Old People and Farmersby Kai Linder / Images by Richard Johnson / 10.02.2012
After spreading the word and love of Up the Creek, I was a little worried that 2012 would not measure up to expectations. Let’s be honest, I have fallen for festivals in the past. I’ve sung their praises to my friends and exhorted them to join me for the next year, only to be bitterly disappointed by masses of new people, huge lines of humanity and being horribly overcharged. Thus, I entered the gates of Up the Creek with just a touch of nervous anticipation.
The good times started immediately – oh joy of joys, they had replaced the Lunar Surface from last year with soft, comfy grass for the camping areas. While on these mundane, comfort issues, they also had flush toilets and hot showers – even for the plebs! Yes, these facilities were burdened over the space of weekend, but if you want to take a dump during prime time, morning traffic, that’s your problem. But the camping facilities were better than most festivals I have been to, at home and abroad.
One of the main reasons I love this festival, is the river. The Breede has warm water; the venue has a massive beach and a perfect swimming hole in front of the River Stage and bar. This is the kind of scenario every festival wants. Saturday and Sunday saw masses of flotation devices, from Orca Whales to old Scooter inner tubes, being put through their paces by old bearded men, nubile young girls, pale hipsters (just a few) and farmers in rugby shorts. All the while bands serenaded the drunken masses and the lifeguards stressed themselves ragged trying to keep everyone alive. This is what a festival should be!
Once you hade sufficiently soaked yourself in the river and quaffed another paint removal strength “Iceberg” drink, one had only to stroll (in my case, quite slowly) up the hill to the Main Stage, bar and food areas. I never found myself queuing for too long and the food on offer had something for everyone. It was a pleasant experience and one that many of the other events and festivals in SA could learn from. You never felt hemmed in, or under the yoke, of a mass of people.
Food, drink and comfort, check! Now to the most important part of the festival, the music. Thursday evening was all blues and rock at the small stage. Dan Patlansky blew my hair back. The guy’s skill on the electric guitar is well known and he has some of the best orgasm faces I have ever seen. Although I may not have realised it at the time, Patlansky set a tone for the rest of the weekend to follow.
Friday evening was probably the best line-up I have witnessed at a festival in South Africa, perhaps even anywhere. The fast rising talent of, Jeremy Loops, warmed us up and got the feet tapping. The guy gets better every time I see him. Albert Frost and the Blues Broers brought their usual awesomeness. Machineri were a band I have been wanting to see for some time now, and it was like the first glimpse of the Valkyries by a dying Viking. The Sannie Fox’s voice is on another level and she had the whole audience entranced. She took us away into her dark, blues rock world and we would have happily followed her into oblivion. By the end, I could only imagine how amazing this act would be if they had a bass player, something with a deeper range to lock down those guitars, but hey that’s just me. This was followed by aKing belting out their new album and then one of the most powerful live sets from Taxi Violence I have ever seen. Stix, our photographer, even complained that they were bouncing around like such manic children of rock that he was struggling to get photos that were in focus. This was followed by a mammoth bar session with the bands. Taxi are a dangerous lot.
Saturday was definitely a more chilled line up. Outside of Shadowclub who seemed to be on a demented high that not even my 2 days of devilry and mayhem could touch. These guys went off. The rest of the evening was spent concentrating on my drinks and conversations, as the line up steadily moved away from my tastes. The Kongos were average, the highlight being their old man, who came out and rocked one of his hits from the 70s. Talk about misjudging a guy. Kongo Dad looked like a total music nerd, but when he started singing… my opinion changed in an instant. After this my brain turned to mush, too many Icebergs and too much sun, I spent a lot of time trying to cool it submerged in the river.
Perhaps the most exciting thing about this festival is that all the artists had guests in their line-ups. Piet Botha seemed to be a popular choice and must have snuck onto stage at least five times over the weekend. The Creek is also the only Festival where you will see a farmer in his two-tone broek and hemp, dancing to a hippy rock goddess with a Kloof street hipster in the tightest cut-off jeans on earth. Often referred to as the Old People’s Festival, this was true and yet not. The crowd was diverse as were the acts and that’s always part of the charm. There were no fights, no huge ranting disagreements, everyone seemed to get along, and get on with it.
Will I be back next year – most definitely. Will I encourage people to go, probably not. What I am really trying to say here is, Up the Creek is a festival for old people and farmers and you don’t want to go.
*All images © Richard Johnson.