I DON'T know whether to congratulate or criticise the organisers of last weekend's Wan Chai International Music Festival. The effort put into the event was phenomenal but their lack of local music knowledge did not match their high ambitions. Their enthusiasm was impressive by Hong Kong standards and all important in putting on an event of this size. But precise organisation, by far the most important element, was lacking. A crying shame for not only spectators and the organisers themselves but also for the bands who put in much voluntary effort for whatever menial coverage they could get. Being the international event that it is, the festival rolled out the red carpet to foreign acts and seemed to forget that local bands, other than those fronted by former and present MTV veejays, even existed. Hot Sauce and the Power Onions would have been great value for MTV had they not received such a lacklustre reception from the crowd. But their prime-time allocations were essential because, without them, it would have been harder to snag MTV's involvement. And without MTV, there would be no international exposure. No international exposure means no international festival next year andso on. But it wasn't all snores among the crowd for the Power Onions set. A few restless party animals, tanked up on the brewery sponsor's product, decided they were not about to succumb to the musical sedative on offer and thought they'd do a bit of slam dancing to keep themselves occupied. Poor old Danny McGill thought they were enjoying his music and encouraged more of the same. And with the lack of security, the inevitable trouble started - alcohol plus rock 'n' roll and boredom equals trouble. Security was so poor that concert organiser Mark Thompson had to intervene to keep the peace. Band allocation was a disgrace from the start. With obviously no idea of the styles, talent or popularity of the local bands, the organisers went ahead with arguably biased suggestions as to who should get invitations and what time slots they should fill. Hence the heated debate a few months ago between themselves and bar owner Howard McKay resulting in the change of policy which originally stated ''no cover bands''. It was lucky for the management the policy was changed. When McGill came out to play a Stone Temple Pilots tune, when One Horse Blue imitated Crosby, Stills and Nash, when Filipino band The Dawn played the Beatles and Ratcat covered I Think We're Alone Now, the audience really woke up. Hong Kong Chinese bands were left in the wings with short early afternoon performances from HUH?!, Tai Chi and the shameful rejection of 852 Endeavour thanks to the constantly shifting schedule. A short unemotional apology was given to band leader Elvin Wong but there were no offers of a chance to play later in the day - leaving the band to catch the next minibus home, much to their followers' disgust. But it was not all bad news. The selection of the overseas acts could not have been better. A great job was done in nailing Apache Indian, Ai Jing, Ratcat and Technotronic. Too bad the backing tape jammed during Apache's first song. Perhaps he should bring a DJ or an actual band next time and play live music. The sound system was simply superb. Top-of-the-line guitar and bass amps, a whopping public address system and a fantastically equipped drum kit perfectly tuned to the surrounding acoustics really brought out the abilities of the musicians present. Audience feedback was generally favourable but backstage politics angered many bands. Events like these cannot be thrown together overnight and organised on advice from sources unfamiliar with the local scene. Let's hope it all comes together next year when the festival moves on to a bigger stage in the Government Stadium.