The last time I attended a full-weekend outdoor music event, the flooded tent, stolen goods and sleepless nights were reason enough to call an end to my festival camping days. Fast forward to 2010 and I find myself at the campground of the Oppikoppi farm in Northam.
As an Oppikoppi virgin, there was no way I could resist one of the biggest festival monsters in the country and since my youthful days are swiftly passing me by, I knew there was no better time than now. Needless to say, the amazing list of SA bands that would represent this year was motive enough.
Since recovering, I’m glad to report (grateful for written words as my voice remains strained) that my experience was entirely contrary to the last. This event was mind-blowing and for all the right reasons. Although I still had to brave the unbearable heat waves in the day with freezing cold spells at night and the gruesome toilets that leave you contemplating a tetanus injection, the timeless rock ‘n roll brilliance flooding the setting is mind absorbing.
The line-up was a combination of South Africa’s best bands alongside some of the most promising up and coming artists, with Billy Talent headlining the festival. This year welcomed a lot more heavy metal bands than usual and proved that the genre is pioneering the South African music scene.
The event featured some fine performances by New Holland, Zebra and Giraffe, Fire through the Window, Van Coke Kartel, Prime Circle and more. Spoiled with loads of sand to clog up our noses the masses were duly prepared for the sweat infested aroma that consumed the mosh pits.
There were also super chilled out acts by Gemma Ray from the UK and Lucky Fonz from the Netherlands. With a separate red bull stage that provided for the disco-junkies who wanted something a little more danceable, Oppikoppi organisers were well prepared in terms of catering for the diverse audience.
It is no doubt that Billy Talent was the beating pulse of Oppikoppi this year. These aggressive rock beasts launched into mainstream success in 2001 and have effectively released three platinum records, which certainly explains the raucous reactions from fans over the weekend. The Canadian superstars brought the crowds out by the tens of thousands and it is quite telling that this was the first sold out Oppikoppi ever in its 16 years of existence.
The quartet erupted on stage with caustic live energy and squashed all preconceptions of their inability to deliver. Front man, Benjamin Kowalewicz’s chipmunk voice is indistinguishable from the screamo screech in his songs and their act was nothing short of the masterwork on their albums.
The rebellious riffs of their distinct sound permeated through the air and into the crowd, prompting blissful disorder among the audience. With classics like ‘Fallen Leaves’ and ‘Devil in the Midnight Mass’ on the set list the crowd shamelessly resonated the lyrics.
Billy Talent has certainly set the standard high for future acts and are a model punk-rock band for South African musicians.
Crowds and festivities
During the three day festival, it was impossible for people to hide their sexy.crooked.teeth, as they strolled around with dumb-founded smiles on their faces. This event has evolved to include so much more than just great music.
With the bar located literally oppikoppi everyone managed to remain hydrated (or dehydrated rather) and it was the crowds who ultimately set the ambience. Oppikoppi was not shy of diversity and the unique characters and inebriated imbeciles only added to the hype. What was impressive was the maturity amongst the people, as the occasion was void of any recklessness.
The event culminated into an emotional journey of musical bliss, annoyance and outdoor adventure – which only serves to give the festival more of an edge. With Monday being Women’s Day, I felt anything but lady like and celebrated with a warm shower and a day of sleep in my bed.
What a cool weekend, but gosh it’s good to be clean and warm again”
Jean-Yves Martin (Knave)
“This was easily the best Oppikoppi I’ve ever been to! Thanks to all my awesome friends for making it so brilliant. I haven’t laughed so hard in years.”
Shane Forbes (Pestroy)
“The nuts! Was amazing! Everyone was oppi, but it definitely wasn’t just on koppi.”
Nemanja Stabic (Facing the Gallows)