How To Crash SXSW As Told By Melbourne’s Clowns

Ever wanted to crash one of the world’s most hyped music gatherings SXSW, but don’t have the muso cred to score an invite? Well James from Melbourne hardcore punk outfit Clowns has the proven low-down on how to crash.

People who follow music would definitely have heard the muttering and gas bagging that goes on whenever the words South by South West are mentioned. The apparent be all and end all event for anyone with a desire to become “the next big thing” to assist their trek for global popularity and stardom. Here’s how we gate crashed our way into SXSW 2015, and had an awesome time doing so.

When plotting our first US tour to coincide with the release of our new album Bad Blood we noticed that the dates of SXSW nicely fitted around when we were looking to be in the USA. So we thought “Sweet, let’s go play SXSW, that’ll be something to do”. It didn’t make sense to avoid playing in a town where the population is doubled for by gig goers eager to pack out venues and drink their bodies into near comatose for a week.

Going in with the mindset of instead of trying to meet big executives A&R types looking to sign us to their multinational global record label, or hot shot bookers to get us to support the next White Stripes national tour, we just planned on hanging out and partying with bands and and making friends with people who’d be happy to give us a floor to crash on when we were ever back in their town, or a house or basement to play if we were ever in need of adding some more shows to a tour, as well as seeing a whole heap of bands you could only dream of seeing within the same week.

We pretty much opted to not bite off more than we could chew in terms of what exactly we were looking to achieve by being in Austin for the week, oh, and to party, but that’s a given whenever and wherever we’re on tour.

When applying for the official showcase we ummed and ahhed about having to fork out 40 bucks for an application, which we could easily have blown on a slab of beer and not had to punish ourselves through pages and pages of boring questions such as “What is your act going to bring to SXSW?” and “tell us how about your upcoming music career goals” etc. but instead we filled out the form and submitted.

We’d already committed to a US tour and already had our flights booked at the time so the official application was less of a fingers crossed and hoping type deal but more of a, it’d be cool to have another show to play during the week that we didn’t have to organise ourselves.

In 2014 there was record breaking 55 Australian acts confirmed to play, in 2015 there was just about half of that. With a serious cull in Aussie acts this time around we weren’t scheduled to officially perform at SXSW in 2015, and thus we were not officially invited. “Who cares?” which has quickly become one of our best tour mottos of late.


Our plane tickets had already been bought and shows in America had already been booked. We had friends in Austin wanting us to come hang out, and we’d already heard rumours of some of the bigger bands doing free shows during the week that we were itching to see, so as far as we knew, we were going regardless.

We managed to book four killer shows during the week, totally on our own with some of our favourite bands (old and new) in some of Austin’s coolest venues. It was an extremely satisfying feeling knowing we’d bypassed a whole heap of bullshit red tape, to crash someones’ exclusive event to make something completely our own out of it.

We weren’t interested in playing showcases where we were tools of production positioning by being involved with gigs sponsored by a new iPhone application or hot sauce brand, or official shows that only people with the over the top $500 dollar week ticket could get into watch us, and with help from friends bands, local promoters, accommodating venues, general advice fro mates and an always helpful DIY attitude we were able to do just this.

It wasn’t until we’d really gotten to Austin that we realised how common practice this really was. It turns out about 90% of the bands and shows that run during the week are unofficial, free gigs by bands and artists simply just looking at playing music and avoiding the industry lanyard wearing leeches that are either too coked up on their business trip away from their major record label firm for a week to pay attention to anyone who isn’t already famous. Although, of course, SXSW won’t tell you this…

The term DIY gets thrown around a lot these days, and I feel as though with overuse of the term it can sometimes lose meaning and momentum. DIY extends further than just making your own CDs and merch, to not only just booking your own shows interstate, and abroad, but to reaching out even further once again and doing things you really want to do but are told you can’t.

If you want to go be involved in something whether it be sports, creative writing, business, music, or even playing and attending SXSW go out there and do it! Don’t take no for answer, don’t submit, don’t play by their rules, make your own rules, enjoy what you do, be proactive, don’t be lazy, don’t be scared and have some bloody fun!

Clowns are currently in the middle of their epic ‘Through These Veins’ tour, grab the deets below.

Watch: Clowns – Euthanise Me

Clowns – Running Through These Veins Australian Tour

With Summer Blood

Thursday, 18th June 2015

Hamilton Station Hotel, Newcastle

Tickets: The Drunk Promoter

Friday, 19th June 2015

Valve Bar, Sydney

Tickets: The Drunk Promoter

Saturday, 20th June 2015

Corrimal Hotel, Woolongong

Tickets: The Drunk Promoter

Friday, 26th June 2015

Music Man, Bendigo

Tickets: The Drunk Promoter

Saturday, 27th June 2015

The Barwon Club, Geelong

Tickets: The Drunk Promoter

Friday, 3rd July 2015

Price of Wales, Bunbury

Tickets: The Drunk Promoter

Saturday, 4th July 2015

Four5Nine Bar, Perth

Tickets: The Drunk Promoter

Sunday, 5th July 2015

Mojo’s, Fremantle

Tickets: The Drunk Promoter

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