Oh wise and wonderful ones, where would we be without you? Sitting in a hovel waiting for something good to happen perhaps? Or maybe complaining about all the good that could happen? Certainly not, as the case is, waiting for the good that definitely will happen this Saturday! Yes music fans, it’s Tuesday and that means that it’s nearly Saturday (it’s especially the case if you don’t work on Fridays like me), and that means the streets and bars will be bubbling over with jolly revellers belly ful with the joys of October and nothing but delight and hopeful anticipation for another smashingly wonderful HBC Fest!
But what is it that makes the HBC Fest? Well, I could say it is the people who fill the bars, or it’s the bars that fill with people, or it’s the beer that fills the people, but without one thing there would be no full bars and no full people. What is it that can create such a mass migration up the narrow alleys to Haebangchon? Allow me to enlighten you.
All things aside, the one constant feature of the HBC Fest since its instigation has not been Haebangchon itself, nor has it been the environment (those of you who have been there down through the years will have noticed the changes) or the venues (because they’ve all changed hands and mutated and transformed too), no it has been a man, like many of us, a simple human being born from a mammy with the help of a daddy. A man. A man with a long hair and a goatee almost as long.
This man, although he may try to look like Jesus Christ at times, is not divine and definitely not saintly (I can vouch but I will not testify), he’s what you could call the grease in the wheel, the steam in the piston, the wind in the sails. His name is Lance Reegan-Diehl, but you can call him Lance.
I’ve know Lance since my very first weekend in Korea and despite all that has changed and how he has moved on from those days as the leader of the house band in Itaewon’s Woodstock, he’s still the same fella who is fairly handy with an ould guitar … … and is rarely shy of a round of jagermeisters. Of course these days, he’s a little bit busier what with organising pretty much single-handedly the entire HBC Fest for the past three years (I helped for a couple of years and then there was a dodgy Australian fella with tattoos who likes wearing tutus or nothing at all). The mechanics of the fest seem epic, but having learned from mistakes, Lance is now a finely tuned festival producing mechanism that can take on the best that Korea can throw at it!
There isn’t a moment that goes by that Lance isn’t running around checking the stages, making videos, stopping for a quick laugh and wisecrack. Lance is nothing but prepared for the majority of challenges that come his way. Yes, this festival, despite what you may think, is all about LRD.
At the last festival I was shocked when Lance turned to me meekly sipping a coke. “Where’s your beer Lance?” I queried. “Conzie”, Lance declared, “I’ll have my fun later, I’ve a festival to run”. Such professionalism one wouldn’t have witnessed some years ago because I distinctly remember myself and Lance not really remembering much after several festivals, and it was not the loud music that dimmed our wits. It’s safe to say, and Lance will heartily agree with me on this, the HBC Fest is the fest with no frontiers, but also a festival that has learned most of all from its mistakes.
But this is a celebration and not an apology; onward with the positive waves!
Essentially, the HBC Fest is a one man show put on by Lance with the support of the bars. But why would you bother bringing so much trouble on yourself? Well, the answer is pretty simple. Lance has always been a Haebangchon resident, longer than many of the venues, and his dedication is a testament to his support for the community, his community, and for many, “our community”. Haebangchon is for many the place that we can call a safe home away from the sheer size of Seoul. More so than Itaewon, Haebangchon is the cultural and artistic centre of the waeguk scene in Seoul. While it may not carry the allure of Hongdae, it is Haebangchon’s deep down dirtiness that draws so many of us to live there, or as close to it as we can get! Lance’s hard work almost comes as second nature to him as he positively seeks to promote and maintain the strong sense of community that is hard to find as many of us are spread out in dongs and gus all around Seoul and the surrounding satellite cities.
There is no one in that area who has worked harder for the area on an artistic level; Lances studio and shop have been around for longer than I have, and as he branches out on tours in Europe and Asia, he always comes home to Haebangchon, his home, it is his life. It is his festival.
Thanks to Lance, Rock n’ roll proudly lives on in Haebangchon.
LRD, I raise my glass to you!
P.S. The next round is on you, Lance.
Please support the HBC Fest’s partners
“Why don’t you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don’t you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?”
– St. Oddball
(As with some previous posts, feel free to share it with others as much as you like, but remember who wrote it. Sure ye wouldn’t like it if I did it to you! Sound.)