SXSW Music is just about the most overwhelming festival experience the music industry serves up on a yearly basis, with thousands of bands spread across the city performing both unofficial and official SXSW events, house parties, free bar shows, busking in the streets, and everything above, beyond, and in between. To try and make it all a little more manageable, we've attempted to pare down the onslaught into a few can't-miss showcases and parties going on between March 13-18, from its small scale beginnings to its full-throttle height. See you there.
Tuesday March 13
XXL Freshman Mag Party  (8pm-2am) - Former XXL Freshman Magazine cover boy Kendrick Lamar joins some of this year's crop, as the show will feature Danny Brown, Future, Hopsin, plus a bunch of special guests.
Brooklyn Vegan / Daniel Johnston  (8:00pm - 2:00am) - Oddball Daniel Johnston's "Space Ducks" party features Built to Spill and a special show with Daniel Johnston and Motopony, and a festival flyer that only he could design.
Stones Throw Records  (9pm-2am) - Everyone's favorite soul-hop label Stones Throw Records will be kicking off the music fest with a showcase featuring The Stepkids, Homeboy Sandman, Peanut Butter Wolf and Jonti, to name a few.
Wednesday March 14
Consequence of Sound CoSigns  (noon-6pm) - Kicking things off early is the CoSigns showcase, featuring Titus Andronicus, Cloud Nothings, Screaming Females and The Men, complete with the launch of the CoS mobile app.
Force Field PR/Terrorbird  (noon-6pm) - Force Field is teaming with Terrorbird Media to bring together a show with Widowspeak, Youth Lagoon, and this year's big buzz band We Were Promised Jetpacks.
Pandora Discovery Den  (12:30pm-midnight) - This baby will be up and running on the 13th too, but Wednesday brings heavy hitters Theophilus London, Big K.R.I.T., and Gary Clark Jr. to the stage and will be running all day long.
Fader Fort  (3/14-3/17 1-8pm) - Day one of four of the Fader Fort will be showcasing the four emcees of Black Hippy (Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Ab Soul and Jay Roc) along with Santigold, Danny Brown, The-Dream, and Zola Jesus.
Live Turntable.fm  (4-6pm) - Watch five DJs duke it out for the title of BigShot DJ of SXSW and get your dance on in the process.
Vans  (7pm) - Fidlar, Pennywise, Jimmy Cliff and a "surprise guest" make this one of the more intriguing lineups of the day.
The Warner Sound  (7:30pm-2am) - The Warner Sound is going to be consistently bringing the heat from Tuesday-Thursday, but Wednesday night's showcase is bound to be a big one with Gary Clark, Jr., Dr. John, Ed Sheeran, and Dale Earnardt Jr. Jr.
 Life Or Death/R.A.P. Music/Mishka  (7:30pm - 2:00am) - Life or Death PR is gonna be bringing a star-studded showcase to Austin, with rising star Action Bronson joining Wavves, Trash Talk, Prodigy and Killer Mike.
Sony Electronics/Stache Media  (7:45-2am) - Eve 6 is headlining this bad boy, alongside Alberta Cross, Hacienda, Say Anything and The Static Jacks if you'd like to get a little more current.
NPR Music  (7:45pm - 2:00am) - NPR's official showcase features its usual jaw-dropping assortment of names, with the likes of Fiona Apple, Sharon Van Etten and Andrew Bird sure to excite the masses. Their day party on Thursday with Polica and the Magnetic Fields would be tough to miss, too.
Billboard Showcase  (8pm) - Guys, it's Lionel Richie. Come on. If you can't get down with him, we've got Wallpaper, The-Dream, Policam, and Vintage Trouble to help you get your groove on.
101X  (8pm-2am) - 101X is going to bring a good time, with recent Billboard Cover stars fun. joined by Kasabian and Neon Trees, with the whole shebang hosted by Andrew W.K.
Brooklyn Vegan  (8pm - 1:40am) - BV is gonna be all over SXSW, but their official showcase at Bar 96 will feature Titus Andronicus, Screaming Females, and The Young, with another act yet to be announced.
S.O.B.'s 30th Anniversary  (8pm) - Legendary NYC venue S.O.B.'s will be celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and AllHipHop is helping them run the show with hip-hop powerhouse Slaughterhouse, Machine Gun Kelly, Mystikal, 2 Chainz, and Elle Varner bringing the noise.
