If you're heading to Austin for the annual SXSW music frenzy and you haven't purchased a music badge ($795) or wristband ($179), save your money on the expense. Every SXSW year brings an overwhelming barrage of "unofficial" parties with hundreds (if not thousands) of impressive acts playing in nearly every establishment, room, and open-air environment between South Congress and the UT perimeter.
The few major acts in exclusive showcases are unlikely to play free gigs; however, standing in interminable lines to gain entry to those packed showcases (after dropping hundreds on badges or wristbands) may prove to be even more trouble than they are worth. Instead, why don't you try taking advantage of the fantastic day parties with no cover, free booze, and too much free gear to carry around? Soak up a week's worth of nonstop music for free, and save your money for all the other great things around town.