in which our man in Austin runs down the best ways to enjoy this week’s South by Southwest festival without spending a dime

For your reference: I live about five miles north of 6th and Red River. That’s South by Southwest ground zero. Up here, it’s all peaceful—birds, parking, lack of vomit in the street. So, though my daily news publication insists that the long economic reach of the behemoth SXSW Festival “spread[s] far across the city,” from where I live, you’d almost kind of never know it.  Except that, though I haven’t yet experienced a South by from these particular digs, I’m pretty sure that some portion of the thing will creep its way into this neighborhood.

Officially, like for the badge-having types who get all-access to the whole festival for somewhere north of $1,000, this might happen at the Nomad—a cozy bar just down the street. Unofficially, it could happen at someone’s house—-in their backyard, at like noon. Bonus? Those shows often come with a keg. And you rarely have to dish out any thing for the privilege.

This is what stands in for the underground at SXSW. And though even this portion of the festival has been co-opted—see: the Levi’s Fader Fort, for example—you can still get in to see most of it with little more than an RSVP.

Here’s a quick run-down of just some of what you Austin-bound lucktards can look forward to not paying for. This is, by no means, a complete list. For that, head on over to Show List Austin, which’ll give you the full scope of this totally ridiculous week.

* Last time around, those Fader Fort duders brought out Kanye West for a surprise set. This year’s confirmed performers include YACHT, N.E.R.D., David Banner, Lykke Li, and, uh, 2 Live Crew. Food’ll be provided (we’re unsure about the freeness of this) by the capital area’s most overrated barbecue joint and one of our many purveyors of fine cupcakes. Trouble is that, if this is the first time you’re hearing about it, you’re already too late for an RSVP. Sounds about right for something sponsored by The Fader. This’ll happen between Wednesday and Saturday.

* NYC’s Other Music is sponsoring a two-day affair called the Lawn Party. Performers include the xx, Austin-locals Yellow Fever, Real Estate, Thurston Moore, D âm Funk, Dengue Fever, and Talk Normal. You can still RSVP for this sucker on Facebook, but as far as we can tell, there’s no real need. This’ll happen on Thursday and Friday.

* I’m not quite sure how a free show can also be a benefit show, but Eastbound and Found is apparently just that. Performers here include White Denim, Danielson, Kid Sister, and THE FUCKING GZA. Just in case you missed it, this’d be your chance to see THE FUCKING GZA for FUCKING FREE. RSVP here. This’ll happen on Thursday.

* Want to know just how un-weird SXSW daytime action has gotten? Look no further than Cheap Trick’s free festival performance at Waterloo Records. This’ll happen on Wednesday.

* OK, so apparently, the GZA is playing two free day shows. This one’s the Brooklyn Vegan party at Emos, where he’ll be joined by the likes of the NYT-hyped New Jersians Titus Andronicus and Japandroids. This’ll happen on Wednesday.

* The Big Parking Lot show will feature performances from Videohippos, Zs, and Acid Mothers Temple. (Full disclosure: I am also performing in a band that will grace this stage.) This’ll happen on Thursday.

* I’ve been trying to steer clear of any pay shows masquerading as day shows, but we figure this one should make the cut: Thanks to the folks at Insound, $3 gets you unlimited beer and performances from the Liars and Vivian Girls (among others). It’s at Club Deville and it’ll happen on Thursday.

* Lest you metal people think you were left out: Full Metal Texas 2010’ll have Darkest Hour, Fair to Midland, a whole lot of other heaviness, and a special guest. Oooooooooo! This will happen on Thursday.

* The IheartComix, Jelly, and Mad Decent Carniville will have Major Lazer, the Walkmen, Diplo, Kid Sister, YACHT, the GZA (again), Japanther, Dâm Funk, and about a billion other awesome bands. This’ll happen on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

This, really, honestly, is just a sampling. Indeed, I’ve spent so much time staring at Show List Austin that it’s starting to look like a wordsearch. So I’m gonna stop.