hopefuls pit-stopping in central Texas to strut their stuff for the global music industry.

I made the ultimate sacrifice and slept on the couch in our one-bed apartment, which is NOT something I’d recommend doing if you can avoid it! 

Showcases are a mixed bag. One day you might be playing a packed outdoor stage with a queue around the block to get in and the next you’re performing in front of a banner of the 12 apostles for a bunch of diplomats or folks eating nachos in the shadow of a statue of Willie Nelson (all of which was true in our case).

It’s a bit of a numbers game, so if an extra opportunity to perform comes your way, roll the dice and say yes! 

Eat whenever you can! The only proper meal I can remember having in Austin was Texas BBQ, which was well worth the 90-minute wait to be seated, but for the most part, I was shoving something in my mouth on the go, including shrimp out the tray of a pick-up truck on Sixth St.

Fortunately, Sydney has options aplenty and Spice Alley in Chippendale is always a safe bet when you’re time-poor and hungry!  

Lastly, when in doubt pat dogs! On our last day in Austin, we attended the official SXSW puppy party and let me tell you, those blessed beasts were doing God’s work in a sea of slow-moving, sunglass-wearing musicians and industry. 

Cody Jon – Artist

I went to SXSW in Austin, Texas at the start of this year. SXSW is a great way to meet other artists with similar sounds or inspirations.

If you’ve got no one to go with I say definitely check it out anyway. I went solo and met some cool people with the same music taste. If you’re performing, connect with as many artists as possible. It’s sick to meet someone new and then immediately get to watch their live show.

I recommend wandering around till something catches your interest, then go in and check it out. That worked for me in Texas, I managed to catch a few great artists - Flo Milli, 070 shake and Genesis Owusu. 

The day I arrived I headed straight to a rehearsal with my drummer. I get there and he tells me he’s locked the keys in the studio. He’s got a tool kit out and is trying to break the handle and then hinges off the door. My set was in a few hours and we had never met, let alone played my songs. He broke it down and we got a quick rehearsal in. 

It was an interesting start… you never know what to expect at SX so go in with an open mind, meet new people, and enjoy it. Playing at SX in Texas was a unique opportunity because I got to meet some of my fans over there. Acts travelling to Sydney will be able to connect with their Sydney audience. I’m looking forward to watching my Aussie friends play SX.

Cody Jo’s single “SHOOT!” is out now. 

Performing at SXSW Sydney:

  • Oct 18 - 9:25pm, Mulan Music Restaurant and Bar

  • Laneway Festival SXSW Sydney Party

  • Oct 20 - 6:40pm, Soda Factory

Plug into the latest music with our FREE weekly newsletter