Billboard Latin  (8pm) - Billboard Latin's showcase will be augmented by performances by Colombian rapper Duran, La Vida Boheme, and Jotdog, among others.
Thursday March 15
Mess With Texas Party  (noon-6pm) - With Two Gallants, Girls, and Cults on Thursday and more parties Friday (with Cloud Nothings, Purity Ring, We Were Promised Jetpacks) and Saturday (with Deerhoof, Tan Lines, A$AP Rocky), this party will be a common destination through the weekend.
Pitchfork Day Party  (noon-6pm) - Pitchfork's day party with El-P, The War on Drugs, Danny Brown, Youth Lagoon, Cloud Nothings, and Trash Talk will be a perfect primer for...
Google  (noon - 8pm) - Google's star-studded rooftop banger will include performances by The Ting Tings, Best Coast, Gossip, and Titus Andronicus on Thursday, but don't skip out on Friday night when Jimmy Cliff, Black Star, and Grimes join The Shins at The Lot.
Pitchfork Showcase  (7pm) - Pitchfork's official showcase, featuring the rejuvenated Fiona Apple, the ever-present The-Dream, Grimes, and Nicolas Jaar.
Converse Rubber Tracks/The Filter  (7:30pm - 2:00am) Converse will be all over the place as well, but Thursday night they'll be getting down with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Alberta Cross, and Yawn.
Dead Oceans/Jagjaguwar/Secretly Canadian  (8pm) - Sharon Van Etten, the War On Drugs, Nite Jewel, and Bear In Heaven are just some of the bands set to hit the two stages at this showcase.
Carpark/Paw Tracks  (8pm-2am) - Prince Rama, Young Magic, and another Cloud Nothings performance (not that we're complaining) highlight this party.
Americana Music Association  (8pm-2am) - Jonny Corndawg, Punch Brothers, and The Gourds are big names waving the Americana flag at SXSW.
Chop Shop Showcase  (8pm-2am) - HelloGoodbye, The Gossip, and We Are Augustines will be playing under the Austin stars at Maggie Mae's rooftop bar.
Danny Rose Showcase  (8pm) - If you haven't checked out The Growlers yet, here's your big chance, as they'll be hitting the stage alongside Howlin Rain and Bad Weather California.
BMI  (8:30pm - 1:50 am) IDA MARIA, Vonnegutt, and David Garza are all performing at BMI's official showcase.
The Warner Sound  (9:30pm - 1:30am) We tried to warn you about The Warner Sound. Thursday night is bringing the hip-hop heat with T.I., B.o.B., Wale and Curren$y.
Friday March 16
Under The Radar Mag  (noon-6pm) - Under the Radar is featuring three big parties (Wed-Fri), but this one will be headlined by Of Montreal's performance of The Sunlandic Twins, with openers Youth Lagoon, Deerhoof, Cymbals Eat Guitars, and Django Django.
Spin Showcase  (noon-6) - Spin's got 2 stages and they'll both be bumping, with Big K.R.I.T. and Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire inside and Santigold and Best Coast representing outside.
Waterloo Records Day Party  (noon-6pm) - Waterloo Records are also putting up four day of music (Wed-Sat), but their star-studded Friday is featuring Talib Kweli, Jimmy Cliff, Of Montreal, Gary Clark, Jr., and The Cult.
IHeartComix/Life or Death PR  (noon-7pm) - IHeartComix's hip-hop showcase will put Das Racist, Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire, Young L, and Stalley on the same stage.
SXSanJose  (noon-8pm) - Alejandro Escovedo and Dry The River are among the artists, but if you miss Alabama Shakes you're making one of the biggest mistakes of the festival. One of four days for this showcase (Thurs-Sun).
Workaholics House Party  (1pm-2am) - The cast of Comedy Central's Workaholics host this all-day party, plus Statik Selektah, Freddie Gibbs, Wavves and more.
Dickies/Filter Mag Party  (3pm) - The Drums, Built To Spill, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and more all day, with Yacht, Miike Snow, and Off! performing on Thursday and Saturday.
