Oppikoppi means different things to different people. So we at Mahala got a whole bunch of musos and freaks to talk about how it went down for them at this year’s Smoorverlief Festival!
Kevin S. Flee, Death Valley Blues Band
(top 2 images courtesy Yusuf Laher © bluntmag.co.za)
“Too much is usually just enough. It sounds pretty rock n roll. That’s because it is.
In August 2009 Oppikoppi celebrated 15 years of hedonistic rampage and the finest truly alternative music that South Africa can offer. This is confirmed when my first friendly exchange is with a band called Gross Misconduct – not just a band name but an ethos it would seem.
I sailed through the first ticket check with ease– how far does this pink ticket go? The obvious homosexual references make me chuckle. Mr B looks in true festival spirits as usual. The collective memory of Friday evening seems to be a blur. The Kid was still a little shaky at 1pm, mumbling something under his breath.
It must be said that I was very glad to have an eastern European model on my arm. Every rock star should have one. Or two. Their long legs make it easy to navigate through the crowds, who seem to melt away like butter when she begins to stride.
Speaking of which, something has to be said for the erection of festival tents. True human social dynamic can be seen here. I wonder to myself if we are being watched by modern anthropologists.
There were 3 stages at the bottom of the hill this year, the dust new edition being dedicated to legendary local musician, Sipho Gumede. My intention was to try and catch as much music as possible. Highlights included Die Antwoord (who I have been told a lot about); Shadow Club (who I’ve seen in smokey bars but would love to see how they rocked the bigger stage); Architecture of Aggression (who have a bass player called Big Willy – ‘nuff said); The Uncut (always a good show and great vibes); The Mean Streets (once again would have loved to see how they rocked a bigger stage). I see none.
I’m wearing a kilt and I’m drinking tequila. KJF keeps flashing my ass to random people in the bar. I discover that some very straight men think about my penis – a lot. This does not make me particularly comfortable.
Once again the sun begins to set – the search for Zoltan begins. I decide to make a game for myself and not call him, but hunt him down on the festival grounds. Let the games begin! I meet an oriental guy with 6 eyes but don’t remember taking drugs… is this a “flashback”? Then a pretty polish princess tells me everything will be alright and then puts her breasts back in her dress. I’ve always loved Oppikoppi and now I’m starting to remember why.
There was a fair selection of food available; the usual suspects were in attendance, stir fry and pizza being the choice laid out for vegetarians. We eat pizza in an outdoor art gallery behind the Sipho Gumede Stage to the sound of some gnarly Canadian country tunes. The female vocal was particularly awesome – soulful and dark. I am reminded of the look in The Kid’s eye when he briefly mentioned feelings of fear during the Friday rampage.
I’ve always liked performing at festivals; the people watching the music are there for the music. I tell The Kid that playing on the “Twin” will change the way he walks. He looks doubtful – perhaps he likes the way that he walks.
By the time The Death Valley Blues Band hit the Most Amazing Myn Stage, the festival was in full swing. There was a blur of sherry, Red Bull and sweat. All I remember was smiling faces, pretty girls and the taste of electricity. There was magic in the cold bushveld air and it danced to our tune. People say they saw the Devil himself at Oppikoppi. I didn’t see him, but I sure did see some dusty Angels.
In conclusion, I plagiarize this from Oppikoppi’s do’s and dont’s: Things often don’t happen for a reason, but go with it. Or them.”
Zakes, Tidal Waves
“Man, Koppi was crazy this year, a lot a people me bredren! We went there on a Sunday but it was like a Saturday. On Tidal’s set the noise from all the original people was like bees passing by, then we rocked them, left, right and centre. I didn’t manage to see any other bands, I just went straight to the Levis Stage to check Jack Hammer, cos me, Albert Frost and Vusi Mahlasela were special guests. I had the most loveliest performance that made me a South African Jimmy Hendrix, I was scratching the guitar on a mic stand and people got freaked out. And all that I saw is those partying people with bruises on their legs and getting lost in the bush of fun. Yeah man. Peace. Aweh.”
Werner from Wrestlerish still dealing with the surreality of all those people singing along to songs he thought no one had heard.
Ozzie, Low Profile
“Playing Oppikoppi is a real eye opener from a musicians point of view. If you’re a seasoned touring dog accustomed to large stages, professional grade backlines, free refreshments and onstage sound technicians in direct contact with the main engineer on walky talkies, then you’ll breeze in and play an amazing set with absolutely everything catered for. If you’re a DIY club/bar kind of band like ours playing on a big stage for the first time, you’ll feel like Oliver Twist dining at Buckingham Palace. No less effort is given than described above, and the Oppi crew are there to help with everything from lugging guitars to probably dishing out full body massages if you asked them nicely (In my estimation anyway!).
