In the Mix: Alcon helps ‘Revive’ music scene
BY JASON GENEGABUS / firstname.lastname@example.org
Hawaii’s Finest Clothing has come far since its humble beginnings on Molokai. For Paulele Alcon, printing up a few T-shirts and selling them out of his car has turned into retail locations on two islands (with more on the way), deals to distribute his designs in other stores on Oahu and a fledgling second career as a concert promoter and music industry executive.
REVIVE THE LIVE MUSIC FESTIVAL 2014
Featuring Katchafire (pictured), Fiji, Kolohe Kai, Maoli, Ekolu and Ooklah the Moc
“Everything is cherry,” Alcon said by phone earlier this week as he prepped for Saturday’s first annual Revive the Live Music Festival at the Waikiki Shell. “I’ve been pretty much hanging out with Katchafire the last two days. … I’m pretty much promoting.”
That’s not to say his clothing line is slipping. With a talented team in place, HI Finest continues to thrive with ongoing releases, including a new fall line scheduled to drop on Friday. Alcon understands that in order to keep his new projects in motion, he must continue to excel with the business that brought him initial success.
“The staff is solid at Hawaii’s Finest,” he said. “The clothing has been solid. We print more every line and the other stores order more every line.”
Since its launch in 2009, Hawaii’s Finest has opened stores on Molokai (2010) and Oahu (2013) with plans to expand to Kapolei on Oahu as well as Maui and Hawaii island. The growth in popularity of the brand, coupled with Alcon’s willingness to get out and network within the Honolulu nightlife and music scenes, resulted in new opportunities almost immediately.
“When I moved to Oahu from Molokai, I partied a lot,” said Alcon, 29. “I would always go to The Shack Waikiki and party with Micah G. Next thing you know, I was there every week. And then I started promoting my own shows.”
PICKING UP the promoter role wasn’t difficult, since Hawaii’s Finest had already “pretty much sponsored every band out of Hawaii” by providing free T-shirts for them to wear on stage. When it came time to booking those bands himself, Alcon had no problem capitalizing on the relationships he had previously established.
Changing musical tastes among the clubbing crowd soon presented a different challenge, however.
“The whole thing was, we started at The Shack when local music was really strong. Every weekend was raging. Then we hit a point where the rave scene kind of took over and all the local music promoters kind of gave up,” Alcon said. “For a year straight, our shows would barely break even.
“So I got this idea for the Revive the Live Concert Series campaign to bring the music back. I got Heineken on board, Island 98.5 on board and The Republik, I knew it would pick up and we’d have a really strong weekly party.”
Alcon was right; Revive the Live quickly became the go-to spot for live local music on Friday nights, taking advantage of The Republik’s spaciousness and quality sound system to attract approximately 1,000 party people to Kapiolani Blvd. each week. Soon the discussion turned to producing even bigger events based off the Revive the Live concept, and Alcon found himself in discussions to produce a concert at the Shell.
“My first concert I ever went to was at the Shell, he said. “It’s always been a dream of mine since I’ve started doing shows. Bob Marley played there. Elvis played there.
“I’ve done (concerts at) Kakaako (Waterfront Park) before, but not the Shell. Everything is falling into place. … Once things started moving along, I realized it’s not that hard. So now I have two more shows lined up there.”
FOLLOWING THE inaugural Revive the Live Music Festival, Alcon said he plans to celebrate Hawaii’s Finest’s five-year anniversary in December with a Winter Bash, followed by a traditional Hawaiian concert in the spring. He stressed that HI Finest isn’t just about reggae and island contemporary artists, noting previous efforts to land Journey and casual discussions he’s had with Robert Cazimero when the two crossed paths at their local Starbucks.
“I run into (Cazimero) at Starbucks three or four times a week, so I asked him what he thought if I started promoting traditional Hawaiian concerts and he was supportive,” Alcon said. “I don’t know much about music, but I feel like I don’t want to waste the resources I have. I’m busy, but I still want to take advantage of the opportunities.”
Along with fashion and music, Hawaii’s Finest also has plans in motion to make the jump into television. Alcon said he’s working on a “new, hip version of the ‘Hawaiian Moving Company’” that will feature rotating celebrity guest hosts and focus on Hawaii’s music, nightclub, automotive and mixed martial arts scenes.
But first, he’s got to get through this weekend. On top of the festival, Alcon plans to get a music video shot on Sunday (win access at Saturday’s show) and will also host an official Revive the Live Music Festival afterparty at The Republik with two of the bands from the festival’s lineup.
“I’m not too nervous,” said Alcon. “Ticket sales are decent. They’re so cheap, I know a lot of people are gonna pick them up last minute. It’s like this with every show.”
Jason Genegabus is Entertainment Editor/Online at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter and Google+.