Merge Records  (7pm) - Merge Records is curating one hell of a party, with M. Ward, Hospitality, Eleanor Friedberger, and Imperial Teen, and perhaps a few surprise guests.
Third Man Records Showcase  (7:30pm) - Third Man Records is throwing down on Friday night, with headliner Jack White among a list of performers that includes John Reilly & Friends, Pujol, and The Black Belles, among others.
BMI Showcase  (7:45) - BMI's evening showcase features the War on Drugs, Magnetic Fields, Bomba Estereo, and headliner Juanes.
Duck Down v. Blacksmith  (8pm) - Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monch, Jean Grae, Smif n Wessun, and Bad Rabbits bring the hip-hop labels together. Go see Bad Rabbits. Just do it. Thank us later.
The Jacked Stage by Doritos  (8pm-1am) - Hip-hop heads will be happy with Chali 2na, GZA, Chiddy Bang, and all the doritos you can stomach.
Shady Records 2.0  (8pm) - 50 Cent (performing Get Rich or Die Tryin' in its entirety), Yelawolf, Slaughterhouse, Big KRIT, Schoolboy Q, and Action Bronson. WOW. Wanna bet Eminem shows up?
Counting Crows  (8-9:30pm) - Counting Crows will be headlining the Auditorium Shores Stage at Lady Bird Lake.
Madison House Showcase  (8pm-2am) - Grooves aplenty, with Chali 2na, Lyrics Born and Lateef, Mr. Lif, Break Science ft. Talib Kweli, and Rubblebucket bringing the funk.
AM Only Showcase  (8pm-2am) - Drop everything but the bass (they'll do it for you) as Skrillex v. 12th Planet, Araabmuzik, Codes, and Zeds Dead bring the party (2 stages).
AllHipHop/VIBE Showcase  (8pm-2am) - Mystikal, Big KRIT, Smoke DZA, the Stepkids, Juvenile, and a whole bevy of others. The hip-hop lineups this year are stacked.
Biz 3 Showcase  (8:30pm) - Skrillex, Asher Roth, El-P, and the Cool Kids are gonna be there, and that's all you really need to know.
Saturday March 17
Rolling Stone Rockroom  (11:30am-5pm) - Tom Morello and the Nightwatchmen, Gary Clark, Jr., and Heartless Bastards will take the stage during the day; this one is the second of their two showcases (Keane headlines Friday night).
IHeartComix/Mad Decent/Fool's Gold  (noon) - Eclectic and wide mix of A-Trak, Diplo, A$ap Mob, The Drums, Andrew W.K., Digitalism, Wavves, Trash Talk, Dillon Francis, and way more.
Boston To Austin  (noon-6pm) - The city of Boston's showcase features the leading voice of Beantown hip-hop Moe Pope & Quills, along with Bad Rabbits and You Can Be A Wesley.
Perez Hilton's One Night In Austin  (6pm) - The Perez lineup is stacked, with B.O.B., Timbaland, The Ting Tings, Kreayshawn, Ed Sheeran, and Kimbra, among a host of others.
Big Easy Express Screening  (6:30pm) - Screening of the documentary Big Easy Express, which followed Mumford & Sons and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes on their tour around the country, followed by a small performance by both.
Red Bull Thre3Style Celebration  (8pm) - Z-Trip, Erykah Badu, The Crystal Method, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Datsik. Wait, DJ Jazzy Jeff?? Yeah, you heard right.
Sub Pop  (8pm) - Shearwater, Blitzen Trapper, Spoek Mathambo, and a "special guest" on two stages.
Killers, Lasers, Papers (Atlantic/Elektra)  (8pm) - Huge names for a huge showcase, as Cee Lo Green, Lupe Fiasco, and Wiz Khalifa are set to perform, an even that will be live streamed to a global audience via killerslaserspapers.com.
iHipHop/BabyGrande/Madbury Club  (8pm) - A potentially legendary performance by GZA (with Grupo Fantasma), M.O.P., Curren$y's Jet Life Crew, and Statik Selektah.
The Cult  (8-9:30pm) - The Cult headline Saturday night at Auditorium Shores under the Austin stars.
Cashmere/VIBE House  (8pm-2am) - Another VIBE show featuring Kendrick Lamar/Jay Rock/AbSoul, and Nipsy Hussle .