The sound and lighting is second to none and the management and contracts are watertight, delivering on every promise, and then some.”
Rui Soeiro, bass player for 340ml & dub Selecta
“I wanted to play Oppikoppi this year so bad that even knowing that some band members wouldn’t be in town at the time, we decided to book it and perform anyway.
The plan was straight forward, drive to Maputo a couple of weeks before, meet with the extended 340ml family members, practice, perform a couple of shows and we would be tight for the Koppi, perfect.
With 3 days of practice, Pedro and myself joined forces with Bruno Staline (Tiago’s younger brother) and Mauro Chibanga (Paulo’s step-brother) aka Ras Makuluve from The Rocats, to perform at Coconuts (one of the most prestigious clubs in Maputo town) 10 days before the big event. As expected the show went well with some minor glitches but the crowd love it. For us it was more like a paid rehearsal with some serious feedback from hard-core fans and family.
Tuesday before Oppikoppi, we’re all in Jo’burg practicing and getting ready for some club gigs Wednesday and Friday… all good. Those “DUB SAVED MY LIFE” events are something special indeed.
As we are getting old, we prefer to pull an “in and out” stunt. In other words, long gone are the days we camped, arrive at 7pm; perform at 9.30pm drive back home after the performance… 340ml’s relationship with the Oppikoppi crew goes way back and 15 years of madness, I want to be part of it, even if it’s just for a couple of hours…
We arrived at the farm an hour before planned (we are getting better at this), and people’s feedback from Friday was interesting.
After a couple of interviews we decided to walk around and show the premises to Mauro, it was his first time at the Festival and we wanted to make him feel comfortable. On the way to our stage we checked Balthazar (I like them) and durbanites The Arrows doing the MC Hammer dance moves. That was awesome! I also like what The Greek Merchant is doing…
I call it DoppiKoopi, the old 206 stage, aka Sipho Gumede Stage, that’s the stage where we performed and that’s where I spend most of my hours at the festival.
Just in time for the last 3 tracks from Kwani Experience, nice. Radio Marrabenta (from Mozambique) was scheduled to perform before us and for some dodgy reason they were late, which gave us more time to set-up and sound-check, bonus.
Our performance at Oppikoppi was one of the best ever. The sound was amazing, the crowd was insane and what followed just blew me away, Teba’s live dub version of “Show Ur Love” just killed it, and those Mix N Blend boys are the kings of the gadgets, that’s for sure. You must check them live, please.
Just before we left there was some loud thunder coming from the Main Stage, Architects Of Aggression? I don’t know, but it was heavy. As the designated driver, it was painful to see the family enjoying two bottles of Vodka and some OJ but it was a blessing driving home with everybody sleeping like children. The little pleasures of life…
Weather, sound, crowd, Oppikoppi 2009 was the best ever, period.
Yesterday’s Pupil, he’s the guy behind the decks (pic by Lauren Gertie Karabo Antrobus)
“Here is what I remember:
Every story has a beginning, middle and an end but not necessarily in that order. I arrived on the Saturday and was welcomed by the beautifully complex melodic force that is Isochronous. Blasting from the main stage they formed the soundtrack to the beginning of my Oppikoppi experience. It was warm and people were drunk and dirty all around me and I knew I had to catch up as soon as possible. Fast forward a few hours. There are five men in full body spandex, brave, they look like they belong at the Olympics and perhaps in their minds that is exactly where they are. Mr. Sakatumi is playing a captivatingly rocking set as the sun sets and soon there after darkness was upon us! Darkness which appeared in the form of Termanatrix – They were sound scaping to an old vampire flick and it was awesome; it was like watching a horror band. They amazed me with their creative improvisations and musicianship and at times scared the crap out of me. Balthazar from Belgium was also a pleasure to watch – their live sound was warm and fat just like I like my steak!”
Brett Allen-White is a writer and musician from Cape Town. His band A B Turbo opened for Haste the Day on their South African tour.
“I’m not going to lie. There are a good few portions of the festival that I’m struggling to remember, part of this I blame on lack of sleep, part of this I blame on Pascal from the Plastics and his tequila (my personal kryptonite) tokens… but what I do remember, was glorious…
Mornings were spent meeting friends, drinking hang over cures, checking out the design exhibitions and eating these amazing toasted paninis… but you’re not reading this to hear about the food I’m sure, so I’ll continue…
Without sounding too biased towards my fellow Capetonians, the Plastics put on a great show on Saturday afternoon, building up a solid dance floor as the show progressed. Their following up North seems to be growing rapidly, and I think the people of Gauteng and KZN will be seeing a lot more of them very soon.
