Riverboat Gamblers, 2007. Photo by Jay West

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Day In Pictures

A Look Back: 25 Years of the SXSW Outdoor Stage

Reviewing the history of SXSW's free concert series

For over 25 years, the SXSW Outdoor Stage has hosted free charity beneficiary concerts for the general public, enabling both Austinites and visitors to enjoy some of SXSW’s biggest names without a badge or wristband. In recent years, these shows have become SXSW’s largest venues, drawing more than 50,000 attendees over three days.

The concert series has been anchored both past and present at Auditorium Shores, on the south bank of Lady Bird Lake. Its beginnings were in 1992 with a one-night Columbia Records-sponsored show that featured future Grammy and Academy Award winner T-Bone Burnett, as well as a surprise appearance by the legendary Willie Nelson.

In 1994, the first multi-day concert series debuted on a stage located at the corner of 6th and Brazos Streets (outside of the Driskill Hotel), where it remained for four years. The Outdoor Stage then moved a few blocks north to Waterloo Park in 1998 where it remained for another four years. In 2002, the concerts returned to Auditorium Shores where they have remained aside from 2014, when due to park renovations, they were moved to a stage across Riverside Drive outside of the Palmer Events Center.

The Outdoor Stage is free and open to the public. Keep an eye on sxsw.com for announcements of the 2019 lineup.

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Iggy Pop, 1996. Photo by John Carrico

Iggy Pop, 1996
Photo by John Carrico
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Charles Bradley, 2015. Photo by Danny Matson

Charles Bradley, 2015
Photo by Danny Matson
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Ian Moore, 1998. Photo by Michelle Dapra

Ian Moore, 1998
Photo by Michelle Dapra
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Outdoor Stage, 2013. Photo by Tye Truitt

Outdoor Stage, 2013
Photo by Tye Truitt
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Cafe Tacvba, 2013. Photo by Richard McBlane

Cafe Tacvba, 2013
Photo by Richard McBlane
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Crowd during Deftones, 2016. Photo by Jessy Ann Huff

Crowd during Deftones, 2016
Photo by Jessy Ann Huff
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Lion Babe, 2014. Photo by John Carrico

Lion Babe, 2014
Photo by John Carrico
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Wolfmother, 2016. Photo by Andy Nietupski

Wolfmother, 2016
Photo by Andy Nietupski
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The Strokes, 2011. Photo by Daniel Cavazos

The Strokes, 2011
Photo by Daniel Cavazos
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Jimmie Dale Gilmore, 1997. Photo by Jana Birchum

Jimmie Dale Gilmore, 1997
Photo by Jana Birchum
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Crowd during Bowling for Soup, 2011. Photo by James Buchan

Crowd during Bowling for Soup, 2011
Photo by James Buchan
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Riders Against the Storm, 2017. Photo by Hutton Supancic/Getty Images for SXSW

Riders Against the Storm, 2017
Photo by Hutton Supancic/Getty Images for SXSW
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@GaryMillerShoots" > Patti Smith, 2000. Photo by @GaryMillerShoots

Patti Smith, 2000
Photo by @GaryMillerShoots
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Counting Crows, 2012. Photo by Debbie Finley

Counting Crows, 2012
Photo by Debbie Finley
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Childish Gambino, 2014. Photo by John Carrico

Childish Gambino, 2014
Photo by John Carrico
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JJ Grey & Mofro, 2013. Photo by John Carrico

JJ Grey & Mofro, 2013
Photo by John Carrico
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Outdoor Stage, 2015. Photo by Danny Matson

Outdoor Stage, 2015
Photo by Danny Maston
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Cheap Trick, 2010. Photo by Scott Melcer

Cheap Trick, 2010
Photo by Scott Melcer
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1992 Music Program Guide

1992 Music Program Guide
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Jim James, 2013. Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images for SXSW

Jim James, 2013
Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images for SXSW
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Outdoor Stage, 2011. Photo by Daniel Cavazos

Outdoor Stage, 2011
Photo by Daniel Cavazos
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Lucinda Williams, 2014. Photo by Heather Kennedy/Getty Images for SXSW

Lucinda Williams, 2014
Photo by Heather Kennedy/Getty Images for SXSW
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Doug Pinnick and Slash, 2014. Photo by Heather Kennedy/Getty Images for SXSW

Doug Pinnick and Slash, 2014
Photo by Heather Kennedy/Getty Images for SXSW
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Outdoor Stage, 2014. Photo by Dustin Finkelstein/Getty Images for SXSW

Outdoor Stage, 2014
Photo by Dustin Finkelstein/Getty Images for SXSW
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William Bell and Snoop Dogg, 2014. Photo by Jordan Naylor/Getty Images for SXSW

William Bell and Snoop Dogg, 2014
Photo by Jordan Naylor/Getty Images for SXSW
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Outdoor Stage fireworks, 2015. Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for SXSW

Outdoor Stage fireworks, 2015
Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for SXSW
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Spoon, 2015. Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for SXSW

Spoon, 2015
Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for SXSW
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Outdoor Stage, 1999. Photo by Shelley Rutledge

Outdoor Stage, 1999
Photo by Shelley Rutledge
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Deftones, 2016. Photo by Sean Mathis/Getty Images for SXSW

Deftones, 2016
Photo by Sean Mathis/Getty Images for SXSW
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Systema Solar, 2016. Photo by Waytao Shing/Getty Images for SXSW

Systema Solar, 2016
Photo by Waytao Shing/Getty Images for SXSW
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Intocable, 2016. Photo by Waytao Shing/Getty Images for SXSW

