Monday, March 04, 2013

I Love You Austin: My Guide To Having The Best Time Ever At SXSW.

That's me in the spotlight.
Most of you will know I went to SXSW last year as part of the Boxcutters podcast, and most of you will know I had a brilliant time.

If you're going this year, (hi Esther and Ben!), here's a few things you need to know.

Download the SXSW Go app now.
Do it. Here's the link again. Done? Good. Put it on your phone. Put it on your ipad. Now once you're done with this blog post, do all the registering and signing in you can because uploading your photos (you have to do this for your badge and other stuff), over in Austin is a drag. It took one of my mates ages.

Once you've done that, have an explore and lock in all the things you want to see. If that looks daunting you have a lot of time to do that on the plane on your way to Austin. This is fun.

Plan but don't get overwhelmed.
So once you've done all that you'll think there's so much on that you couldn't possibly fit it all in. It's Ok. You won't. Indeed, some afternoons you'll plan to see someone from a NY ad agency do a talk on crazy sneakers that read minds but instead you end up in a bar on 5th Street talking to a nice bunch of people wearing backpacks and nice shoes. "So what is it you lovely people do?" you'll ask. "Oh, we invented a thing called Tumblr. Want another drink?"

Get to the plane on time.
US customs is um.... difficult. And there's only a couple of planes going to Austin every day. Something goes wrong and you'll have a fun 50 hour trip like I did on the way back.

Bring light clothes and good walking shoes.
It's hot and you'll do heaps of walking.

Do I bring my phone?
Yes. Just deactivate global roaming and keep your wifi on. For twittering, using the SXSW app etc, there's free public WIFI everywhere in Austin. The free WIFI in the Convention Centre and the Driskill Hotel is teriffic. And if you can't find one, find a Starbucks or ask one of your new American friends to tether onto their phone. If you feel a need to use a phone to talk, buy a throwaway phone at a phone shop. They're cheap and they make you feel like a corner-boy in The Wire.

Hail a Chevrolet.
Chevrolet do a thing at SXSW where they drive around town giving people with badges a free lift to anywhere in Austin. All you have to do is hail one down with your badge. The nice driver will give you a spiel about the new car they're driving but that's not too much of a price to pay.

Also Austin locals are magnificent. Because they appreciate there's not enough taxis in their proud city, they hate seeing visitors trying to find one. That's why they love driving you home late at night or if it's raining. True. They insist. Happened to us MANY times.

Enjoy Austin.
There may be over 20,000 people visiting Austin for the festival but it was the quintessential Austin things that made my time there brilliant. Here's some.

Go see local band, Hot Club of Cowtown play at the Continental Club.
They're the world's best Western Swing band. I met locals who moved to Austin just so they can see Hot Club play every week. They're that good.

Get a dancing lesson at The Broken Spoke honky tonk bar.
See when Dale Watson's on. I've loved Dale for many years. His hair is my own hair's inspiration. He'll play Texas Two Step dancing music for hours and hours and you won't want to leave. You'll need to take a taxi but it's worth it. One of the craziest nights I've ever had. Long story. Get me drunk and I'll tell it to you. Anyway at midnight the owner sings a song and a broken spoke is I don't know. Look. Just see the video I shot.

You've never had BBQ if you've never had Austin BBQ.
I can't stress this enough. Austin BBQ is life changing. The place people talk most about is the Salt Lick which also has a restaurant in the Austin airport.
A rib at Iron Works yesterday.
But I recommend Iron Works, also the BBQ truck near Antone's and the Sugar Shack near the University. Go to any place that sells pulled pork and ribs and you'll be happy. Also Franklin BBQ is supposed to be amazing.
Also on 5th Street, drop into Tears of Joy for your hot sauce supply to bring back home. It's a ridiculous place. Frank's Hotdogs is also great.

Get cowboy boots and jeans at Allen's Boots.
Allen's on Congress is heaven for cowboy boots. Give yourself at least an hour to decide because you could lose your mind. They also sell jeans at less than a third of the price you get them in Australia. The Wranglers I have on right now cost $28 US.

And over the road get a gumbo at this place. Read more about it here. There's also a great second hand book shop with lots of cool first editions a few doors up from Allen's.

Most of all, tip your bar staff, talk to everyone and have a blast.

You never know what these weeks will lead to.

Like what I'm doing here? Well, hire me as your next copywriter. Mostly freelance but I prefer fulltime. Call me on 0433360199 or email me at I'm available right now.

1 comment:

Esther Clerehan said...

Thanks Glenn, this is really brilliant. I am not even sore where to start when I get there but am going to make sure I have fun.

Qantas has a feature on Austin in their current inflight mag (March). They even mention SxSW. Amazing.

Will report back.