An interlude: the second evening of the festival saw us making a mission up the hill to the other stage, where I managed to make friends with the only ditch around, tearing the tissue and chipping the bone of my ankle. Oppikoppi has resulted in me wearing an ankle brace for three months with physiotherapy and possible surgery depending on recovery, and you know what? I don’t mind, it’s well worth it.
The Wrestlerish performance was one of my high lights, I just love their honest blend of alternative country, folk and pop. Rumour has it girls faint when Werner starts to sing, but I don’t remember, because I do too.
As a huge fan of the original Max Normal band, I made sure to watch Waddy Jones’ aka Ninjas new project, Die Antwoord. Choreographed dance moves and costume changes turned the rap rave show into quite the theatrical performance, and despite all being in stitches, we were all well impressed.
There are no words to describe Fokofpolisiekars performance, which closed the live music portion of the festival. Well, fine, there are… words like “madness” and “befok,”* and if you’ve seen them do a festival show, you’ll know what I’m talking about, if you haven’t, well, I think that the plus minus thirty thousand people watching them would agree with me when I suggest you get off the couch and grab a tent in preparation for next year.
Ek is smoorverlief op Oppikoppi.”
Lize Kay presents the Breakfast show on MFM 92.6 Stellenbosch and appears on two shows monthly on MK
“For the fifteenth year in a row, Oppikoppi was an enormous success. Though this was only my second time attending, the passion for this landmark in local music is palpable on every face present.
Music-wise, we see all of the best, the legends of Oppikoppi and local music such as Fokofpolisiekar, Albert Frost and Koos Kombuis. But the beauty of it is the constant appearance of fresh new bands, such as Wrestlerish. Playing a daytime slot, these Pretoria boys drew a crowd that appreciated their lovely acoustic tracks; one cannot help but have every space in one’s mind flooded with frontman Werner Olckers’ beautiful lyrics that are so poetic in their honesty. Other virgin Oppikoppi performers include Jack Parow, who undoubtedly has the foulest mouth in the industry but had his crowd in stitches.
Other artists may have graced the Oppikoppi stage a number of times, but their performances continue to be awe-inspiring: Albert Frost remains the ultimate master of blues; Fokofpolisiekar will forever be the ultimate Afrikaans rock band and kidofdoom blew me away with the best performance of theirs I have ever seen.
The festival is legendary and its age means that by now organisation in thorough, and performers are the best of the best. So here’s to Oppikoppi Smoorverlief, and to the next 15, and the next 150!”
Wayne, The Sick-Leaves
“It was my first time playing there and first time being there.
I’ve been to a lot of festivals locally as well as in the UK and Oppikoppi ranks as one of the top for me although definitely not for the faint of heart campers though. Camping in the VIP band camping area was a blessing as I walked through the general campsite, it was hardcore, very rough setup. A definite big ups to all the people who came through to the festival to support the bands.
I had a really cool gig there, the sound crew were really on it and the onstage sound was powerful.
We also had an awesome crowd which is what makes the show.
As for the bands I watched I would say that Voodoo Child, 340ml and Isochronous stood out the most. Voodoo Child are a really talented group of guys, 340ml are just a very cool band and Isochronous really have a good sound and I enjoyed their set.
So from a performance point of view I give it a 10/10
Overall festival point of view also a 10/10
I will surely be back next year!
Jasmine Jagger used to be an FHM model but right now she’s working on an album with Marko from Isochronous and Yesterday’s Pupil, with that kind of cred I don’t even know why we mentioned the model thing.
“Earth, dry heat, a piece of land inhabited by wild life, becomes a playground for the lovers of music and those who play it. The masses swarm here every year as if they were migrating for the mating season, “which could possibly be the case, as it is a music festival, and anything goes” it attracts all walks of life, you could be a man you could be woman or you could be both, it doesn’t matter, because for 3 days we all look the same, no colour no facial features, just dirty brown expressions on our faces, there is no judgment, because we are all here for the same reason, one reason, to pay witness to South Africa’s finest musical talent in one single weekend…
With the continuous playing of music you are drawn to open your ears to something new. No matter what your favoured choice of sound, oppikoppi only pays tribute to the best. Captivated by the fine scent of burning wood, beer, cigarettes and dust, the constant shouting of “oppikoppi” somehow echo through your veins and it is that exact phrase that reassures you that you are now part of the making of something historic and with a single beat our feet lift from the ground beneath us, our bodies propelled in whatever direction the melody takes us. In a crowd of thousands we stand as one.
Dust to dust we beat together…”