Intocable, 2016
Photo by Waytao Shing/Getty Images for SXSW
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Outdoor Stage, 2011. Photo by Scott Melcer/Getty Images for SXSW

Outdoor Stage, 2011
Photo by Scott Melcer/Getty Images for SXSW
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Residente, 2017. Photo by Nicola Gell/Getty Images for SXSW

Residente, 2017
Photo by Nicola Gell/Getty Images for SXSW
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Panteon Rococo, 2017. Photo by Nicola Gell/Getty Images for SXSW

Panteon Rococo, 2017
Photo by Nicola Gell/Getty Images for SXSW
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Outdoor Stage, 2017. Photo by Nicola Gell/Getty Images for SXSW

Outdoor Stage, 2017. Photo by Nicola Gell/Getty Images for SXSW
Photo by Nicola Gell/Getty Images for SXSW
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DJ Jester the Filipino Fist, 2017. Photo by Hutton Supancic/Getty Images for SXSW

DJ Jester the Filipino Fist, 2017
Photo by Hutton Supancic/Getty Images for SXSW
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Outdoor Stage, 2015. Photo by Daran Hermman

Outdoor Stage, 2015
Photo by Daran Hermman
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Flaming Lips, 2013. Photo by Tye Truitt

Flaming Lips, 2013
Photo by Tye Truitt
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Outdoor Stage, 2017. Photo by Merrick Ales

Outdoor Stage, 2017
Photo by Merrick Ales
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@GaryMillerShoots" > Boris, 2007. Photo by @GaryMillerShoots

Boris, 2007
Photo by @GaryMillerShoots
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Public Enemy, 2007. Photo by Brian Birzer

Public Enemy, 2007
Photo by Brian Birzer
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Shinyribs, 2018. Photo by Shedrick Pelt

Shinyribs, 2018
Photo by Shedrick Pelt
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Prince Tribute Concert, 2017. Photo by Hutton Supancic/Getty Images for SXSW

Prince Tribute Concert, 2017
Photo by Hutton Supancic/Getty Images for SXSW
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Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, 2018. Photo by Merrick Ales

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, 2018
Photo by Merrick Ales
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Andy McKee, 2012. Photo by Dan Slutsky

Andy McKee, 2012
Photo by Dan Slutsky
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Nicole Atkins, 2017. Photo by Merrick Ales

Nicole Atkins, 2017
Photo by Merrick Ales
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Albert Hammond Jr., 2018. Photo by Merrick Ales

Albert Hammond Jr., 2018
Photo by Merrick Ales
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Nathaniel Rateliff and Shakey Graves, 2018. Photo by Merrick Ales

Nathaniel Rateliff and Shakey Graves, 2018
Photo by Merrick Ales
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Outdoor Stage, 2014. Photo by Tye Truitt

Outdoor Stage, 2014
Photo by Tye Truitt
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Vintage Trouble, 2014. Photo by Jim Antich

Vintage Trouble, 2014
Photo by Jim Antich
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Riverboat Gamblers, 2007. Photo by Jay West

Riverboat Gamblers, 2007
Photo by Jay West
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El Freaky Colectivo & Friends, 2018. Photo by Carol Watson

El Freaky Colectivo & Friends, 2018
Photo by Carol Watson
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Erykah Badu, 2009. Photo by John Carrico

Erykah Badu, 2009
Photo by John Carrico
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Explosions in the Sky, 2009. Photo by Gideon Tsang

Explosions in the Sky, 2009
Photo by Gideon Tsang
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Foster the People, 2014. Photo by Nam Chau

Foster the People, 2014
Photo by Nam Chau
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Talib Kweli, 2008. Photo by Daniel Lewis

Talib Kweli, 2008
Photo by Daniel Lewis
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Shiny Toy Guns, 2012. Photo by Josh Anderson

Shiny Toy Guns, 2012
Photo by Josh Anderson
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Bowling for Soup, 2011. Photo by James Buchan

Bowling for Soup, 2011
Photo by James Buchan
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2018 Attendees. Photo by Letitia Smith

2018 Attendees
Photo by Letitia Smith
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Ozomatli. 2010. Photo by Bobby Arispe

Ozomatli, 2010
Photo by Bobby Arispe
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A Giant Dog, 2018. Photo by Jordan Hefler

A Giant Dog, 2018
Photo by Jordan Hefler
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Ice Cube, 2008. Photo by Daniel Lewis

Ice Cube, 2008
Photo by Daniel Lewis
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The Cult, 2012. Photo by Josh Anderson

The Cult, 2012
Photo by Josh Anderson
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Intocable crowd, 2016. Photo by Tim Strauss

Intocable crowd, 2016
Photo by Tim Strauss
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Los Lobos, 2018. Photo by Carol Watson

Los Lobos, 2018
Photo by Carol Watson
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Flaco Jimenez, 2018. Photo by Carol Watson

Flaco Jimenez, 2018
Photo by Carol Watson
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Bomba Estereo, 2012. Photo by Josh Anderson

Bomba Estereo, 2012
Photo by Josh Anderson
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2008 crowd. Photo by Daniel Lewis

2008 crowd
Photo by Daniel Lewis
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Rock Erickson, 2018. Photo by Shedrick Pelt

Roky Erickson, 2018
Photo by Shedrick Pelt
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Systema Solar, 2016. Photo by Tim Strauss

Systema Solar, 2016
Photo by Tim Strauss
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Outdoor Stage, 2017. Photo by Hutton Supancic/Getty Images for SXSW

Outdoor Stage, 2017
Photo by Hutton Supancic/Getty Images for SXSW
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