Many people don’t understand how small time bands function. It’s a total team effort, but unlike the big rock stars we all know and love, small timers have to do everything on their own.
Let’s take a band like Guns N Roses, as an example. They have a staff of hundreds that plans every show, every appearance, everything. The band members just show up in their limos, do a sound check, go back to a 5 star hotel with hookers, blow, midgets and ponies. They may take a nap before the show, or until Axl decides to show up. They eat the best food, drink the best alcohol and ride in the best manner possible. After the show, they go back to the 5 star hotel or onto their private jet to do it all again the next day, for a billion dollars.
The Man Wons are the polar opposite. Each member of the band has a function. Many fans may not realize this, but their loyal drummer Jude, is also their manager. He sets up all the gigs, negotiates the fee and the number of free drinks they receive at each venue. There are no hookers and blow and midgets at a Man Wons show. The budget just doesn’t allow for it.
Many may also be surprised to learn that bassist James Greig is the travel coordinator. His love of the Korean train system is beyond understandable. He books all of the train tickets, and he always does it with a smile on his face.
Lead Vocalist Justin carries the shirts the band has for sale to each of the gigs. Thirty shirts can be pretty heavy. The rest of the band understands his constant complaining.
Ken runs the website and takes abuse for being the oldest member of the band. Someone has to be the whipping boy and if the four other maniacs think it’s f&$#ing funny to take out their f$#%ing insecurities on an old man, then he’s f$%^ing fine with that. He also choreographs all the moves you see and love on stage.
The Man Wons do have some help. The wonderful Dodi Falcon is the official photographer. The also excellent Ross Lace designed the Man Wons logo. Colt Worley shows up sometimes with his trumpet and makes the band sound even better than you can imagine. The list goes on from the taxi drivers and train conductors who get them to the gigs to the bar owners, Edward, Jonathan, Paul, Charles and many others who allow the bands to get noisy once in a while.
Anyways, as was mentioned earlier, GnR gets limos, helicopters, hookers, midgets and ponies. The Man Wons, on May 14th, 2016, on the way to a show at the Gapyeong Craft beer festival got trains, subways, buses and Van Walker, the exact opposite of a midget.
For those who don’t know, Gapyeong is North-East of Seoul and a hop, skip and jump away from Kim Jeong-Eun and his merry band of nut-cases. The red dot on the right is Daejeon, hometown of half the bands that played at the Festival. The blue dot is Gapyeong. This writer’s GPS lists it at just under 200 km. That’s not bad if you’re the GnR boys, but for The Man Wons, it’s not quite that luxurious.
The day began at about 7 AM for our fearless road warriors as the first leg of their journey commenced at 7:15 at Daejeon Train Station. It should be noted here that when The Man Wons travel, they don’t always do it together. On this day, Jude and the 6th Man Won, Dodi, were separated from Justin, James and Ken on the train, while Brett, who doesn’t really enjoy the company of his 4 band mates, decided life would be easier if he drove up to the festival.
As Jude and Dodi settled into their train seats, The Three Amigos took their seats in the first row of the first car of the train. Prime seats…or so they thought. It was clear very early on in the ride that this would be an unpleasant trip. The 2 children sitting directly behind Justin and Ken had a wonderful trip as they invented a game called “Let’s piss off the rock stars in front of us by continually kicking their seats for the whole trip.”
Add to this the ever-present aroma of Sam Gyeop Sal and garlic belches filled the front row of the train and you have a recipe for disaster.
Luckily, the KTX train ride to Seoul is a quick one, and after an hour of ass-shaking kicks in the heiny , 4/5 of the band made their way from the train to the subway to the bus that had been provided for the band, to get them to the Festival. The bus was loaded with fans and party-goers…and Van Walker, whose band The Bump City Band, would headline both nights in Gapyeong. I wonder if mega-stars like, say Rick Springfield, have to travel in a bus with the fans.
“Probably not,” says James Greig, “When you write Jessie’s Girl, you pretty much call the shots.”
Without a police escort to the venue, The Man Wons were stuck in traffic for what seemed like an eternity, in a bus filled with morning beer drinkers and hell raisers, all of whom had to pee. Wouldn’t you know it, the bus driver on this leg of the trip was the only driver in Korea who refuses to stop for a pee break. (Guaranteed, Axl pees when he say he has to pee.) Long story short, we finally peed, stocked up on beer and headed off for the final 20 minutes of the trip.
The venue for this year’s Beer Fest, presented by Good Time ROK, by the way, was gorgeous. Surrounded by hills, it made for a beautiful setting as the busload arrived to the sound of The FishinGirls. These 4 ladies from Daejeon were wonderful, great sound, great look and lots of fun. But wait, why were they on first? The band schedule clearly stated that The Monday Feeling would open the festival.
Again, no police escort for the bands, TMF was stuck in traffic so the FishinGirls volunteered to kick things off. Speaking of traffic, Brett was nowhere to be found.
When he finally did arrive, it was 빨리 빨리(quick, quick), set up and play, soundcheck be damned. Despite some sound problems (Was Brett even turned on?), a wonky snare drum and a bass amp mic that was on a perpetual spin cycle, The Man Wons plowed through their set to a crowd of 10 (Dave and Su Jeong, Shawn Burton, Matt Ross, Jinny Soon-To-Be Caldwell, Dodi and The FishinGirls (Bless their hearts)) . It was ridiculously hot and the majority of the partiers were either in the shade or in line for food.
The setlist was a killer, and included The Man Wons first original song, Too Big To Fail. The band was tight, Justin was struggling in the heat and the 10 rockers soon doubled as more and more drinkers got up close and personal with their heroes. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and as the band wrapped up their set with a rousing rendition of Kids, The Monday Feeling finally showed up to take the stage.
“Man, they were on fire, literally,” says Atlantic AM’s Dave Robinson. “Hey, have you met my girlfriend?”
Shawn Burton concurred. “The Man Wons! Shawn Burton! Perfect day!”
Even Van Walker got in on the hype. “Yeah, they’re a’ight! ”
As The Monday Feeling blistered through their set, The Man Wons were off doing an in-depth interview with MyScene TV Louisiana, that will be posted soon. The Primary, Bold Coast and The Bump City band rounded out a stellar line-up of bands.
This festival is something all music fans should get out to. Great bands, great beer, great scenery and great times. (The next one happens at Everland on June 10-12. The Man Wons will be rockin’ on Sunday, June 12.
But for our heroes, it was back on the train, then another train, then yet another train and finally a cab to get back to the comfy confines of their own beds in Daejeon. A long, but wonderful day wrapped up as The Man Wons began thinking and preparing for May 21st, a headlining gig in Suwon at Alleyway Taphouse.
Click here for Gapyeong pics.