This year I attended my 11th Oppikoppi Festival (Counting Easter Festivals). The festival turned 15 this year, so there was no way that I could ignore Oppikoppi this year. Oppikoppi 2009 Smoorverlief was the first Oppikoppi main festival I’ve attended since 2007 (when Violent Femmes, Jimmy Eat World and Groove Armada were part of the line-up). I arrived at the festival on Friday night (7th August) at about 11 pm and managed to find a camping spot (quite a distance from the stage area entrance) after driving around for about 15 minutes. All the camping spots alongside the “streets” close to the stage area entrance were already taken and the festival was in full swing. After setting up camp I managed to catch a glimpse of Bed on Bricks starting their set on the main stage, then proceeded to have beer in the bar by the stage area, then decided to check how the vibe at the bar on the “koppie” was. We ended up having a good time and only climbed into bed about 4:30 AM after searching for tent in the dark for an hour an a half (another old Oppikoppi tradition).
I awoke with a new burst of energy on Saturday morning, ready to tackle the day (after only 4 hours sleep). I then proceeded to find the friends I could not find on Friday night and met up with them. After having lunch under the trees (compliments of the burger food stall), I made my way to the bar by the stage and ended up having beer in the shade and listening to Andra playing in the background. This turned into long trips to the camp and back to refill alcohol at the tent and frequent trips to the bar for cold beer or ice. At about 4:30 pm I made my way to the Levi’s Bushveld Originals Stage where I watched Van Coke Cartel and Gerald Clark perform an excellent acoustic set. Directly after this, everyone (and I mean almost everyone at the festival) made their way to the main stage to catch Oppikoppi legend Koos Kombuis’ performance. This truly was one of the best Koos Kombuis performances I have ever seen to date (for the record, I have seen him live about 15 times).
It was a lot of fun singing along to songs like Lisa se Klavier and Johnny is nie dood nie, especially because almost everyone in watching was singing along. After another hour or 2 of beer drinking and a trip back to the campsite to fetch a jacket for the cold I made a return trip to the Levi’s Bushveld Originals Stage to watch a performance by Riku Latti and Albert Frost. It was good to see a Riku Latti performance at Oppikoppi for the first time in 5 years. In my opinion he definately is one of the best Afrikaans song writers. Albert Frost’s contribution to this set was also impressive. Most of the festival crowd then headed off towards the main stage to watch Karen Zoid’s performance. She did not disappoint, and most of the huge crowd in front the stage during her performance will agree.
After another trip to the tent I made my way towards the James Philips stage to catch the last bit of Foto na Dans. I must admit that I’m not a huge fan of them, probably because I don’t know their music that well. After this me and one of my friends made our way to the front of the main stage to watch aKING perform. And they definately did not disappoint, hearing the whole crowd sing along to Safe as Houses was definately one of the highlights of Oppikoppi 2009 Smoorverlief. After another around round at the “Koppie” bar, I sneaked into the tent at about 2 AM for some well deserved reboot time.
I awoke at about 9 AM on Sunday, feeling a little dusty, but still with energy. After having breakfast at our camp site we realized that we should probably change the flat tyre on our vehicle if we had any hope of returning back to our humble city abode on Monday. This proved to be a little time consuming. After paying someone a beer to find out which way to turn the bolts on the tyre so they’ll loosen, asking for help from a fellow festival goer to loosen the nuts so we can change tyre, borrowing a portable tyre pump from another festival goer and a trip to nearby Swartklip to properly pump the spare tyre we were back at the festival and in time to watch Josie Field perform at the Levi’s Bushveld Originals Stage. To me, Josie Field has definately grown as an artist in the last few years and I’m sure that we’ll see bigger things from her in the future.
After the show I made my way to the bar in the stage area again for a sundowner or 2, the sounds of Africa Acoustic (featuring Vusi Mahlasela, Dobet Gnahorè & Habib Koitè) providing the background music, putting all in the stage area into quite a mellow mood. After gathering some strength I then proceeded to watch Twee Nelle, ‘n Bottel en ‘n Barnard (featuring Bachus Nel and Gert Vlok Nel). The set was very mellow and complimented the setting sun in the background. I also made my way to catch a little bit of the Tidal Waves on the James Philips stage before heading off to the camp site for re-supply and a jacket to protect my skin against the evening cold. After listening to Dirty Skirts with one ear and Kidofdoom with another and an hour recovery time at the camp site (the reason for missing Zebra and Giraffe), the festival progression moved towards the James Philips stage to watch Die Heuwels Fantasties. I thought they were absolutely brilliant. In my opinion, this could be the start of a brand new genre in Afrikaans music.
After heading to the bar in the stage area for a beer refill we made our way to the main stage to watch The Parlotones. I’ve seen them live a few times at a Oppikoppi but this definately was their best show at the festival to date. They practically attracted the whole festival’s attention and had fans singing songs like Colourful, Lisa se Klavier and Giant Mistake out loud which made their performance very memorable and energetic. After another hour of chit chat in front of the main stage to ensure a place for the final act of the night at the main stage, Oppikoppi festival goers were spoiled with a very loud, energetic performance by Afrikaans rockers, Fokofpolisiekar. To me, this was definately one of the best performances of the festival. Hearing the crowd chant every single word of their songs in almost choir-like fashion really made day. After failing to find my friends at the “Koppie” bar, I headed off to the camp site and crawled into my tent at about 1:30 AM.
We left the camp site for Gauteng at about noon on Monday, feeling all sweaty from the heat and with dust in all the wrong places, but fully satisfied with an excellent festival. Well done to Oppikoppi Productions for organizing such a brilliant event. Thanks to all the bartenders for providing us with cold beers, shots and other drinks. Thanks to all the bands and artists for blessing us with such brilliant and memorable performances. Thanks to the +/- 15,000 festival goers for making this festival a very memorable one. I might be getting old, but I don’t think I’ll ever outgrow Oppikoppi. I might be speaking under correction, but I think “See you next year!” is in order.
Here are some photos from Oppikoppi 2009 Smoorverlief, courtesy of your’s truly:
Oppikoppi – Official Website
Speakerbox – More Oppikoppi Videos and Photos
Oppikoppi – Wikipedia
Festival sets bush alight – Mail & Guardian
SA Music – Site dedicated to South African Music
Musical Mover & Shaker – South African Music Blog