Thursday, August 14, 2008

oppi koppi oh oh eight

Dust, dassies and dirty musicians

Dear darling dassies and elephants and rockers and sycophants and... Well, you know who you are…

Yissis! But we’re brilliant when we’re in the Highveld. We drove up in droves, set up camp under thorn trees, and hardly slept. That’s the royal we, mind you – Mordor, music and media citizens alike. We washed under taps (well, almost) or didn’t wash at all, got trashed, littered like good, middle-class majority whites, soaked ourselves in sound and sun, and sang together. The best one- liner I heard has got to be the most ubiquitous, too –



(And that includes ‘we like your ass’ from a band I like. Is it because I’m black?)

En route to Oppi

The magic started in the car on the way. My mate Bastion doesn’t like his beauty sleep, and spent the night before the trek mixing mix tapes for the drive from Jozi to dassieville. We were listening to a Dylan classic that Georgia governor, Jimmy Carter, ostensibly based his knowledge of agricultural labour theory and reform on(It sounded like Johnny Cash on a happy day). Exactly as we were harmonizing the chorus lines about brothers and sisters and hardworking misters, we drove past the song’s namesake. I kid you not. Maggie’s Farm. That was us, whistling out the window at the high speed of forty kilometers per hour in the Oppi koppi Q, criss-crossing freeways out of Joburg in an attempt to get there faster. It failed, of course, but we did overtake the same people seven times!. How did we know they were dassies too? There’s something about pillows and overlywrapped packet packages and joints squashed up against windows pressed with too many people and their interesting hairstyles that’s such a giveaway on the not-so-open, still-pretty-urban road. Thing is, we were wondering about that not-to-scale map, and the fact that Jozi never seems to end! (well, it IS six thousand square kilometers, after all. And if that daunts you, console yourself with the fact that it’s also a veritable garden, what with its green belt being one of the biggest in an urban setting in the world. Not that it’s so green this time of year.) Anyway, that was when Oppi bit. Big time.

And it was my first time. Also I’m impressionable. AND I’m a band whore according to cokeheads. Why, then, do I only give it seven out of ten? The line-up was wicked and the showers were warm (at 7 am, they were; ask Shower Boy!) I’ll tell you why. Because I’ve rocked the socks off the Daisies in the Kouebokkeveld (with a vaguely adequate line-up) and even fell in love there, and I’ve showered naked with boys and girls together at Bombomella (Israel, the unholy land) and even fell on my face there, and both fests involved preplanning so exact that the carbon footprint was covered before it was even made, and the pumpkin plants were flowering all over the stalls when the fans arrived. Respectively. A great festival takes care of all angles – production, music, its party animals, and the poephols. Luckily Oppi had few of the latter, but it lacked a lot when it came to wires and tummy wares.

It seemed a fest of howyousay, niche niceties. The media tent was utterly wicked, facilitating a relaxed, professional space for media and musicians to meet and greet, talk shop, talk shit, and get the shot and then have some shots (free bar; essential). Only a few halfwit beginner ‘critics’ abused the good intentions of the Levi’s Original Music Magazine slash 24 dot com slash Speakerbox team, and were duly told where to put their pouting, potty mouths and misplaced, malignant intentions. Amen to gentle men. Silver bullets belong in barrels.

The media area was also the spot from which UJFM became the early morning wake-up call to those who weren’t already woken by the freezing cold, neighbouring beats, or caterwauling cretins who refused to put the night before to bed. I wasn’t impressed by the DJs, their half-baked play lists (hello? This is SA, 2008, not somewhere first world, 1999) or their cheery promptitude (well, we’ll make it a word, just for today), but I was delighted that there was constant commentary around the whole fest that made for a family vibe. Guess they were right about what you can and can’t choose...

