I’m sitting at home, basking in some sort of Oppikoppi afterglow. I can’t remember what it feels like to breathe through my nose and I’m slightly apprehensive because I think I may need a lung transplant, but oh was it worth it.
What a time, what a time!
This year Oppikoppi made the somewhat controversial decision to return to its roots, forgoing international headliners in favour of a fantastic (mostly) local line-up. By focusing on diversity, inclusivity, giving platforms to up-and-coming artists and seamlessly blending old favourites with amazing new talent, Oppikoppi Nomakanjani promised to be something new and certainly did not disappoint.
Having missed last year’s Oppi, I couldn’t help but wonder what this year’s festival would bring, would the dust be as bad as usual? Would I be able to survive the walk up to the top bar? Would it be freezing cold? Well, equipped with the wrong tent poles, a sick best friend, not enough gin and way too much tonic, I made my way to everyone’s favourite dustbowl to find me some answers.
THURSDAY BECAUSE I ONLY DRINK ON DAYS THAT END WITH A Y
Arriving mid-Thursday afternoon, my friend and I were lucky enough to find a campsite close-ish to the entrance and, having put up a lean-to version of our tent and pouring a gin and tonic, or two, I was ready. Much of the remaining afternoon was spent wandering from stage to stage and catching up with friends. Ruby Gill’s lovely top bar set kickstarted the festival for me, followed by a magical sunset set by Luma. After a brief trip back to the campsite to put on some layers, I was set for a night of good music, good company and a lot of tequila. Thursday night saw amazing sets from the likes of The Moths, Crimson House and Hello Beautiful. I’m of the opinion that every good Oppikoppi experience must have at least one night where you end up at the top bar and Thursday night was no exception. With #SOZLOL playing the best songs ever (obviously), I spent the rest of my night at the Top Bar until I could no longer ignore the call of my tent.
Friday dawned along with an unpleasant hangover and a lot of glitter in my hair. This was mostly fixed by a shower and the anticipation of the day’s amazing line-up. One of the highlights of this year’s festival was the Ray-Ban Live Interactive Sessions in which various artists were interviewed and then gave a short performance. These interviews were so informative, giving us insight into the artists, what inspires them, their musical journeys, challenges they face and their goals. Needless to say, I spent a large part of my afternoon chilling in the Ray-Ban tent watching various interviews and leaving only to go and watch super fun sets by Bam Bam Brown and Retro Dizzy.
I was extremely excited for Friday night’s line-up and rightly so. Mx Blouse started the night off on a high note and after a very brisk walk to Bruilhof stage, I managed to catch the last of Sho Madjozi’s amazingly energetic performance. van Pletzen’s set brought plenty of kak lekker vibes and Grassy Spark wowed the crowd with an absolutely epic performance that included some very snazzy new songs. Bongeziwe Mabandla’s set was definitely one of the best of this year’s Oppikoppi, as his soulful performance captivated the crowd and melted even the coldest of hearts (like mine, which had completely frozen thanks to the arctic temperatures). The rest of my night was filled with adventure, including following butterflies in search of a secret room, getting some relief from the cold (and tequila) at the top bar, listening to some trap and hip hop in the (Jager)Meisterhaus and dancing to Goodluck’s set in a feeble attempt to keep warm (note: this did not work). Eventually however, the icy cold temperatures got the best of me and I had to admit defeat and go to bed.
After spending much of my night worrying about losing my toes to frostbite, I woke up cold and exhausted on Saturday morning and made the decision to remain in my sleeping bag until almost 11am. Eventually, lured by the promise of some awesome artists lined up to be interviewed at the Ray-Ban tent, I managed to drag myself out of the tent and into the dust. Except for a brief break to watch Brynn’s performance (which featured awesome violinist Hezron Chetty), I spent the whole of Saturday afternoon in the Ray-Ban tent enjoying Tecla Ciolfi’s (Texx and The City) interviews with Mx Blouse, Darkie Fiction, BLK JKS, Deniece Marz and Stiff Pap. I was blown away by the extremely talented duo Darkie Fiction and I highly recommend you check out their song ‘Malibongwe’.
Saturday night promised to be one for the books with a stellar line-up which included highly anticipated sets from this year’s tribute artist Oliver Mtukudzi, Fokofpolisiekar and Kwesta. Oliver Mtukudzi’s sunset performance was truly exceptional and, although the temperature plummeted, there were incredible sets from the likes of the Hellcats, Symatics, BLK JKS, The Jagermeister Brass Cartel ft 2Lee Stark and Cockles (with their unique brand of #relatable songs), to keep everyone warm. Fokofpolisiekar can do no wrong and of course had had the crowd singing along, but the real highlight of Saturday night was Kwesta. His set was extraordinary, with an incredible live band accompanying him on stage, his performance honestly blew me away and the crowd’s energy was electric. ANG and Miki San Tzu brought all the bass I’ve ever wanted and more with one of the craziest sets the Redbull stage has ever seen, ensuring that the festival literally went out with a bang.
All in all, this year’s Oppikoppi was, in my opinion, a great success. Aside from being well run, having clean portaloos (this is important), great music and good food available; Oppikoppi this year felt different. Different in a good way. It felt inclusive. It felt diverse. It felt like it actually represented South Africa. I was constantly amazed by the energy of the crowd, the friendliness and the excitement which hung in the air. It was an incredible showcase of local talent and I am in awe of just how amazing our local music is. We’re so privileged to have all of this music right at our doorstep.
Oppikoppi faced a major challenge this year with the sheer amount of crime that took place and although there seemed to be a heavy police presence, it seemed as though everyone had, or knew someone who had their phone/tent/booze/chairs stolen or their tents slashed. I can only hope that in the years to come better plans are made to combat crime (or that petty criminals just stop being kak and leave the festival alone).
Thanks must, of course, go to the organisers, after all without you there would be no Oppikoppi at all. You guys really did something special this year and I so look forward to what future Oppikoppis bring.
In closing: I’m really hoping I survive this year’s bout of Oppi lung so that I can catch it all over again next year.