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1,580—that's right, 1,580—bands at SXSW

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

The South by Southwest Music and Media Conference & Festivals (SXSW) is a decades-old tradition in Austin. It was founded in 1987 as a means to bring members of the music and media industries together for a few days of informal networking over beer, barbecue and, most importantly, live bands. Since then, the South by Southwest company, which is based in Austin and operates year-round, has expanded to host conferences for the film and interactive industries, which take place before the music and media conference and festival, making for a full week of festivities.

This year's music festival features 1,580 bands from all over the world, including Chicago local indie rockers Office, hip-hop up-and-comers The Cool Kids and seminal rockers Naked Raygun. Of course, you could see them in Chicago . . . sans barbecue and mid-March sunshine, but . . .

The music and media conference and festival takes place March 12-16 and is headquartered at the Austin Convention Center downtown. Most industry officials purchase badges months in advance, but walk-ups are welcome. The walk-up rate for the music portion of the convention (badges are also available for the film and interactive conferences) is $650 and theoretically gets you in to all SXSW music and media-related events. However, past experience has shown that even if you have a badge, you're not necessarily guaranteed admission to especially popular events. Capacity means capacity—and even the biggest of venues here reach it—so if there's an act you're dying to see, plan ahead and show up early.

For more information, visit or call 512-467-7979.

—Lauren Viera

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