SXSW: The Great Psychedelic Armadillo Picnic

Honey’s managing director Mark Terry-Lush on how to get off the beaten path in Austin.

Kinky Friedman is exactly the kind of person you hope you’ll bump into in Austin airport: sporting a cowboy hat and boots, embroidered shirt with a penchant for barbecued food. Friedman is an American singer, satirist and novelist who – I think – wrote the coolest book about Austin, the location for SXSW, which kicks off this Friday.

Friedman’s book is dubbed a ‘walk’ in Austin and takes the reader on a rollicking, rock-and-rolling tour of his favorite city.

I got my first taste of Kinky’s Austin last year, when I cut my teeth on the interactive festival. It was an overwhelming experience, almost spiritual, fuelled by VR, AR, MR dancing robots and late nights in bars meeting folks from NASA, infamous musicians, the odd movie star and spies from British Intelligence.

As much as I did learn, I wish I’d read Kindy’s book before I stepped off the plane from London – I would have got 10 times more out of my experience. His insider’s guide to Austin in 2004 is a timeless gallop through his theory that all Eagle Scouts become mass-murderers, why you should never trust a man named either Charles or Wayne, and his various rants on Willie Nelson.

SXSW veterans and virgins alike should buy a copy and learn the history of a city that birthed Janis Joplin, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and countless other music legends. It’s all there in a slightly insane, practical, and kick-ass guide to the coolest city in Texas.

And, much as I’ll enjoy hearing about why Ethereum is going to change the world, Lena Dunham’s take on Authenticity and Media in 2018, and NASA’s Quest for Alien Life, it’s avoiding the Convention Center that I’m really looking forward to.

Forget the articles that focus on what to wear, where to go, what to eat and so on, switch off the SXSW app and take some time to explore. Look to the intimate gigs that Kinky would approve of. After all, you don’t accomplish much by swimming in the mainstream. Hell, any dead fish can do that.

So, as I dust off my cowboy hat and polish my brontosaurus-foreskin boots, follow Honey social on Twitter and Instagram to get to the real heart of this great event.

Read MTL’s 2017 Echoes of Austin blog and sign up for his Kinky updates from SXSW 2018.

Mark Terry-Lush