Keeping the Whole Gig Local: HBC Fest, the Street, and the Reason We Can Afford to Put the Thing On in the First Place!

For as long as I can remember the HBC Fest has been seen as the next Glastonbury or Woodstock (the original one of course) with oceans of people, great bands, free love, and a safe environment in which to experience the acts on show. Of course the HBC Fest provides all of these, however the festival’s biggest problem these days is that most people aren’t particularly interested in the environment provided and tend to congregate on the streets.

Now, never let it be said that I’m not a fan of banter, believe me I love it! You will see me, that is if you recognise me, enjoying plenty of banter on the day on the street or in a bar or wherever it is you may find my self to be. How and ever, it has become a bit of a problem this whole globalised banter addiction phenomenon, especially when there is a loads of open space nearby which is actually in fact, an busy street. I’m talking about the quantity of punters who do be on the streets having ‘a laugh’, and as I said in The Three Wise Monkeys article, trying to raise their chin’s higher than the person they are talking to. The HBC Fest is turning into a street party more than a music festival.

First of all, this is one of the great things about the HBC Fest; there is a real sense of community on the streets with barbecues, friends meeting, and all round good vibes. But, unfortunately it’s also a big problem what with the large volumes of traffic that pass through this way every Saturday afternoon, and for some of the residents who live in the area that dislike the noise and confusion (like them or loathe them, they have rights and opinions too). Is there a solution?

I talk to lots of people who aren’t directly connected with the festival and many of them present a joint unanimous recommendation: close off the street and put up a stage! It would be a great solution, it really would. There is more than one reason as to why this apparently obvious solution to the HBC Fest’s biggest problem. But it needs to be reiterated and said out loud as often as possible: There will never be a HBC Fest where the street is closed off and a stage erected. It’s as simple as that.

As I’m a decent skin, I will also offer you an explanation to the best of my ability. Let’s start with the negative side of things, the road itself.

Any resident of Haebangchon will know that the traffic gets heavy there regularly in the evening, and on Saturdays this is especially the case. To close the street you need to get the permission of the police, following the support from the local gu, in this case Yongsan. There are a hundred-and-one other tiny things to do, but the chances of an underground festival already notorious with the local law enforcement being recognised as a legitimate cultural event that unites the foreign and Korean communities whilst promoting Seoul as a global city is highly unlikely, especially when you consider that the main reason that anyone actually goes to the HBC Fest is to get rat-arsed/pissed/wasted/arseholes (as my mammy would describe it).

More importantly, the HBC Fest has always been a festival supported by the community. To stage an event like this would require significant sponsorship, something that would relegate the HBC Fest’s biggest supporters to mere bit players in this twice a year musical extravaganza!

If it wasn’t for the bars and restaurants that gladly sponsor the HBC Fest there would be no festival. Not only do the venues pay for the sponsorship, equipment rental, and promotion among other things, they do so that people will come to their business and enjoy their hospitality to the sound of a very special selection of live music that is only available in the neighbourhood at no cost to the reveller (idiot proofing: beer of course being the main cost for all things in life, there is no added admission fee)

The HBC Fest is by far the largest showcase of live independent music that you will find in Korea, and I would think that there is not an event like it in all of East Asia. Again, it is because of the bars that this event happens, so why would they want to take the focus away from them?

When I started writing this post I had a thought that there was more I had to say, but I reckon if I go on I’ll just be repeating myself, so I’ll finish up with these few points:

–       Keep the festival centred on the venues, without them there would be no festival

–       Stay off the streets and in the bars and save the cops having a reason to cause mischief

–       Buy your beer in fest supporting venues and stop the cheapskates from making money off other people’s hard work.

–       Listen to the bands, buy cd’s, buy fest t-shirts, talk to the performers, and smile; it’s a music festival not a fashion show.

–       Remember that it’s a Haebangchon event, not Itaewon’s, not Seoul’s, not Korea’s.

Peace & Big Smiles Music Fans!

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