We left Pretoria early on Thursday morning and arrived at the Oppikoppi farm (12 km from Northam in the Limpopo province) at around noon. After setting up tent and mattress I downed my first Windhoek Lager of the weekend and the party was on.
This year we camped and kuiered in style in Mordor thanks to Sledge and @BaasDeBeer (who set up “Die Baas Se Plaas” / “Sledgetopia” on the Wednesday already). Roughly 60 people were camping with us this year, so we had 6 or 7 couches to keep our boudjies comfy and 3 gazebos to stop the sun from turning us into real prawns. It was really lekker. We also never really ran out of firewood and ice (which was also a bonus).
I woke up fairly early on Friday morning, realizing that we had finished a bottle of Brandy and half a case of beer, had played a round of Kings and Card Against Humanity with some comedians and that I had barely survived, but there was no time for hangovers: it was day 1 of Oppikoppi 2015.
After collecting my photo pit pass, putting cash on my Oppikoppi card and grabbing a bite to eat it was time brave the day. Sadly I missed the Apollo and Scarlotte Will, but I did get my Glam Rock fix at LA Cobra’s set before catching a bit of CMR (who were a surprising awesome act to watch). The next hour was spent watching Adventure Man (Gad from Shortstraw’s side project) before I decided to divide my time between Manny Walters (on the Bruilof Stage) and Japan and I (on the Main Stage). I was not disappointed. Those chicks from Japan and I can totally rock the fuck out.
Next up was the Ts an Cs (on the James Phillips stage). These blokes played one hell of a rocking set and I’m curious to see what they’re going to bring the SA rock scene in the near future. I also caught a bit of Greedy Greg before heading off to the campsite to catch Kabaal Klankbaan playing a set on Conrad Jamneck’s Kombi (as the sun was setting).
After a re-supply mission it was time for some comedy at the Love Triangle and I have to admit that Deep Fried Man owned that session. His new songs are really catchy and funny and just put me in a good mood for the entertainment that was on offer for the rest of the evening.
Next up were The Curious Incident (a brilliant live act from the UK) and The December Streets (who attracted a huge crowd at the Main stage). Minion Dancing and flag waving was on the menu and the crowd sang along to most of their songs, most probably catching the Pretoria laaities by surprise. The atmosphere was truly electric. Cortina Whiplash was on the Skellum stage next and everyone got their grunge and rock chick fix before making their to the Main Stage for aKING.
aKING delivered one of the best performances to date and I have to admit that I was completely blown away. I also got a little teary-eyed when I heard the crowd singing along to “Safe as Houses”. It’s not every day that you hear 16,000+ people doing this. Next up were Stoker on the James Phillips stage. They rocked the fuck out and had the crowd rocking the fuck out in no time as well. This Cape Town based band is one of the most underrated acts in the country and truly needs a lot more attention from SA rock fans if you ask me.
Next up were The Parlotones. Their music may be monotonous, but their set was not as boring as I expected it to be. It was a showcase of their professionalism and fans were singing along to their songs, but it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. After this I watched most of New Academics’ set (which was totally awesome because the lead singer did his thing in a tiger onesie) before calling it an early night (after some campfire chitchat and tunes).
Day 2 started with some beer, rump and boerewors for breakfast and before you could say “Babbalas” we were enjoying Tuin’s set at the Skellum stage. This Pretoria lady has the voice of an angel and it was great to see her play her first Oppikoppi set. Watching her colab with Kobus De Kock Jr (from the Black Cat Bones) was just the cherry on top. I also made sure to catch a bit of State Society’s set on the James Phillips stage before rushing off to the Bruilof stage to catch Southern Wild.
Southern Wild completely blew me away. David van Vuuren’s energy is electric and I’m definitely earmarking them as one of the acts to watch in the near future. I made my way to Naming James at the top bar next to get my sing-a-long fix before heading all the way down again to experience a hoe-down (thanks to Georgetown) and then found myself at the Main stage watching Al Bairre. Great South African music was abundant and I wasn’t planning on missing any of it.
Next, I climbed up that steep bloody hill (on the Main Stage side) to catch Taxi Violence playing a set on the Windhoek deck (which featured appearances by Albert Frost and Guy Collins). This combination of an amazing sunset view over the farm and main stage, an intimate and rocking Taxi Violence set and a cold Windhoek Lager or three tantalizing my taste buds was definitely one of the highlights of the festival for me.
The Black Cat Bones were up next on the Main Stage and these boytjies did not disappoint. Bassist Chris Van der Walt pulled a Dave Grohl, injuring his leg three songs into their set, but like a true rock star he pushed through till the end, playing most of it on a gear crate. After Jason Oosthuizen’s wet drum solo (which was also pretty rockstar) it was time to catch Tweak on the James Phillips stage.
