In Review: Oppikoppi 2017

About a week ago I made my annual pilgrimage to the infamous farm outside Northam in the Limpopo province to attend Oppikoppi 2017. It was the 19th time that I’ve my way to this festival and I was amped to get another under my 40-year-old belt.

We left Pretoria early on Thursday morning and pulled into Northam’s main shopping centre around 9 AM. After some quick supply shopping and an ice-hunting expedition (which led us to Shoprite Liquor, Game Liquor, Game and Liquor City) we finally arrived on the farm around 10:30 AM.

Finding a campsite in Mordor and pitching our tents did not take too long and before you could say “Piet Botha Drinks Black Label” we were having our first cold ones for the weekend. (Actually I’m lying – we were drinking beer while we were pitching our tents).

It was overcast and it looked like it might rain, but we weren’t concerned – we followed the first rule of Oppikoppi: “Pitch your tent and set up your sleeping spot the minute you have a campsite, that you have a place where you can pass out if you need to.” Pitching your tent in the dark at Oppikoppi sucks. (I’ve learned this from a previous experience).

Thursday turned out to be quite an eventful day. I caught performances by Van PletzenThe Black Cat Bones, MouseFuzigish, Riaan Nieuwenhuis, Cadillac Sun, Medicine Boy, The TazersHellcats and Slashdogs.

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I have to say that the highlight of the day has to be Hellcats (who played on the James Phillips stage for the first time). They ripped the music-loving faithful a new one with their no-nonsense rock ‘n roll. They rocked so hard, their drummer actually broke the kick-drum during their set. The fact they were joined by Shane from Pestroy was just the cherry on top of the cake that was their set.

PS: I have to give a special mention to Mouse who surprised me again with a brilliant set. I really hope these okes play a gig in Pretoria soon.

I had a bad case of first-night-festival-syndrome and ended up partying in the Top Bar till 4:30 AM. It was fun hearing the birds chirping as I crawled into my tent around 5 AM.

PS: Thanks to the bartenders for playing some lekker rock ‘n roll tunes. It was just what the doctor ordered.

Friday I was up quite early and nursing my hangover with some much needed pain pills and water from the hydration station. After a hearty breakfast (thanks to the Panini peeps) I basically took the day pretty easy, catching a few acts here and there and inhaling the dust-free festival vibe.

I managed to catch performances by Mafikizolo, Francois Van Coke, The Naked and Famous, Doc Maclean, The Ceramics, Yo Grapes, Sol Gems and Ruff Majik on Friday.

The highlight of the day was definitely Francois Van Coke and his band Die Gevaar. He pulled a massive crowd at the main stage and it was not long before the crowd was singing along to almost every single song. His cover of “Fight For Your Right To Party” (The Beastie Boys song) was a great addition to his set.

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I have to give a special mention to Pretoria rock band Ruff Majik. These okes impressed me with a brilliant set yet again. I have to admit that I did enjoy The Naked and Famous’ set in the rain, but I have never really been a fan. Sadly I missed Die Heuwels Fantasties and Two Door Cinema Club (thanks to my bad case of first-night-festival-syndrome) and I was in bed before 12.

I might be getting older, but there’s nothing wrong with my hearing. It was fun listening to them from the campsite and falling asleep with raindrops dripping onto my tent.

Saturday started bright and early with some champagne and a few beers in the campsite (thanks to Baas De Beer turning a year older). I took the day easy, caught a few acts here and there and explored Mordor a bit. The rained stayed away and it was fun walking around in the sun.

I caught some comedy from John Vlismas and Deep Fried Man and watched performances by Rubber Duc, Oh Calamity, Albert Frost, Black Coffee, Deon Bakkes & The Stolen Horses, Van Der Want & Letcher, Flume and Martin Rocka & The Sick Shop.

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The highlight of the day has to  Deon Bakkes & The Stolen Horses who got the party started at the Top Bar. I saw these peeps walking around Mordor the previous day and playing some of their tunes. Their set was one of the most vibey ones I’ve experienced at the Top Bar in years.

I don’t want to sound blunt, but I was not impressed with Flume’s set at all. I guess that he’s good in his genre, but it was not my cup of tea. Being reminded that I was in Johannesburg didn’t really sweeten the deal either. It’s not hard to say “Oppikoppi” on a stage you know #JustSaying.

It was the first time that I had a step-counter on my smartphone and it turns out that I walked a total of 45.2 km the whole weekend. Who says that going to a music festival isn’t great exercise?

Oppikoppi 2017 was a well-organized event and the rain was a welcome relief from the normally dusty atmosphere. Service at the bars was quick, the cashless card system worked quickly, the toilets were clean and the vibe was lekker. There was also a lot less crime than last year.

Thanks to everyone who made this weekend special. Thanks to my Baas and Gugu (my traveling companions) and thanks to Kyle, Charlie, Poena, Wiehan, Tanya 1, Tanya 2, Liezl, Jaxxy & Louis for being great camp mates. I would also like to thank Riaan Niewenhuis, The Tazers, Cadillac Sun and Hellcats for the interviews. You all rock!

Kudos to the organizers for doing a brilliant job at improving security and tweaking things here and there to make it a pleasurable experience. See you all again in 2018 for my 20th Oppikoppi Festival.

Watch this space for regular updates in the Opinion and Music categories on Running Wolf’s Rant.

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Henno Kruger

Blogger, Desktop Activist, Twitter / Facebook Addict, Music Festival Addict, Avid lover of South African music, Founder and owner of Running Wolf's Rant

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