Allow me to start by saying that Splashy Fen 2014 was by far the best weekend of my life. That’s pretty high acclaim for a guy who has been to numerous amount of music festivals, has seen some of the best international acts around and has had Deryck Whibley’s spit on his face (that’s a story for a different day).
If you ask around and try to do a little bit of research as to what Splashy Fen is and what it’s all about, you will almost always hear a similar answer: “It’s like Oppikoppi, bro.”
With two Oppikoppi’s under my belt (the first of which is where the above mentioned spit story happened), I’m probably not the most qualified person to say whether or not the two festivals are identical but I do feel like I can prove how dissimilar I think they are.
First off, Splashy is held in the gorgeous valley of Underberg (somewhere down in KZN near the Drakensburg, about 2.5 hours from Petermaritsburg). When I say gorgeous, I actually mean absolutely picturesque. Splashy also plays host to a wider variety of people – it’s a more family orientated event. You have everything from the pre-pubescent schoolboy who spends his time chasing girls, to the octogenarian couple sitting in their camping chairs right in front of the main stage. It is actually so diverse that anyone will fit in and feel comfortable in the environment.
Because Splashy is in the area that it is, it also manages to draw in a more ‘coastal’ type of crowd. You know: The guys who enjoy surfing and the girls who wear bikinis in the dead of winter. These people are so chilled vibes that you actually end up becoming more at peace with life in spite of yourself.
The point that I am trying to make is that KZN people (the ‘coastal’ crowd as earlier named) manage to make this festival so relaxed that you cannot possibly compare it to our Northam weekend of debauchery. Oppikoppi, as we all know, is notorious for its typical rock and roll theme of “sex, drugs and waking up in some random person’s tent not knowing how you got there.”
Now, do not get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE Oppikoppi, I just can’t help but feel that coming home after a weekend of festivities without the ‘post Koppi cough’ is actually a pretty good feeling as well.
So we’ve discovered that I think there is a difference between Oppi and Splashy and I’ve ALSO told you that Splashy was flippen’ amazing, here are a few things that stood out to me regarding the festival.
When you rock up at Splashy, you notice a few things. The mountains, the trees, tents, stages and then there is a RIVER! Okay granted I did not get much time to head down there myself (because the climb seemed like too much effort and the walk between my camping chair and my cooler box filled with alcohol was exercise enough) but I have been informed that the atmosphere down there was amazing. DJ’s, beach balls, floating devices of all sorts and girls in bikinis! Need I say more?
One of the things that I enjoyed most about Splashy fen was, by far, The Sedgwick’s Tent. Yep, a whole tent dedicated to our good friend OBS. However, this was no ordinary tent. They managed to shove a bunch of beanbags and a small stage like-area into it all. Everyday anyone could sign up for a 30 minute time slot and do the whole open mic thing and then you would have a bunch of dronkies and hippies lounge around on the beanbags having a good time. As a good friend of mine referred to the Sedgwick’s Tent, “It was great to have an opportunity to get cozy and to watch a band in the way that you might sit at home and watch a movie on a winters night.”
Being a bit of a sound guy in my previous life, I can safely say that the sound set up for splashy was amazeballs. Even though I spent a lot of my time in the photographer’s pit, I did manage to party it up with the muggles every now and then. Now, having said this, I believe there to have been a few glitches in some acts. Most noticeably would have to be during Jeremy Loops’ set where some of the audience/crowd actually started leaving because there were so many hang ups.
As at all festivals of any note, Splashy had a market. And, as at all festivals, this stuff was rather expensive. They were literally selling everything from onesies to tattoos (Why would you get a tattoo at a festival? Why?) However, all of it was being sold at a bit of a premium. One of the more interesting things that I noticed was some genius entrepreneurial idea of cleanliness. You heard right, folks, someone managed to build their own set (there were like 10 of them) of showers onto an easily transportable device, and they were literally renting them out. You could give away some of your precious cash dollar and in exchange they would give you a boiling hot shower.
If anyone were to ask me what I thought of Splashy, I do not think that I would tell them “It’s like Oppikoppi, bro”. I do reckon that I would say that it’s one of the best, top class festivals our country has to offer, and that you simply need to experience it for yourself.