I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical when Tweak were announced, but they completely blew the Oppikoppi 2015 crowd away. They played all of their old hits, legit covers of Blink 182, Green Day and Bloodhound Gang songs, showered the crowd with penis confetti and ran the Fuckometer up to over “9500 fucks” in roughly an hour. I was impressed and am now looking forward to their upcoming tour.
I took a breather for an hour before tackling the road up the Oppikoppi hill to watch SA music legend, Matthew Van Der Want at the top bar before hurrying down again to catch a bit of Sannie Fox at the Bruilof stage. Desmond and The Tutu’s were up next and attracted a huge crowd (and they played one hell of a set), Cape Town based funk act The Nomadic Orchestra impressed and entertained us on the James Phillips stage.
Headlining act for Friday, PH Fat, followed last year’s amazing performance with yet another brilliant one. I managed to catch After Robot on the Bruilof stage, before heading back to camp for some campfire tunes and chit chat. I crawled into my tent around 2:30 AM.
Day 3 started with some early morning comedy at the Love Triangle featuring Werner Cloete, Hannes Brummer, Alyn Adams, Nqoba Ngcobo and John Vlismas (which had everyone in stitches) and then we were off to the Skellum stage to enjoy Satanic Dagga Orgy (who played their whole set dressed in Speedos). I spent the next hour watching Ruby Gill (a girl with the voice of angel from Durban) at the Top Bar stage and Meth Breth (a kick-ass rock band from Durban made up of ex City Bowl Mizers members) at the Bruilof stage.
Next, I enjoyed a little bit of the Lunatic Wolf set before heading off to the Skellum stage for The Foolish Braves (a musical collaboration featuring Jamie from Naming James and Jay Bones from Fuzigish and the Rambling Bones) and then it was time for one of the best acts that I saw at the festival: Black Math. I seriously can’t believe that I only discovered this band now. I really hope that this Durban based rock band play more gigs in Gauteng in the near future.
I watched the last bit of Crystal Park at the Bruilof stage, skipped most of the Twin Atlantic set and enjoyed Guy Collins at the Skellum stage before taking a breather at the campsite. Before we knew it, the sun was setting and it was time for Johnny Clegg on the Main Stage. A huge crowd gathered, flags were waving and the crowd were singing along to classic tracks like “Spirit of the Great Heart”, “The Crossing” and “Scatterlings of Africa” in no time. Everyone got a little teary eyed when he started singing “Asimbonanga” (a song dedicated to former SA president Nelson Mandela).
Next up was Karen Zoid on the James Phillips stage. This queen of SA rock did not disappoint, playing many songs from her early years like “Afrikaners in Plesierig” and a few tracks off her new album. The next two hours my time was divided between Shortstraw (who got up to their usual antics on the Main stage), Albert Frost & Toya Delazy (who impressed me with something different on the Skellum stage) and Matthew Mole (who had the crowd singing along to his songs in no time).
Brand New was up next and they rocked the fuck out on the main stage, but I have to admit that it wasn’t really my cup of tea, so I got my African groove on with Hot Water on the Bruilof stage, before heading off to Francois van Coke’s set on the James Phillips stage. From the get-go the 15,000+ strong crowd were singing along to his songs and combined with the choir performance during “Skyn Heilig” and his collaborations with Karen Zoid and Laudo Liebenberg (from aKING) this was definitely one of the highlights of Oppikoppi 2015.
Gogol Bordello made their way onto the Main stage just after 11 PM and quickly set aside any suspicions that some festival goers had about them being a second grade international headliner. They completely blew the Oppikoppi crowd away, tens of mini dancing / jumping circles were forming all over the place, flags were waving and a great time was had by all who attended their show. I really hope they decide to come back to SA again some day.
After this it was off to the Top Bar for some Albert Frost & Robin Auld and party tunes (thanks to DJ Bob). I crawled into my tent around 3:30 AM. We were up bright and early, avoided the traffic jams and arrived safely back in Pretoria around 9 AM.
Oppikoppi 2015 was definitely one of my favorite Koppis so far. Everything ran smoothly. There were no issues with the card system, the queues at the food stalls and toilets were not unbearable and the vibe was amazing. Kudos to everyone at Hilltop Live for pulling off one hell of a festival. I’ll definitely be seeing you in 2016 for my 18th Oppikoppi.
Watch this space for regular updates in the Music and Photography category on Running Wolf’s Rant.