For many attendees, the "real" SXSW is at day parties. Day parties can come in may guises.
Some are simple, small local or grassroots affairs and others are sponsored by giant corporations tapping into the valuable consumer demographic ensconced at SXSW. They are sometimes put on by labels who couldn't get showcases or as satellite events to their proper evening showcases.
They happen in bars, backyards and every possible space public or private where you can stick an artist and some people who willing to hear them.
The real beauty is that these parties are almost always free!
And the day parties are not only a great source for seeing the bands you traveled all the way to Austin for but also a way to eat and drink for free and maybe even score some of the millions of pieces of free swag that flood into the Texas capital that week. As if the music is not enough to lure people, there is in most instances the lure of free to discounted food and alcohol. Some SXSW attendees have made a sport of seeing how many meals and drinks they can get for free doing the party circuit.
Day parties are usually open to all, though there are plenty of exceptions. Some require pre-registering while others reserve space for badge-holders. Some of them are exclusive invite-only affairs with big guests, lots of free food and booze and top notch swag... but a reasonably savvy bullshit artist or persistent person can usually harangue a way into even the most feted of these.
In 2007, some of the best coolest shows I saw were in the day: seeing Pete Townshend joining The Fratellis for a version of "The Seeker," an intimate three-song acoustic set from Amy Winehouse at a BBC event, pounding booze-filled snocones while watching Buzzcocks at Snocap's shindig, Midlake at the Denton party, the incongruent sight of Boris on a sunny Saturday afternoon the park and the qualified hangover cure of Two Cow Garage ripping into the Nuge's "Stranglehold" on the back patio of Jovita's. -Donny Kutzbach