“I got the black lung, Pa.”
“No you don’t. What you have is ten times worse. You’ve got that darn post Koppi cough, don’t you?”
I write this article with a scarf wrapped around my neck, a sniff in my nose and half the dust of Oppikoppi still residing deep within my lungs. That being said, my third Oppikoppi in attendance was actually one of the best.
Oppikoppi 2014 was home to a number of firsts for me. First off, I’d just like to say that this year things ran exceptionally smoothly. It was the first year that I didn’t have to wait long in a queue to get in or out of Mordor. It was the first time that I saw the organisers take some initiative and wet just about everything in order to get rid of the infamous Oppikoppi dust. I think there ended up being more mud and mush than anything else, but most people will tell you that this was more preferable. Another first for me was the fact that I can sit down, now, with a cold one and actually relate every single day of Oppikoppi 2014 back to you. Yes, you read that right, I was lucid for the entire festival. There isn’t a day that I don’t remember. That’s not something I can say about my other Oppikoppi experiences. This was in part due to another first, and this one is the biggy. It was the first time that I had media (you know, the cool kids who run around with their cameras in one hand and a beer in the other?). I was fortunate enough to be blessed with the honour of being allowed in the photographer’s pit to take photos of some of the most talented musos in the world. Here are my series of photos paired with Yetu’s take on the festival.
As a lot of people will tell you, Oppikoppi plays host to some incredible live acts. It’s not known as South Africa’s biggest festival for no reason. One of the biggest drawing cards is the attendance of some superb international acts. This year a lot of internationals make their way through to perform on our dust layered stages. A few significant acts to me were Wolfmother, Editors, Aloe Blacc, Cat Power, Rival Sons and some amazing French guy who played the organ at the small bar stage. Actually, before I mention anyone else, I need to say that Editors were by far my favourite performance of the entire festival. In the middle of their set, and slap bang in the middle of one of their songs, lead singer Tom Smith’s in ears/monitors stopped working. As I was standing right in front, literally on the fence line (yes, I have amazing people who save spots for me) I saw the whole thing unfold. You could see the realisation on Tom’s face, as he was playing piano, that he simply had no audio coming through. You could also see how extremely upset he was by this fact. However, and this is where I gained much respect for the band as a whole, they carried on! Tom carried on singing and playing even though he couldn’t hear a thing! That, my friends, is talent.
Another favourite was the terribly shy Cat Power. She performed, on her own, on one of the “smaller” stages. She had her own technical sound issues and you could see how they had their own effect on her. But her determination to push through, shaky voice and all, was much to have respect for. She sang a number of tracks that she is well known for and the people absolutely adored her. Her interaction with the crowd as she lit up a smoke on stage simply made her biggest of fans tear up. She seemed extremely frightened but I think that was what made the performance so much more endearing.
The French guy who played the organ at the small bar stage that I mentioned earlier was a complete bonus. My girlfriend and I had decided that half of Wolfmother’s set was just too much for us (really, Wolfmother is great and all, but I was a tad disappointed by the headliner’s performance) and we went on a bit of venture. Somehow we landed up chilling at the RayBan stage listening to the chilled vibes sounds that the sound engineer was playing off of iTunes. The next thing we heard was the organ start up. We sat enthralled for all of 20 minutes as the guy just pumped out sounds that no one knew an organ could even make. It later came out that he was just a random French guy who was enjoying Oppikoppi like anybody else – he wasn’t even on the line-up.
As Yetu said, Oppikoppi 2014 has come and gone, but the festival grounds of Northam will definitely be seeing me again for round 4 next year. The photos below were shot by Lourens. They’re incredible. You should probably also check out his portait series from the festival, click here.