We flew down to Cape Town on the Sunday before Up The Creek 2015 and it was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. This gave @BaasDeBeer and I enough time to catch up with some good friends in Cape Town. I’ve made my way to the Mother City a few times over the years, but I have not properly visited this amazing city properly since December 2009. It was great seeing Adri, Adrian, Fiefie, @tatibble, Rickus, Liana, Menzi and a few other Pretoria ex-pats while we were there.
Due to some miss-communication, @BaasDeBeer and I had to take the Greyhound bus from Bellville to Swellendam on the Wednesday before Up the Creek and I must say that it was interesting trip. It did take us longer than expected to get there and we finally arrived on the farm around 9:30 PM on Wednesday. Not much was happening, so we decided to catch up on some well-deserved sleep. A rough night at the Shack causes that you know.
On Thursday we set up tents and waited for the festival gates to open at around 3 PM. The blistering 35+ degree heat did not discourage festival hungry people from queuing outside the festival gate from 11 AM. Finally the bars opened, the camp site started filling up and the festival kicked off with Guy Collins playing a solo set on top of the MK Jam Van around 4 PM.
The first act on the Jagermeister stage on Thursday night were Cape Town Blues rockers, the Ballistics (formerly known as Balistics Blues Band) and they came out in full force, not disappointing the crowd with their blend of in-your-face Bluesy rock ‘n roll. Next up were Cape Town based hard rock act, Stoker. It was the first I saw these okes and I have to say that I was pretty blown away. I can’t believe I missed their set at Oppikoppi last year and I won’t be missing their set on their on a festival line-up in the future. What a friggin’ band.
Next up were Red Huxley. These blokes have played at Park Acoustics a few times, but it was fun seeing them in their backyard. The vibe energy during their set was electric. After them veteran SA rockers aKING played one of the best sets I’ve seen them play. It did not take the crowd long to start singing along to songs like “Safe as Houses” and “The Dance”. The last act of the evening were Scicoustic and they too did not disappoint with their guitar-driven sound.
This did not mean that the party was over though, festival goers were transported to a dreamy place by to the sounds of the Lyzyrd Kyngs featuring loopmeister Dave Ferguson and later on Gerald Clark and George van der Spuy (from Taxi Violence) joined in the festivities. I crawled into my tent around 3 AM.
I was up early on Friday morning and after a shower and some breakfast I grabbed my water bottle and my camera and missioned down to the Sedgewicks river stage to enjoy some tunes. Dave Ferguson started the days festivities, followed by the Lyzyrd Kings, Gerald Clark and Mean Black Mamba. I have to say that I witnessed the most epic band changeover in history. It’s not every day that a lead guitarist urges a drummer to “Set up really” fast and fall in while 4 musicians are already jamming on the stage. Pretty damn impressive if you ask me.
Manny Walters and Basson Laubscher played at the Hunters stage in the late afternoon and attracted many sun soaked festival goers with their unique sound. Manny Walters showcased his amazing vocal talent and Basson gave everyone a taste of his blend of what Marley’s boyfriend Rob called “Happy Blues”.
By 7 PM the main stage action started with Bye Beneco (who suprised many Cape Townians with their unique sound). Next up were John Wizards (with their weird and highly irritating electronic blend of music) followed by Beatenberg (who had all the ladies in the crowd drooling in no time).
After this Al Bairre played a very energetic set which saw the crowd dancing and jumping up and down to their cover of Mango Groove’s “Special Star” (which had some die hard SA music fans smirking because it did not the song justice in their opinion – a sentiment that I shared as well). Zebra and Giraffe were up next and I was impressed by how much they tend to move around on stage nowadays. These boys really brought the party to festival goers before Taxi Violence tore the crowd a new one with a set that absolutely blew me away. The evening ended with Naming James playing a set on the MK Jam Van. I crawled into my tent around 2 AM.
On Saturday I woke up early, but stayed inside tent a little longer than I usually do because it was raining outside. Because of this the organizers had to move the river stage to the Hunters stage, but it did not discourage festival goers from having a good time. The first three acts of the day were Manouche (who had the crowd dancing to their blend of swing), Grassy Spark (who amazed the crowd with their ska sound) and Crimson House Blues Band.
Next up was Shaun Jacobs and his band (who mesmerized the crowd with catchy lyrics and dreamy sound), followed by Diamond Thug (a Cape Town band that I have not seen before), but one of the highlights of the day was Bandolero. This make-shift band of excellent musos amazed the crowd with their arrangement of amazing songs. It’s not every day that you see Andre Kriel (the Black Cat Bones), Gareth Wilson (Southern Gypsey Queen), Jamie Acheson (Naming James), Albert Meintjies (Scicoustic), Guy Collins, Len Miskin, Gideon Meintjies (Scicoustic), Conrad Jamneck (Fake Leather Blues Band), Piet Botha (Lyzyrd Kings / Jack Hammer) Greg Georgiades (Scicoustic) and Chris van der Walt (the Black Cat Bones) on one stage.
The evening’s party started with Nomadic Orchestra (which had the crowd dancing in no time). Next up were Qadasi (which reminded us of the influence Johnny Clegg has had on SA Music) and the December Streets (who seemed to have grown up a lot since I first saw them live in 2010).
Around 10 PM Shortstraw made their way onto the stage and delivered one of the best shows that I’ve seen them play. It’s not every day that you seen Half and Half diving onto the crowd in a floating mini rubberduck. Next up were Hot Water (an act that I first experienced at Up The Creek in 2012) and I was amazed by how tight this unique African sounding act (featuring the trumpet dude from Springbok Nude Girls) was. The last act on the main stage were the Black Cat Bones (which at one point featured Rot crowd surfing on a mini rubberduck). This act gave the crowd exactly what they needed, an injection of hardcore blues rock, Pretoria style.
I managed to stay awake to catch a bit of the December Streets’ set on the MK Jam Van before heading off to the Hunters stage to experience Sawagi (a Japanese band that apparently only knows 10 words in the English language). Not long after that the whiskey and Jagermeister took it’s toll and I eventually crawled into my tent around 3:30 AM.
I woke up early on Sunday, in time to catch first ever Southern Wild set. This act featured David van Vuuren and Dylan Hunt and was the perfect act to start proceedings on the day. Naming James played next and at that point I missioned down to the river to take in some of the MK Jam Van’s tunes before finally organizing a lift back to Cape Town and heading back to city around 3 PM.
It was the first time in three years that I’ve attended Up The Creek and I have to say that the festival has grown and changed a bit. It was a lot of fun, but at times it seemed a little bit too crowded. The organizers should really look at putting up another bar and building more ablutions to cope with the increased numbers. Another thing they should look at is implementing a standard rate for a bottomless water bottle (and not charge festival goers R15 for a litre of water and R5 a refill). Besides this, I have no other real complaints. Kudos to the organizers for pulling off another fun festival. I will try my best to be back next year.
Special thanks to Rix (for picking us up at the airport), to Conrad (for getting us to Up The Creek from Swellendam), to @tatibble and Rickus (for taking us in before the festival), to Esmerelda (for getting us back safely in Cape Town) and to @randomshona and Norbert (for taking us in after the festival and dropping us at the airport).
Watch this space for regular updates in the Photography and Music category on Running Wolf’s Rant.