By Conor O’Reilly
A is for asshole/arsehole(Br.). The international laws of music festivaling determine that this scurrilous type gravitate towards music festivals and wreck all the nice people’s fun. If you are an asshole/arsehole who cares for the well-being of others’ festival experience, please stay at home.
B is for bars, booze, bands, and from a male perspective, a distinct lack of bras (or, I should emphasise, a lack of them off and waving in the air) – without which the HBC Fest will never emulate Woodstock, the festival and not the bar in Itaewon.
C is for cars which,
for some reason, still try to drive down main street Haebangchon despite the fact that they should really just park and come and enjoy the quality tunes and good people.
D is for drinking, dancing, and a distinct lack of deliverers of dogma (not a band) – that shower caught me in the frozen food section of Homeplus the other day; I’ll never look at frozen mandu the same again. On festival day, please direct your enthusiasm for the former, and save the latter for Sunday morning, if you’re that way inclined.
E is for electricity, because without it, there’d be no festival or beer. KEPCO – we salute you.
F is for falling down a hill, which is something you should do your best not to do because everyone will laugh at you as there aren’t many soft spots to cushion you. Oh, and food which works as fuel for your festival frolics.
G is for Gaynor, Jim Gaynor (Austalianicus Mentalitata Burp) who won’t be there but if it wasn’t for Jim, there wouldn’t be much of a festival, let alone a notion of it. The once famous Australian with almost as many gold teeth as real teeth led the group Grooble, but it’s his legacy that most people are likely to recognise. Gaynor is the man responsible for concocting the notion of the The HBC Fest when pissed drunk some night in The Orange Tree. Fortunately for us he had a flashback, if that’s what you’d call it, and managed to be sober enough the next day to realise its potential.
H is for the hangover I intend to have the next day. It also stands for HBC Bar which doesn’t exist anymore so it’s not entirely relevant. While I’m on the letter H I reckon I should attempt a bluffers guide to the history of the HBC Fest:
On a wet and miserable March night many years ago in an Orange Tree that looked a lot different than its current manifestation, a certain Australian of disrepute was crouched over the bar trying to understand the meaning of life and whether or not he should be a cat for Christmas, or something to that effect. After the cat idea had been reasonably refuted by the voices in said Australian’s head, they moved on to discuss other possibilities occupied. Somehow, and it remains to be scientifically proven, a music festival was proposed. In an instant, said Australian’s ears perked and his head shot up as his eyes dilated into focus in recognition of the potential for a good piss up. Sometime in the afternoon of the next day, this very same man, now in the recognisable pose of a violently hungover kindergarten teacher or whatever it was someone gave him money to do during the week so he could drink at the weekend, had a flashback: a music festival in Haebangchon, cleverly called the Haebangchon Music Festival. Finishing the rest of his breakfast in one hearty swig, he dashed up the road to the one man he knew who help him save face, Lance of guitar wielding fame and current HBC Fest virtuoso. God knows how long they spent planning the thing, but I’m fairly sure the first one happened in or around July 2006.
Since then a lot has changed; the fest is bigger than ever, many of the original bands have moved on to new things, that Australian went to Japan where he rides horses and enjoys the finer things in life: raising a family, drinking expensive beer and wondering why his horses don’t predict earthquakes. Fear not, some things remain the same, such as Lance’s hairstyle. Rock n’ feckin roll!
I is for incandescent, and yes the fest really is.
J is for Jakobys which has decided it won’t be part of the festival as it only wants to serve burgers to the people who park their daddy’s BMW Z4 out front so they have something appropriate to hold onto as they adjust their Armani sunglasses. The HBC Fest has politely requested that you take your business to venues and businesses that support the festival: Orange Tree, Phillies, The Hungry Dog, V.F.W. Le Verte. Makoli Bar, The Local, Pinoy Mart, Indigo, Koba Woo, Casablanca, and Pita Time.
K is for the Kimchee Cowboys who, despite clearing house on more than one occasion, refuse to back down in their efforts at terrifying the constitutions for even the maddest of the HBC Fest faithful.
L is (oh, L is also for Lance who organizes the whole thing, but that’s not really that important).
M is for memory or lack of it the next day, and for many of us this also tends to be the case for during the day also. M is also for music (but that’s goes without saying), Makoli Bar – another new venue, Money which is necessary for the purchase of goods (booze, food,) and services (taxi to Hooker Hill…)
N is for noise – don’t complain if there is any or too much, because no one would like to take that responsibility from that nice old lady who has, in the past, taken it upon herself to let festival goers know how much she disagrees with the quality of music being performed. Throwing mud from the roof at Johnny Red was her more recent feat in current memory. Whether this was in honour of Johnny’s music or just general disdain for the fest, no one is likely to ever know.
O is for once at the fest…there are plenty of stories, musical performances or combinations, or just antics that will never go stale with age. Perhaps you can remember Frank smashing watermelons on his head in the middle of the street, the first Howlin’ Weenie madness, the late night shows, the never ending solos, and whatever other reason you have for coming back … or staying away. It’s such a wonderful place to be!
P is for police who, despite their reputation in many parts of the world, have your best interests at heart…I think. Anyway, one thing about the 5-O in Korea is they definitely are not keen to work hard; the less hard they have to work the more likely they are to give the old wink and a nod and leave you on your way. Essentially, if you’re nice to them they’ll be nice to you (I hope). So smile and say ‘yes sir, no sir, three bags full with a cherry on top, sir’. It is recommended not to dive over their car and piss them off when they’re trying to keep everyone as happy as is reasonably possible. Do I make myself clear? Now class, back to the alphabet.
Q is for questionable characters, frequently answering to the name ‘Kenny’, wandering the streets until all hours and in all stages of inebriation, but what’s new? It is Haebangchon. If one of these people is you, remember to smile at strangers and hold the door for old ladies – they may save your life one day.
R is for rooftops where you will might find secret barbecues, a great birds eye view of the street, or armies of ajumma preparing an attack on the fest.
S is for Ssen which doesn’t exist in body but will lie deep in our hearts for time immemorial. Incidentally, there are also seven venues this fest (p.s. don’t go to Jakoby’s for music, food or racist cocktails)
T is for t-shirts which you buy for around …eh not sure but I have more than I’ve had post-fest hangovers (C: this is a nice way of supporting the festival which has been provided to you for free for the past …eh…eh….lost count… four or five years)
U is for underground where most of the beautiful loud noise and festival sweat can be found. Phillies basement and …
V is for the VFW, the biggest venue with the biggest sound system (500 watts) and the biggest toilet, which is often clean with soap and hot water. Recently the venue has discovered an essence of personality with a paint job … or maybe the walls really are that dirty. Regardless, as it is in a basement with nice neighbours this venue is designed for the volume to be turned up high.
W is for water which is for quitters.
X is for xylophone because I’ve never seen one at the festival.
Y is for yippee – it’s this weekend!
Z is for zero, the amount of money/brain cells/memories/condoms/enemies/negative waves one is expected to have after this festival.
Conor is the peaceful type. Never one to start a fight and always one to believe in the inner-decency of his fellow man (the species), he has in the past managed and promoted a number of HBC Fests, notably the first Howlin’ Weenie Fest in 2007. Since then he stopped being popular. He is secretly bitter about his fall from grace and nowadays complains to himself regularly.
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