SXSW: Find the Best Gigs With These 5 Essential iPhone AppsMarch 20, 2009
AUSTIN, Texas — The South by Southwest Music festival, which starts Wednesday night, is an all-you-can-eat buffet of live rock and roll. There are hundreds of shows stacked up over five days, and it’s impossible to see them all.
Luckily, there’s a wealth of tools available for the iPhone to help you plan your social schedule so you can catch the hottest bands and hook up with your friends at the same time.
Before you hit the streets of Austin, load up your iPhone with these apps and save some bookmarks for these mobile sites on your phone’s home screen. As long as AT&T’s network stays up, you’ll be able to keep the groove going.
This free iPhone app shows you a map of nearby gigs in whatever city you’re in. If you have a 3G iPhone, you can let Bandloop sniff your location with GPS and you’ll see a map overlaid with markers for nearby clubs. Tap the marker to see the name of the venue and who’s playing, and tap again to see more info about the club and each artist on the bill, including photos, descriptions and website links. You can toggle between today and tomorrow, so listings are only about 48 hours deep. But it’s helpful to have that filter since you probably just want to decide where you’re heading later tonight. The map-based interface is a nice touch, especially if you want to zoom in on a particular area to see what’s happening within stumbling distance.
One feature Bandloop lacks is social sharing — you can’t invite your friends to join you at a show, but at least you’ll have enough info to fill a tweet or an SMS.
The popular concert listings website has scored a winner with its free iPhone app. The app is basically an extension of the website, where, if you get a free login, you can filter JamBase’s massive database of live shows to see listings of when and where your favorite bands are playing. If you have a 3G phone, tap the location finder when you touch down in Austin and you can see where all your favorite acts are playing during SXSW. Tap the toggle button at the top of the screen to display all events and you can browse every single show by every band.
Of course, if you don’t have a JamBase account, you can still use the app to browse all the shows. Just prepare yourself for a flood of listings, ’cause JamBase has them all. When you find that can’t miss gig, tap the listing to see a map and e-mail the details to your friends.
Just because it’s a British company doesn’t mean last.fm isn’t hip to SXSW. The music site has created a tool called SXSW Band Aid. Enter your last.fm user name, and you get a personalized list of recommended SXSW shows. The list is built from both your Scrobbled plays and data from the site’s recommendation engine. Once you get your list, you can go through each event and add the ones you want to attend to your own personal calendar. You can comment on the show, e-mail the details or invite your last.fm friends, too.
Once you’ve loaded up your calendar, access your schedule via the “Events” section of last.fm’s free iPhone app. If you don’t have the app (it’s free, so what are you waiting for?), you can also access your events through the mobile version of the last.fm site. Better yet, last.fm lets you export your list of shows to iCal or Google Calendar and browse your schedule that way.
This webapp was born last year at SXSW from the same minds who brought you Hype Machine. It’s proven to be a huge hit during the 2009 edition as well. Surf to sxsw2009.sched.org for an unofficial listing of everything happening at the massive festival. You can filter listings by date, and you can view parties, music events or unofficial concerts separately or all together in a color-coded list. Curious about a band? Sched.org finds free MP3 downloads for you.
If you take the time to create a login — no profile or verification required, just choose a name and password and you’re done — you gain the ability to build a personalized schedule. You also get a unique URL you can pass around to your friends. Each event’s page also lists other Sched users who are planning to attend, so you can search by user name to see where your friends (or that hipster in the T Rex shirt you’re stalking) are going to be next.
There’s no iPhone app for this concert listing service, but there is a truly awesome iPhone-optimized website. The company even added a special SXSW section to the mobile site’s main navigation. You can browse today’s shows by time, artist and venue. You can also jump ahead to see any shows happening on any specific day during the festival, or one massive list of all SXSW shows (again, not for the faint of heart). Logged in users get the added benefits of being able to build their own schedule by adding shows from the SXSW listings with a single tap. They can also view the schedules of their SonicLiving friends and coordinate together by inviting each other to shows. Oh, and every venue, band and showcase is searchable.
One fun little addition — at the very bottom of the iPhone site, you’ll see an item labeled “Need a cab?” Tapping it loads up the App Store page of Applandia’s free Taxi app, which you can use to conjur up a ride. File this under more cute than useful — an empty cab at SXSW is about as scarce as a sober frat boy in a Phish parking lot.