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There's no such thing as a free lunch in Hollywood, but there's definitely free beer in Austin.
Published March 07, 2012 More Info »

Beer

Screen_shot_2012-03-07_at_1.09.15_PM.pngBeer! The unofficial energy drink of SXSW. Without it, most of us probably wouldn’t make it past the first 36 hours. It seems like everywhere you go, someone is ready to hand you a cold, delicious beer for free. It would be nice if the rest of the world was like this all the time, but then SXSW wouldn’t feel special and society would crumble in a foamy mess. It’s probably for the best that endless free beer comes but once a year.

Battery for your Cell Phone

Screen_shot_2012-03-07_at_1.12.31_PM.pngSXSW is less about meeting up with friends and more about sitting in a bar by yourself because your phone died three hours ago. Fortunately, you can find lifesaving charging stations all around town. Some of them even let you lock your phone up and retrieve it later. Wait, you’re telling me I can put my cell phone in a tiny locker somewhere and hold on to a small key while I run around guzzling free beer all day? What could go wrong? It’s basically the perfect plan.

Water

Screen_shot_2012-03-07_at_1.09.38_PM.pngWith such a wide array of things you can drink, ranging from beer to light beer, it’s easy to lose track of the most important beverage of all: water. Nobody wants you to drop dead inside of their business (a potential side effect of the amount of alcohol people consume during this weird marathon of self indulgence) so you can find a free glass of water just about everywhere. This year, it’s supposed to rain at SXSW so just look to the sky and open your mouth. You’ll have enough liquid in your stomach to prevent alcohol poisoning in no time.

BBQ

Screen_shot_2012-03-07_at_12.59.34_PM.pngNormally, the free food of choice at parties seems to be tiny cheeseburgers. You can call them sliders if you want; I’m not here to tell you how to live your life. I just know a tiny cheeseburger when I see one. You won’t find any free tiny burgers at SXSW parties. No, you’ll get hit with a mountain of savory BBQ’d meat that will make you sweat and subsequently put that ass to sleep. It’s a beautiful thing.

Music

Screen_shot_2012-03-07_at_10.00.05_PM.pngCan’t afford a $6,000 platinum badge? No problem! Thanks to the dizzying amount of parties, you can see all your favorite acts for free! I don’t know how anyone gets paid for any of this. I can only assume the logos of potato chips, diet soda and deodorant that adorn the stages foot the bill. The joke’s on you, bill payers! We were all going to helplessly consume your chips, diet soda and deodorant anyway. But thanks for letting us see world-class talent under the false pretense that we have any control over our spending.

Cool Swag

Screen_shot_2012-03-07_at_1.08.49_PM.pngT-Shirts that you want to wear! Beer koozies that keep your free beer cold! Sunglasses that will make you mildly upset when you lose or break them! There are so many cool things people give you and, significantly different from Comic-Con, they’re actually items you’ll want to keep for more than three minutes. Unlike the other things on this list, this is the kind of freebie that you won’t just deplete, digest or experience and then instantly move on with your life. These are priceless heirlooms you'll hold on to forever until you lose them in the Austin airport on Sunday afternoon while ordering a quesadilla for breakfast. You know what they say about hats that have a picture of pizza on them: easy come, easy go.

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