I arrived at Up The Creek 2015 on Friday afternoon to an idyllic picture of all that is beautiful about this country. Perfect weather, beautiful people, brilliant music and one of the most picturesque scenes for what was set to be a great weekend. Having never been to this iconic South African festival, I had been psyching myself up for weeks, and had my lilo, sunscreen and bikini ready for music in the creek. I walked down to the river to go check things out the minute I had set up camp, and even though it was nearing sunset, there were a good number of people baking in the sun on a vast array of colourful inflatables.

I could not have asked for a better introduction, and to top it all off, the first act I saw was the epic Bye Beneco. Their sunset set on the main stage was easily one of the best performances of the weekend and they had every single attendee in the palms of their hands with their eclectic psych pop.

John Wizards were up next and though musically they are incredibly tight, talented performers, I have never seen a band look more bored on stage. Unfortunately, this made the performance fall flat and their stage personality (or lack thereof) took away from what could have been an awesome set.

Up The Creek 2015 2

Thankfully the kids from Al Bairre turned things right back up, with Zebra and Giraffe and Taxi Violence following suite with two world class performances.
After we had all rocked ourselves silly with Jager running strong in most veins, the majority of festival goers headed to the Hunters Stage where Gateway Drugs and Christian Tiger School kept us dancing into the wee hours of Saturday morning.

Together with many a hangover, Saturday brought some very gloomy weather which may have been a good thing considering how shit hangovers in the sun can be. The intermittent rain did however mean no river stage (which I had been looking forward to SO much). Bands weren’t able to cross the river so all the day-time performances had to be moved back up to the Hunter’s Stage which had a nice big tent to keep us all warm and dry. As these things tend to go, it actually provided a really rad atmosphere. When you have a couple hundred people huddled under a big tent with the rain pouring outside and mud seeping into your sneakers, it creates a camaraderie of sorts and it could almost pass for a mini-Glastonbury.
Highlights of the day were definitely Grassy Spark and Crimson House Blues, both of whom got everybody hot and sweaty with their infectious tunes.

Up The Creek 2015 4

The sunset brought on even more great acts.
Qadasi, whom I had admittedly never heard of, was the most interesting find of the weekend. The Maskandi muso from Durban is in many ways a young Johnny Clegg. Dressed in traditional Zulu attire and singing beautifully composed isiZulu songs inspired by our gorgeous country, he moved many hearts, with a couple of people visibly touched by his passion and soul. I myself had to wonder if the “white boy singing Zulu songs” was simply a gimmick, or a true reflection of someone’s upbringing and talent – but I will let you make that call. All in all, it was a great performance.

As always, Shortstraw was a massive hit and the indie rockers treated fans to some of their new tracks off their third album, Youthless. The Black Cat Bones were, as always, incredible on stage and their midnight slot made for a near perfect send off to my first experience at Up The Creek.

If you haven’t been to Up The Creek, I would definitely add it to your list of “to attends”. Even with the kak weather on day two, it was still an unforgettable experience and the beauty of the venue alone is something you must see for yourself. It is of course about the music, and as always, the organizers did a stellar job of providing us all with a great soundtrack to an awesome weekend away.

Images by Belia Oh Photography and Louise Pieterse