More than 120 music acts will converge on Itaewon next week, as HBC Fest marks the 10th anniversary of its fall festival.
The festival, which started with a few venues along the main street of Haebangchon, just north of Noksapyeong Station, has grown to 18 venues in the area and in adjacent Gyeongnidan.
But aside from growing in size, organizer Lance Reegan-Diehl said the festival still had the atmosphere it started with.
The LRD Band, led by HBC Fest organizer Lance Reegan-Diehl (right), will be one of the bands playing at the HBC Fest on Oct. 16-18. Lance Reegan-Diehl
“I think what’s changed is getting the ball rolling in the neighborhood. So many people know about it and know it’s coming, so that even when I put up the smallest flyer, people are just ready to go,” he said. “I think the reception’s really changed.”
This year will also make use of the underpass that links Haebangchon and Gyeongnidan, with a busker stage and food from Arabic House.
“Everybody starts playing around 4 p.m., and it’s just like old-time busking. You know, put down your hat and see what happens,” said Reegan-Diehl.
The use of the tunnel could also help join up the two halves of the festival.
“Some of the people playing are kind of on their way to Haebangchon or Gyeongnidan anyway. So it’s their warm-up show before they’ve got to do their actual venue,” he said.
However, other street stalls won’t be around, as the police have said they will crack down on street vendors to reduce congestion, which Reegan-Diehl sympathizes with, pointing out that some bars and restaurants were upset that people were selling food outside their doors.
“I think the main thing about this fest has always been that people should be more interested in going inside and seeing what’s going on,” said Reegan-Diehl.
As the festival has grown, it has attracted more bands from the Hongdae scene, in addition to the expat bands that often play in Itaewon. One act is even traveling up from Gwangju this year. It’s something Reegan-Diehl puts down to word of mouth.
“One of the club owners still has some interest in a club in Hongdae, so he’s pretty instrumental in a lot of things. Another friend of mine is really into the punk scene and he always helps me get some of that set over to Haebangchon,” he said.
“All he does is spread the word and pretty soon I’ve got 14 more acts that want to come over here, because you play a set and you kind of bum around and see what happens ― that’s the whole idea behind it.”
The festival runs from Oct. 16-18 in the Gyeongnidan and Haebangchon areas of Seoul, which can be reached by walking straight from Exit 2 of Noksapyeong Station.
The music starts at 8 p.m. on Friday at several venues, with the main music day running from 4 p.m. on Saturday. Craftworks will host music on Sunday afternoon and the Hidden Cellar and Phillies in the evening.
For a full schedule, visit hbcfest.com or the HBC Fest Facebook page.
By Paul Kerry (firstname.lastname@example.org)