In Dust We Trust | Part 3by Max Barashenkov / 17.08.2012
The Final One Where I Ditch My Girl For Bullet
They stick the camera right in her face, these Google+ goons, demanding, “Are you Loopy from Fruits & Veggies? Do you know that you broke into our campsite last night, singing, and stole a bottle of booze? Are you going to apologize?”
Loopy, the poster-girl for debauchery and punk rock excess, looks at me in disbelief, turns to the online Inquisition, let’s out a deranged laugh and responds, “No, I don’t remember that and fuck you, Google, I’m not apologizing! One bottle of liquor? You bastards have so much money and you come after me for that? Fuck, if I’d have know that it was a Google campsite, I would have jacked more shit.”
At that the Google police slink away, muttering threats of ‘this being on the internet’, and we whistle and curse their corporate hides, wondering if it was simple stupidity or the faux-balls of having the search-engine giant at their backs that prompted them to even hope for an apology. It’s Oppikoppi, fools, anything goes (this article in no way condones theft, except when it’s from multi-billion dollar corporations!)
Oppi functions, in many ways, as a temporary parallel dimension, one that is similar to ours but where the laws of physics and etiquette are bent backwards. You can drink more at Oppi, you can degenerate to animal form, you can fuck like a scumbag in the dust, raking your and her ass with thorns, all without judgment or condemnation. Normality is suspended, decency outlawed and livers simply don’t exist. Only at Oppikoppi can you throw whatever rubbish you want on the ground wherever you please. In fact, such behavior is encouraged, turning into an unspoken competition between the thousands of campsites, each trying to out-do the others with the number of bottles, cigarette boxes and stale wors they leave behind. Corpses of a festival. Signifiers of a time well spent. The more junk, the harder the party.
Take an early morning stroll through Mordor, keep your eyes and snout on the ground, and a plethora of wild tales emerge from the trash, just use a bit of imagination and a healthy dose of forensic expertise. Ah, a pair of stoner citrus fiends stopped here – the small patch of dust littered with orange rinds and nipped spliffs. You can tell that one was more adept at peeling the fruit than the other, or perhaps a little more sober, and that after their feast, one of them vomited and both of them stumbled onwards, towards the entertainment area. A couple fucked here, under the squat tree. The guy was beyond wasted, judging from the number of condoms he had to go through before finally getting one on. Their sex was good, you just know, because the lower branches of the tree are all broken up, twisted by her in ecstasy. Stranger nights emerge the longer you spend looking: from five empty jars of mayonnaise near a white Toyota (what kind of sick bastard stays here and what was he doing with all the mayo?) to a debris field of whole blocks of cheese, barely nibbled, gritty and dusty, thrown away without care – there must be over R200 worth of Gouda just lying there, melting in the sun. Who are all these people, these vandals and hooligans, these beautiful creatures? Walking around, examining the remains of their orgies, you want to know them all, but, of course, you can’t, you have to go and watch bands, do your ‘duty’, stroke the egos of prima donna musicians and don’t you dare write anything bad, they get very upset. An ass once licked, is petrified of sandpaper.
Peachy Keen are up first on the James Phillips stage, effortlessly kicking in the gears with their polished rockabilly-pop. They are a pleasure to watch – lighthearted and sassy, tight and cheeky. Dom and Lex have grown into their frontwoman roles, strutting about with confidence, shooting winks and oozing sex. The Peaches are a small club band, but that morning nothing in their performance hints at that – they own the stage and kick the shit out of a ‘King Of The Swingers’ cover and I struggle to find a bad word to say about them.
My search for profanity doesn’t last long because The Stellas take the stage next, a perfect example of energy and passion being sacrificed to style. More of that sweet limp rock with a pretense at having an edge. “This one is called ‘Danger’!” the vocalist shouts and they drop a track that is tamer than a freshly fed hamster. Perhaps it was meant to be ‘ominous’ or ‘slightly cautious’? They seem to have sound issues, but handle them as a 30 year-old virgin would his first time with a toothless hooker. Rock ‘n roll? Ha, don’t make me laugh. Go back to kindergarten, maybe do some harder drugs, live on the streets for a bit, then come back and swagger around.
Yet however pathetic The Stellas are, they are eclipsed by the next abomination. Black Handed Kites. Jesus Fucking Scarecrow, who let the lepers out? Folk music comes from the heart, not shitty clothes and your daddy’s money. Didn’t you use to be in New Holland? Singing about Range Rovers? Clever boy you are, smelling that Indie is out and Folk is in. You’ll go far, no doubt, though you only manage to pull about 150 people today, all of whom are sitting down, dozing off. I marvel at their ability to turn the banjo, perhaps one of the most exciting instruments in the guitar family, into a tool of boredom. They don’t waterboard at Guantanamo anymore, they play the terrorists Black Handed Kites and the suckers crack in under a minute.
Thank god for the first two international acts, Eagles Of Death Metal and Enter Shikari. Now there is something to look at. Watch and learn, ye pop-rock-folk wankers, that is how you put on a show. Eagles jam their sleaze rock with hillbilly fervor, Jesse working the crowd like a true hustler. Everyone is dancing and moving, even those (like myself) that only know that one Cherry Cola song. “What a gang of rock ‘n roll cannibals we have here tonight,” Jesse grins and we, almost 20 thousand of us, respond with an approving roar and begin devouring the sensual fuzz of their guitars, the clockwork drumming and the dick-in-hand vocals. Enter Shikari, playing next, take stage presence to the next level, completely annihilating Wesley’s Dome with their electro-flavoured hardcore. Guitars thrown way up the air, climbing on the stage scaffoldings and swinging like possums on crack, kicking microphone stands like they were bad habits, it’s more of a riot than a show. We all groove to that rolling bounce of their breakdowns, each one fatter and heavier than the previous. They might not be The Chariot or Converge, but hoping and judging from the ecstatic crowd response, they real heavy will one day come to our shores. The fields are ploughed and ready.
Of course not all is well in the international act kingdom. Seether, labeled by some as ‘home-town heroes’ are droll, apathetic and just plain shit. Zero energy, zero delivery. Even their hit single, ‘This Is How You Remind…’ (no wait, that’s Nickelback, same shit really), fails to get more exciting than a funeral procession. I refuse to watch them further and, just to get into the right emotional space, break up with my girlfriend just before Bullet For My Valentine begin slamming out their attempts at metal. And true, her tears didn’t fall, they crashed around me, but the band didn’t get any better. Oh how I wish that Hilltop Live would have switched the pairs around, letting the commercial retards go first and saving the Eagles and Shikari as the crown jewels of Oppikoppi 2012.
I drive away the next morning in my usual state of confusion, lacking any kind of focal point to the whole Oppi affair and then, somewhere just past the cursed Carletonville, my thoughts turn to Donny Truter and his band, Taleswapper (completed by members of Mr. Cat And The Jackal and playing their Thursday morning slot without drums due to a back-line fuck up). When I watched them, I wasn’t overly impressed despite their haunting sound and heartfelt lyrics. Then, I just couldn’t shake the idea of them being privileged kids playing the working-man’s blues, but as I drove and thought, the more I understood. Donny, just like the near 20 thousand people that made their pilgrimage to Oppi this year, is searching for some kind truth, a truth that is initially hidden from him by his comfortable birthright, a truth that is, perhaps, not even there. He finds his in drink and hoarse songs about miners, I in dirt and filth. Only once stooped to the lowest of lows, can you begin to appreciate what it really is to be human and alive. In dust, we all, in someway, trust.
*All images © Jacques Greyling, Kevin Goss-Ross, Tyrone Bradley / Red Bull