Last week Thursday, Bunny and I embarked on a journey to Oppikoppi 2014 Odyssey to celebrate the 20th anniversary of what has become one of South Africa’s truly iconic music festivals over the last two decades. We arrived at the farm near Northam around 9 AM, packed off our gear and booze and by 10 AM we were already having our first drinks of the day. Kudos to @BaasDeBeer for making this process a little speedier – he had already pitched our tents two days before we arrived.
Before you could say “In Dust We Trust” we were having our first drinks of the day and showing our Belgian friend, Evelien the layout of the festival (to make sure that she would not get totally lost over the weekend).
We listened to The Sextons and State Society with one ear whilst making our way to the festival bank to get moolah on our cards, caught a glimpse of Spoonerman (a band which featured a guy in a goldfish suit) and Trevor Robello (who eased the crowds into the festival spirit). The drinks and shooters started flowing after we bumped into Steve and Jolene (who probably renewed their passports before travelling to the festival from Benoni) and before we knew it we were at the Top Bar watching Dave Baudians as the sun was starting to set for first day.
Eventually we watched most of the last Wrestlerish show in the early evening (tears in our eyes as we were singing along to “Oliver Tambourine”) before getting our rock fix at the Wesley’s Dome with Dead Lucky and taking a revolutionary trip back to the mid 1990’s with Squeal. Sadly fatigue set during the Boargazm set (which pulled a larger crowd than expected) and we missed an epic set by Man As Machine, but after a quick powernap we were back in full force to experience the awesomeness that is Wonderboom and yet another brilliant set by Bittereinder (who played 9 songs off their upcoming third studio album). Eventually we crawled into our tents around 2 AM for some well deserved shut-eye.
We were up bright and early on Friday morning, but feeling a little wonky after a day of heavy drinking, so we eased into the day, drank a lot of water and a little less alcohol – we just decided to take it a little easier. The first act that we saw on Friday was David Beretta Owens (featuring a guest appearance by my friend Lizzy Love Mills) at the Top Bar. Next we caught a bit of The Olympic at the Wesley’s Dome stage and Canadian rockers The Last Supper before grabbing some lunch at the Braaiboy stand and refilling our drinks at the campsite. The Oppikoppi sun was beating down on my forehead, but I kept on going.
The barrage of great performances from local acts on Friday continued with Ard Matthews entertaining folks at the James Phillips stage and Urban Creep triggering 1990’s nostalgia at the Wesley’s Dome stage. Next Matthew Mole provided the perfect soundtrack as the sun was started to set on Day 2 of Oppikoppi 2014 and the crowds were prepping themselves for a great night of music.
Mr Cat & the Jackal kick-started the evening (and reminded me just how awesome they are live), then Gangs of Ballet blew audiences away with yet another brilliant live performance (which prompted the crowd to sing along loudly to “Hello Sweet World”), then Zebra & Giraffe celebrated 6 years in SA music with a mesmerizing performance, then Taxi Violence reminded everyone that rock ‘n roll was NOT dead with their blend of no-bullshit rock and Van Coke Kartel tore the whole of the festival a new one (even though their show featured a naked-guy being tackled on stage).
Springbok Nude Girls put on a very rugged performance up next and reminded me just how hardcore 1990’s SA rock was if you compared it to Afrikaans pop and Boere-musiek at that time. The evening’s proceedings ended with a kick-ass performance by PHFat and gallons of alcohol flowing and tired feet dancing at the top bar. I crawled into my tent at 3:30 AM.
Bunny and I were up early on Saturday and ready to embrace the last day of Oppikoppi 2014. After some breakfast, we found out that Jonathan Peyper’s performance had been postponed until later in the day (thanks to delayed soundchecks by one of the internationals). This did not deter our spirits and before you could say “Smiroff Spin” we were enjoying good tunes by the Sunday Punchers and Bandeleros before making up our way to the top bar to catch some awesome tunes by Lucy Kruger, Jonathan Peyper (who eventually played at 3 PM and did not disappoint) and Liela Groenewald. In the late afternoon we missioned down to catch some classy jazz tunes from Bra Hugh Masekela (who addressed the crowd in Afrikaans at some stage). I was blown away and became somewhat emotional (like most of the crowd watching the show).
Sundown on day 3 was upon us and after collecting my photo pass, it was off to the Wesley’s Dome Stage to enjoy some Blues courtesy of Dan Patlansky & Albert Frost. A stunning bushveld sunset provided the perfect setting for a performance that I consider to be one of the highlights of the festival. We took a breather before Shortstraw and Crazy Jay in a bikini (minus his Grind Radio raccoons) blew the crowd away at the James Phillips stage with their antics. Hearing the crowd singing along to “Bikini Weather” served as a reminder that SA Music was alive and well and that things can only get bigger from here on.
I decided to watch the Inspector Cluzo at the Bruilof stage and felt quite happy to find out that they still do not like the French president (honestly, who does?) and that the drummer likes to dance with girls (and guys). After this in took in some new tunes from the upcoming aKING album before heading off to the Editors at Wesley’s Dome stage.
I have to admit that I did not expect much from Editors, but they surprised me with their unique blend of Indie. I also realized that I know more songs by them than I initially thought. After this I indulged myself with some good old rock ‘n roll, thanks to American rock act Rival Sons. I have to admit that these blokes were one of the highlights of the festival for me, anyone who saw their set would surely agree with me.
Wolfmother made their way onto the Wesley’s Dome stage at 11 PM and completely rocked the Oppikoppi 2014 Odyssey crowd to the max. I have to admit that I expected a little more, but I wasn’t really disappointed either. Feeling Andrew Stockdales’ riffs tearing into my tired and dusty rock loving body during “Joker and the Thief” felt like pure awesomeness. I opted to skip the party on the last night and passed out before 1 AM. We left bright and early on Sunday and arrived safely back in Snor City around 2 PM.
Kudos to the Hilltop Live and everyone else involved in organizing Oppikoppi 2014 Odyssey. The festival flowed a lot better and there was a lot less dust than usual. Even the portapottis and toilets were not as dirty as usual. The card system worked and the beer and rum was cold. The organizers should consider building permanent ablutions inside the entertainment area though, walking the same route the bathrooms got a little boring after day 2.
To the idiot that ripped off Bunny’s number plate because he/she thought it would be funny: I hope something slightly unpleasant happened to you during the course of the festival like you greeting a thorn tree with open arms unexpectedly. It’s seriously fucked up, I don’t care how drunk or high you were when you did it.
How was the festival for you? Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Feedback is appreciated and welcome here. If you’ve enjoyed reading my review, feel free to share this article with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. Remember: Sharing is Caring.
Watch this space for regular updates in the Music category on Running Wolf’s Rant.