It’s been called the biggest industry party in the world — nearly150,000 attendees, 80-plus venues, and more than 1,800 acts, includingBen Harper this year. But SXSW veterans know the annualmusic-and-more festival’s most talked-about events often belong to noindustry at all. Unofficial film screenings and seat-of-the-pants jam sessionsdraw clusters of festivalgoers to clothing stores and parking lotsacross the city. Last year, while brands like Xbox 360 and Rock Bandpushed their wares at official parties, others including Red Bull andScion were hanging around (and hosting) unofficial gatherings. All thisbig-brand marketing, at an event once dominated by boutique recordlabels and niche music mags, may leave a bad taste in some purists’mouths. But take it from us: It’s nothing a free Red Bull can’t washaway. — Clay Dillow
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