Oppikoppi: the sweetest thing


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Oppikoppi has evolved quite a bit since my first dusty musical quest in the late nineties, but the fundamentals are still all there.

It may have happened a while ago, but since my last recorded attendance was 05’s Wired, the evolution was suddenly very noticeable. The iPhone App was spectacular and very useful…until my battery died, and the electronic sign-boarding was always in the right place, at the right time.

But as with all great and on-going things, there is always a measure of nostalgia. Luckily, there are also always a couple of classics to put paid to any yearning.

The classics:

I have a thing for words, so starting one day with a Buckfever Underground non-song and ending another on a sunset high with Gert Vlok Nel‘s long songs is something else.

Overheard at Oppikoppi: “He’s a veteran, dawg…”

Even better, he shared the stage with my long time crush, Albert Frost.

I’ve arrived / It’s started / It’s on:

There’s a definitive moment at the Koppie, it’s different for everyone but happens for all. It’s quick and painless.

It’s the moment you stumble upon unexpected genius: the band you didn’t plan on seeing but are so grateful you did. Thanks for that Oppikoppi, thanks a lot for The Brother moves On.

The gotta-get-ahead band:

Then there’s the band that’s playing such great music that you just need to push through the masses to get upfront and central. That band for me this year was the French collective, Babylon Circus. They play the accordion, they wear double-breasted suits and all 12 of them look very, very good.

The Durbs based Fruits & Veggies was also a surprise hit and it must be said the front-woman, Purity Zinthle does an impressive mid-tune ninja kick.

The Oppikouch:

There is no such thing as going too far at Oppikoppi and carting your kouch around is not only expected, it’s a highly-approved of, envy-engendering, respek!-earning activity.

Besides, nothing feels like work with a drink in hand and the promise of much more around the crowded bend.

And, it is very crowded, with 20 000 people stumbling about from gig to gig even a rural farm starts feeling a little urban. But, if you’re like me and you feel you need to make a quick get-away, there’s always Die Klein Bar.
Squatting on top of the Koppie, it’s the original (and best) venue, and provides an excellent dusky view of the rag-tag Mordor spread.


Aside from regular dust-dampening water spraying vehicles, there is not a lot of water on the farm, and hardly any showers at the Koppie. In fact the “Laws for Unlaws” advocate the use of wet wipes: “you’ll find them surprisingly efficient to handle 3 days. You will survive…”

So, the ubiquitous wearing of gumboots is a bit of a mystery and the only explanation for their extensive adoption, is I believe, to bring colour to the Koppie.

Koppie coping mechanisms, as observed:

– Dress to get attention, that way if you pass out in the bushes, you’re still easy to spot. Also, people will point at you, smile and nod and that way you can feel famous too.
– Wear a custom made moon bag so you can carry everything on you and only ever go back to the campsite to sleep. If necessary.

– Build a bespoke booze carrying container. It must be plastic so you can get it through security, and it must be big, so you don’t have to head back to camp to fill up on juice. There are plenty of bars around, but the queues demand concentration and fortitude, therefore having something to sip while you wait makes sense.

– There is not much to say on the subject of blow-up mattresses except for
find an alternative. They are temperamental and will always disappoint
in thorny environs.

Idols spotted at Oppikoppi:

Freddie Van’Dango carrying his guitar and amp en route to a dusky gig at Die Klein Bar.
Noted: he fits right in at Oppikoppi where everyone puts a lot of effort into dressing up, only to get down and dirty.
Dave Van Vuuren – who’s hooked up with the Southern Gypsy Queens – stomping across the band campsite in his skinny jeans.
Noted: a fleeting concern that he might be accosted by the Society Against Guys Wearing Skinny Jeans (also spotted at Oppikoppi).

The Graeme Watkins Project:
Actually heard but not seen what sounded like an energetic, well applauded performance from the main / James Phillips stage.
Pixie Bennett:
Between events and looking for the next best thing at Oppikoppi. Noted: she looks super-hot as a red head, she’s working on a new album and she’s still as fabulous as she was as an Idols top tenner in 2009.

*Idols is happening again, catch the Top 9 results show on Tuesday at 19:30 on M-Net, M-Net HD and Mzanzi Magic.

Yah, Oppikoppi is not easy. There’s dust-a-plenty and the certainty of a mind-bending hang-over. But where else would you encounter a buff man wearing nothing but a neon pink, high cut swimming costume.
Oh and, three solid days of assorted, awesome tunes.

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