That choice thing again became an issue (sigh. We have such issues with it here, have you noticed? First not enough of us had it, now all of us have it and we don’t know what to do with it so we let bigshots tell us what to do with carrots and showers instead while they don't fix the power crisis, and we use condoms to carry water…) The line-up was wicked, I thought. Representative enough to please people whose tastes stretch beyond the borders of rock, but selective enough to choose more or less decent acts within the most popular genre bracket. i wished bands like The Sleepers and our soon to be overseas Josh Grierson were included for kudos. The band wish list voted by you (which, btw, it turns out the original winner declined to be part of because what they offered him and his peeps to play wouldn’t have covered their travel costs there and back) was lame. It sounded like noise, from start to finish. Oh, I lie; Jurgemeister was almost decent, belting out hardhat heaviness that broke the Thursday ice. But Friday and Saturday made up for it with so much choice, a wise music lover was hard-pressed to decide. I focused on bands I hadn’t seen, bands I love and must always see, and getting enough sleep to write about the bands my editor thought I should see (he was, for the most part, right, but I will never forgive him for making me miss out on hotstix). Reviews on levis here:

Overall (levis version)

Dave Ferguson

foto na dans


kwani experience

zebra & giraffe

josie field

fire through the window

As you can see, I wasn’t bowled over by everyone, but that’s more or less the way it goes, isn’t it? If we all liked the same stuff, we wouldn’t go to music festivals, would we? Or would we?

And was it my imagination or were audiences quiet? No, wait, for the purposes of watookal, let’s use a diplomatic word like… meditative… or contemplative… or idunno, introspective. (diplomacy is my new hobby, and I’m bad at hobbies) Oppi is not the time for introspection, I promise you! Even the former drummer of a famous up-and-coming act and the former lover of the same act were wise enough not to dwell on things too much during the dusty daze. Days. Daze. And no, I’m not going to tell you who they are. I’m not in it for the story, you realize? (that one’s for you, Mr 13 :31) Perhaps we’re still getting used to the idea of freedom of expression, and it takes more than a day or two of liquor and sun and ice to crack our lekker, lacquered shells? There’s hope yet, to be sure, but it feels like the music (re)public is a little intimidated? Come on guys, they’re doing this for you!


Most spectacular Kidofdoom

Most anticipated foto na dans

Most rewarding josie field (for musical growth)

Most surprising new academics (finally a band to dance to, and break your shoes instead of your neck)

Most rock & roll taxi violence

Most refreshing voodoo child

Most underrated HoneyB (our favourite black, mid-tempo House DJ!)

Most kak idontknow, I don’t wager over the contenders, I just block my ears.

Speaking of wagers, I won my first game of poker ever with a lot of help from my friends (well, back then before Saigon's 'calamari' and duck curry poisoning I still thought I had some), and while everyone covered sharp teeth with sweetly smiling lips and said nice things like beginners luck (you know, like it's charity or something), I realized that gambling and intuition have a lot in common. As do acting and winning! I went shopping with the cash. Of course. I mean, what else do those of my ilk do – work? As if. A baby blue dress for an open blind. Not bad for an Oppi virgin!

Besides the juicy stories fed me by the rotten social grapevine that is skinder and kakpraat, there were a lot of GOOD one-liners and stories, and some were captured here :

(you’ll recognize yours truly even if you haven’t had the pleasure…)

oh! and honourable mention to the most fascinating stranger (who also packs a wicked punch in her interviews, and gets renowned egomaniacs to actually SAY the bullshit they believe about their band's music)

Michelle Marais, SA Tunes

Sound is important, and it’s not easy to get right at a fest because of tight schedules and high band turnovers. So you might’ve thought that after ten years, Oppi would’ve sorted that out, chosen the best sound guys they could afford, and had enough technicians on hand to fix faults. They didn’t, at the smaller stages. Repeatedly. I’m not informed enough to know whose fault it is, but as I’ve heard most of the acts I saw in various other venues before, I know that it was either the sound guys or the sound systems. And that is simply not good enough. Luckily the big stage was packed with enough power to blow up a small town, and put its energy to good use for acts like Taxing Violets, The two twos, Aching etc.

