I attended my first Oppikoppi this August, well; it was my very first music festival ever. I’m not comfortable in crowds and usually my friends struggle to get me out to a bar, the thought of 16 000 enthusiasts scared me witless. So much so that on Friday when everyone really started arriving, I didn’t want to leave our campsite at all. I ventured into the stage grounds on Saturday out of necessity; it’s where they kept the food. We didn’t have a good night’s sleep, I was moody and emotional. I clung to Willem’s arm and stared at the ground as we negotiated our way through hundreds of bodies. I was starting to regret the entire trip. We had to find a place to eat and I was feeling neurotic, maybe it was this tingle of panic that drove me up the koppie (large hill, or small mountain in English) in search of an isolated spot.
From here the entire festival looked different. I had risen above the dust cloud and saw the beauty of it all. Suddenly it didn’t feel so intimidating or threatening, it felt…like an unknown brother. The designer who came up with the concept for this year’s festival is a genius. It captured the entire spirit of the event.
So I started to explore with more confidence. And right behind me at the Red Bull stage on the other side of the koppie I found something that changed my life. I have never been a fan of electronic music, and ignored the entire genre. However, we decided to hang out at the electro stage, since it wasn’t as busy as the other stages and I was still finding my feet. Then Sibot took the stage and this happened:
I was hypnotized. The bodies in the audience became slaves to the music and moved in ways I’ve never seen before, they were fascinating! I walked away 4 hours later an evangelical electro convert; I couldn’t shut up about what I had experienced. I woke friends up to tell them all about it, I used every adjective imaginable. I started to look around at the people around me. They were freaks, absolutely, colourful insane hippies and extroverts who were not only endlessly amusing but incredibly sincere.
So I started taking photos, joining in and making conversation and before I knew it I was in the middle of a sea of people enjoying and loving the bands along with the beautiful lunatics. The best show I watched was Lark, an alternative South African band. I fell in love with the vocalist, Inge Beckman, a gorgeous woman with an epic voice. The worst show was Die Antwoord, creepy…and I’m sure they were very very high, too high to perform. The acts I regret missing most are Mr Cat and The Jackal (who apparently performed with huge puppets) and Double Adapter (another electro stage act that no one could stop talking about). I missed the main international act (Sum41) as well, but I don’t regret that at all; I was at Yesterday’s Pupil, an excellent local DJ.
Next to the main stage the clever designers put up some quotes on a huge banner, one of which was this extract by Yeats:
“The Seventeenth Coming”
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The dust-dimmed cloud is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned,
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity
But they try, Oh yes sir they do.
– Unknown, B. Yeats, 1920
So I ended up literally having the time of my life. It was something like Woodstock in Mad Max land. It’s dirty and dry, too hot during the day and too cold at night, filled with drunks and drugs, fuelled on laughter and love, and I can’t wait until next year.