Firstly, let me get it this out of the way. Yes, I have never before been to Oppikoppi (hence the term Koppi Virgin). This does not however mean that I am a newbie in the entertainment world. I have been to more gigs, shows and festivals than I can remember. I’ve done the whole shebang from playing in a band myself to organising tours. Furthermore, I have roughed it in informal settlements for months in African countries. I’ve done survivor camps, rock climbing, river rafting on the Zambezi and many other extreme fun events. I’ve even gone shopping in Menlyn during the school holidays. So of course I was prepared for Oppikoppi.
The sheer magnitude of the festival almost overwhelmed me. To see thousands upon thousands of people from such a diverse cultural spectrum all together for one event was amazing. From the white Rasta to the black punk, the boerseun in khakis and a Fokofpolisiekar T-shirt to the poppie trading her Sandton-manicure for hippie-pants and a MK-cap… To be frank, I can go see bands any time I want, but to live the experience of Oppikoppi is, evidently, much more than just the music.
Our campsite was my base of operations. Here my days began with Black Label and ended with friends around the fire just before curling up in my dusty tent. I was privileged enough to have a really fun crowd camping with us. My fellow Koppi Virgins and I were continually enthralled by tales of previous Oppikoppi’s as told by people like Henno Kruger (doing his 13th) and others with a few Koppi’s behind them. What made these stories even more awesome was the realisation that I too, was now living the stories I would tell to next year’s campers. Aside from all the laughs and random encounters with even more random people, camping also provided me with a strange opportunity to reflect. I was surrounded by dust (and a LOT of it), noise (every surrounding campsite had its own self appointed DJ) and conversations (you’d be surprised to know what people all around your tent talk about at 3:30 am). Yet somewhere in the cacophony I found myself engaged in my own thoughts for the first time in ages. I don’t know whether it was the change of pace form the city, or the subconscious realisation of the inherent freedom that Oppikoppi embodies. All I know is that there, on the corner of Frank Frost and Freedom, I found a part of my inner self that I thought had long ago been lost.
During the day, things were a lot less mushy and the music took over. Of the 5 stages on which more than 80 bands performed, I frequented four. I left the electro/dance stage to those that actually like that type of music. My personal favourites of the festival was undoubtedly Karen Zoid, Not My Dog, Bittereinder (by far the best local act at Oppikoppi. Read my interview with them on SA Music Zone) and the Canadian band Sum41 who blew more than 16 000 people away with their old songs and new hits alike. Other bands that need to be mentioned for exceptional performances are Van Coke Kartel, Die Heuwels Fantasties, Die Tuindwergies, December Streets, the Lise Chris Band and Frankie Fire. A very special show was the David Kramer tribute, celebrating his 30 years in the SA music industry. He put is all into an amazing performance, collaborating with -amongst others- Karen Zoid, Francois van Coke, Pierre Greeff (Heuwels Fantasties) and Jaco van der Merwe & Peach van Pletzen of Bittereinder.
Certain moments at the fest just managed to put the proverbial cherry on top of the already delicious cake. On the Saturday we had a TweetUp (meet-up of various twitter folks) hosted on the Cuervo deck. I was privileged enough to be there (seeing as I helped to organise it) and meet some of South Africa’s most prominent online personalities… whilst drinking tequila.
Visits to the legendary Top Bar (especially the post-koppi party after the last shows were done) made for more epic moments than I can mention (some of which I’d rather NOT mention).
All in all I can say that my first Oppikoppi experience was a tremendously good one. I will definitely be going back next year… and every year thereafter. If YOU are still an Oppikoppi Virgin, do something about it. Oppikoppi 2012 is waiting for you!
To my Unknown Brother who traded his suit and tie for and tie-die and Doc’s…
To my Unknown Sister who used a portable ablution facility for the first time…
To the Unknown organisers and crew who made this event a reality…
I salute you. YOU are the people that make Oppikoppi the life changing experience that it is.