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Your Daily Itinerary for Free Music at South By Southwest

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We rounded up the best women-centric, free music events. 

By Brianna Caleri

Austin’s busiest week is upon us as South By Southwest arrives. Whether you’re a longtime local or a fresh-faced tourist, you’ll need some help navigating the endless events available. It can be expensive, so Austin Woman compiled a list of the best free, women-centric music events. Make sure to check whether RSVPs are required beforehand, and apply for a free guest pass to SXSW official events. Some of these events even offer free food and drinks, so while you’re enjoying freeloading, don’t forget to tip the musicians!

Friday, March 8:

We’re starting simple: The only place you need to be this Friday is the International Women’s Day Celebration hosted by SXSW. There will be panels and music all day, with seven artists and headliner Flint Eastwood. Her aggressive but lush club beats will cap off the night and get you in the mood for the rest of the festival. If you’re not tired at the end of that after-party, head to The Verge + Aloft Hotels present: The Future of Music, which looks toward the future of music technology and will feature three women artists.

Saturday, March 9:

Start the day (late; don’t worry) with Femme! Experience, a dance and movement workshop. Led by somatic healer and fitness expert Bernadette Pleasant, the workshop focuses on sensual and joyful movement while encouraging guests to celebrate their bodies. Take a break for lunch and then head to Netflix’s “1934-inspired speakeasy” promoting its new show The Highwaymen. The pop-up will run for three nights, but Saturday’s featured artist, Jessica Pratt, offers a perfectly moody and surreal way to end your day.

Sunday, March 10:

Fittingly, Sunday will be a pretty chill day. Start out after brunch by living out your roller-derby fantasies in a parking lot temporarily converted by Vice. Enjoy live DJs and catch Vice shooting live content. Later, Michelob will host Pure Golden Hour, a sunset meditation, followed by performances, including one from one of the fiercest femme performers of the week, Bishop Briggs. Songwriter Miguel is another incentive to get there.

Monday, March 11:

No one needs to be location hopping on a Monday; there are two long shows starting in the afternoon and lasting all night that’ll cover all your bases. Strange Brew VIII is a collection of 24 acts from the U.S. and England, including “radical indigenous queer feminist” Black Belt Eagle Scout and punk-rock girl group Abjects. If that’s not enough for you, The Onion and The A.V. Club are hosting a knockout lineup, including what could be one of the best sets of the entire festival, featuring recent New Zealand breakouts The Beths. 

Tuesday, March 12:

The music festival starts Tuesday, so you’ll see great acts everywhere all day. Because you’ll have so much to stumble upon today, we’re going curated. NPR’s Tiny Desk hasn’t released its lineup, but who doesn’t want to be surprised by Tiny Desk? Whoever it is will be worth seeing. If you really hate surprises, check out Disco’s official after-party to the badge-only SXSW Music Opening Party. Of Disco’s five-band lineup, four have women members, which equates to one of the highest ratios of women musicians of the day.

Wednesday, March 13:

Today, we’re sending you on an international journey to meet some cool ladies from places far, far away. Start off with the British Music Embassy’s showcase, with three of five hard-rocking bands featuring female vocalists, including the aptly named The Joy Formidable, which should not be missed. Then do something you’ve probably never done before at the Finnish Home Party, the five-act show featuring three woman solo artists: Impress your friends with your knowledge of Finnish indie music.

Thursday, March 14:

Thursday is basically the start of the weekend, so start it right at Austin City Limits’ Bloody Mary Morning, with free drinks and tacos while they last. We trust ACL to give us good lineups, but if you need more proof, folk powerhouse Patty Griffin will be there. After she eases you into the day, head to famous Texas music blog Gorilla vs. Bear’s lineup with record label Luminelle, which includes a dozen sets, 11 of which have frontwomen. You read that right.

Friday, March 15: 

Take a little time to chill and enjoy your Friday with Fender. The event will feature discussions, demos and showcases, including the very cool Japanese Breakfast and the dreamy Vacationer. Both will perform later, but you’ll have to pay for it! Next, keep going with the flow and let DontWorryBaby trendily sweep you away. Info about this event is incredibly vague, but it’s the one “music thing” offered in this seven-day “experiment in short-term consistency.” They have a very cool reputation and very feminine vibes, so just take their advice and don’t worry, baby.

Saturday, March 16:

This is the last big day of the festival, so go out with a bang. Rachael Ray will host a free event at Stubb’s with free food and drink, but get there early because it’ll be packed! At the top of the lineup is Bleachers, so you know it’s going to be fun. Then close things out at the Carefree Black Girl Showcase, which hasn’t disclosed yet whether there’s a fee at the door. If there is, this is one of the top events worth supporting. 

Sunday, March 17:

South By Southwest essentially ended yesterday, but Space 24 Twenty is bringing Austin back gently with the Sunday Wind Down. There will be an hour of slow-flow yoga accompanied by a live DJ set. Enjoy snacks, massages, a braid bar and tarot readings, and then relax into an hour-long sound bath.

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