Food was kak. Crap. Horrible. Who eats fast food 24/7? Come on. Sort it out. And get more stalls, too.

The only reason I didn’t kill the loudmouths who played bad music at the break of dawn was that I was working, and so I was up before them. But know that you are the spawn of Satan’s spoof and next year I will hose you down with honey for the ants to come and eat to your bones.

While I’m ranting, here’s a brief list of What NOT to do at Oppi :

Ø Erect a tent on top of someone else’s unless of course you want them to move away, in which case it worked. If you arrive in the pitch dark and can’t see, have the human decency to feel about a bit with your hands; it’s probably the only time you’ll be allowed to, anyway.

Ø Take pictures of people butt naked if they happen to forget they’re in public while they’re changing on their doorstep. It’s illegal. For you, and them. Only they can sue you, and all you can get out of them is a little public embarrassment.

Ø Ask for drugs from your bosses, and your boss’s boss.

Ø Walk barefoot. Get on someone’s shoulders.

Ø Forget your sunscreen. It may not be as sexy as they make it out to be, but Oppi is HOT.

Absolute chaos is an oxymoron, and there were lots of those at the fest, though nobody was violent, and moon bags left in the middle of the road to seduce recovering thieves were ignored until their hung-over owners crawled back to them again. By day three (or is it four?) faces were grubby, eyes were bloodshot, and asthmatics were sick of wearing bibs around their noses and mouths just to be able to breathe. My heartfelt empathies; I’m glad that my snot is back to its normal disgusting colour. And speaking of mementos and memories, all I came back with were two t shirts and lots of lovely band buttons, all of which I’ll wear with pride. Of course, the Foto Na Dans EP “Pantomime Op Herwinbare Klanke” isn’t a memento, it’s a trophy. I got it at Oppi, ; you can get yours at Rhythm Records.


p.s. going away for a bit had the uncanny effect of making me see Cape Town with new, more appreciative eyes. (is that possible? Ok, yes, its winters SUCK) back in Jozi waiting for Kulula to wake up or go to sleep or whatever it is it needs to do before I can come and polish my tush on its faux leather, lime seats, I’m thinking, god, I couldn’t live here. I need reference points – something to remind me of forever (mountains, and the high, crystal skies), something to remind me of finity (the oceans, effectively drowning our sorrows and we like to think our carbon footprints (or is it the other way round?)). As the crime capital of various statistical analyses, it doesn’t seem like the wisest place in the world to let irritating realities like energy limits plunge whole roads into darkness, but truth hurts. This might be the most developed metropolis in Africa, and the business capital of SA, but it lacks a lot. I’m back to the Mother city, secure in the insight that we really have a blessed lifestyle. And the majority of good music, too!

Now, if we could just play nicely together in this little fishing village, it would be unbeatable. Having said that, this is the very last time I am going to mention the lowQ muso who has decided to tell nasty lies about me in some kind of stupid attempt to bolster his ego. Worst was that he spread his seed to bigmouths with small brains whose main job, it seems, is to encourage gratuitous rudeness and unfounded aggression (and that’s coming from a girl? Sies) I would like to remind him that he was once in exactly the same position as he has put me in now (scuse the pun), and I treated him with respect and sincerity. And btw, bru, AWOL means Absent Without Leave, and as far as I know, you don’t miss a beat? Well, you’re gonna miss me.

So! Been there, got the t-shirt, see you at Daisies!


  1. ahh the joys! Music, beer, sun, conflicting opinions! Despite its obvious drawbacks, The Koppi has a unique appeal all of its own!

  2. From my experience, it's actually the halfwit beginner critics that boast about free bars and how cool they are to get into the media tents. I'm just saying....

  3. Free bars in media sections help lubricate conversation with tongue-tied musicians, which invests in an ongoing dialogue between the public and the music. Tried and tested.

    My praise for the media initiative points out how cool the ORGANISERS are, in actual fact.