SXSW 2012: 10 Must-Hit Music Parties

Kyleen James
Alabama Shakes will perform at the Taco Bell-sponsored Hype Hotel

From Fiona Apple to Jack White to Perez Hilton, there are plenty of options for the thousands of eager ears descending on Austin for South By Southwest this week.

While there is certainly plenty of non-stop entertainment to tickle the senses, treat South By Southwest's music conference as a marathon, not a race, and you may be able to actually enjoy some truly awesome events rather than running to catch the next so-so one. Here THR's 10 picks for must-attend parties and showcases. 

Purevolume House: 3/11-17
E 2nd St. and Trinity St., 2 p.m. - 6 p.m. and 12 a.m. - 4 a.m. most days

Running Sunday through Saturday, BUZZMEDIA's PureVolume House has probably the most bands out of any party or showcase during the conference and with that one of the best lineups. This year the unofficial showcase that's seated across the street from the Austin Convention Center will host daytime and nighttime parties with an open bar, running until 4 a.m. each night. Stereogum, Absolute Punk and iHeartRadio are on as curators, among others, featuring a slew of up-and-coming acts. RSVP here.

The Hype Hotel: 3/13-17
504 Trinity, times vary

The fact that one of the internet's most ahead-of-the-curve blog aggregators got up and comers like Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr and Alabama Shakes is no surprise, but their team-up for the event with Taco Bell may throw some hipsters off -- until the realization that the fast food chain is launching their new tacos via the event, all of which are wrapped in shells made of Doritos, a fattening mash-up clearly on-par with any the late-night Djs will be rocking.

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Life Or Death/R.A.P. Music/Mishka: 3/14
Lustre Pearl, 7 p.m. - 2 a.m.

The quadruple team-up of Life or Death PR, streetwear clothing line Mishka, website HipHop DX, and the new Killer Mike/El-P project called R.A.P. Music has assembled one of SXSW's best official rap and punk lineups with free Ben & Jerry's ice cream and limited edition T-shirts adding to the fun. Prodigy, Trash Talk, Wavves and Action Bronson will all be playing.

The Fader Fort: 3/14 - 3/17
101 E 5th St., times vary

For the past few years the mini-festival presented by the music magazine The Fader (and a revolving slew of co-sponsors, like this year's backer, Converse) has been one-of the hot-ticket unnofficial shows at SXSW, and no wonder: they've always gotten top performers, both before they've broken (Amy Winehouse), after they've hit the charts (N.E.R.D.) and when they want to get intimate (Kanye West, whose surprise performance at the Fort nearly shut the whole thing down). This year, the actually-official lineup's future-superstar heavy, with hip hop hype machine Black Hippy and Zola Jesus topping two of the four nights – but clearly the most anticipation is for Saturday, with two “TBA” and “Special Guest” slots that, given their past track record, could literally belong to just about anyone. The event will be streaming at Fuse.TV

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Pitchfork: 3/15
Central Presbyterian Church, 7 p.m. - 2 p.m.

It shouldn't come as a surprise the web's most influential music site wrangled together what is probably SXSW's most impressive lineup for its showcase Thursday night. But, still, the thought of Fiona Apple and The-Dream and next-big-things Nicolas Jaar, Grimes, Purity Ring and Charli XCX all performing inside a beautiful church until late at night is something exciting, indeed. Anyone hoping to see this official showcase, hopefully you don't mind waiting in line. Get there early and good luck.

SPIN@STUBB's: 3/16
Stubb's BBQ, 12 p.m. - 6 p.m.

Spin magazine's annual SPIN@Stubb's party at Stubb's BBQ is reliably one of the week's most anticipated and well attended parties, so why should it's tenth year be any different? The lineup is a mix of hip-hop and indie, including Santigold, Best Coast, Big K.R.I.T., G-Side, The Big Pink and Chairlift. The catch this year is you have to win tickets by following @spinsxsw on Twitter for details, but surely the crafty and connected will manage their way in regardless.

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Rachael Ray's Feedback Festival: 3/17
Stubbs BBQ, 12 p.m. - 6 p.m.

When the Austin-based TV chef started putting on events at SXSW, she was initially dismissed as a prime example of the festival's verge-of-sellout status by longtime attendees. No more: now, it's so clear that Ray's parties aren't just an excuse to see great bands (this year: Jimmy Cliff, Blitzen Trapper, and Train (ok, so maybe they're not all great)), but to eat great food that perges from the typical SXSW menu of oversauced BBQ and cold tacos: this year's menu includes sloppy chicken suiza sliders and gluten-free nachos topped w/ green chile queso and spicy refried beans.

Third Man Records: 3/16
The Stage on 6th, 7:30 p.m. - 2 a.m.

One of the first-ever full-length solo sets from White Stripes frontman Jack White's just one of the reasons this official showcase is clearly going to be packed to the gills; Radiohead-ish, percussion-led indie-rock from White Rabbits and the Danger Mouse-assisted pop of Electric Guest are two more. Still need more? It'll be bolstered by a rolling record store – selling still to-be-announced merch only available at SXSW.

KUT Morning Sessions, 3/17
The Four Seasons, 8 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Unless you're signing a contract over coffee – and lets be honest, that's probably not happening either – you're usually doing something wrong if you're in Austin and awake before noon. That's why this breakfast-provided, cancer-charity-benefitting showcase is something special: your bloodys and eggs will include acoustic sets from four notable artists, including Nada Surf and Academy Award-Winner/Swell Season frontman Glen Hansard, who's wailing is so honest, there's no way you're falling back asleep.

Perez Hilton's One Night in Austin: 3/17
Austin Music Hall, 6 p.m. - 2 a.m.

People may have scoffed at Perez Hilton when he first started hosting SXSW parties in 2008 but regularly each year the celebrity blogger has proven to have a golden ear and a knack for throwing wildly successful close-out bashes. This year, those seeking admittance to his "One Night in Austin" party purchase a $25 ticket that acts as a contribution to The VH1 Save The Music Foundation, a non-profit that supports children and the musical arts. The lineup so far includes Timbaland, the Ting Tings, Cher Lloyd, Dev, and Ed Sheeran, with more acts to be announced.

Twitter: @THRMusic