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Rob van Vuuren

I survived Oppikoppi

2011-08-16 12:34
 I have survived yet another weekend of mayhem and music at the Oppikoppi Music Festival deep in the thorny hinterland near Thabazimbi. The dust has settled, the scars are healing and even the ringing in my ears seems to be subsiding.
Oppikoppi is more than a music concert, its an endurance event. It is rumored that the dust cloud kicked up by these 16 000 or so uber-dedicated bushveld revelers can be seen from space.

I'm not so sure about that but I can personally testify that at least 90% of that dust cloud ends up in your nose. It is then splattered out in a delightful muddy snot concoction that will haunt you for weeks afterward. It's hot during the day and cold at night and your feet ache from the trekking from stage to stage and the endless scramble up and down koppies.

Perhaps that's why festivalgoers at this particular music festival get a very special kind of drunk; the likes of which I have not witnessed elsewhere. It's like a zombie apocalypse but with the undead being fueled by beer and tequila, not human flesh, and instead of the drone of ‘braaaainnnsss’, the chilling yawp of ‘Oppppiiii’ echoes through the thorn trees only to be answered by the equally terrifying reply of  ‘Koppppiiiii’  from somewhere within the darkness and smoke.


I think it was relatively early on Friday night when I saw a young guy acting as a human leash for his completely wasted friend who stumbled blindly down the hill. It was a sweet gesture which was in no way diminished by the fact that the ‘leash’ himself was so out of it that I wouldn’t have trusted him to operate a cellphone let alone heavy machinery, or in this case an actual human being.
I've done a few festivals in my time and I don't think there is anything quite like Oppikoppi out there. It's a combination of the severity and beauty of the surroundings coupled with the single-minded conviction of the attendees to tear a hole in time and space in the name of partying that gives it this special quality.

That and the fact that you're witnessing the most impressive line-up that local music fests have to offer in the context of a festival steeped in history and good vibes.

So, what were my highlights? Well the two tribute concerts on the Saturday and Sunday respectively for heavyweights of the South African Music scene Sipho  'Hotstix' Mabuse and David Kramer completely blew me away.  

I was lucky enough to meet Sipho backstage before his show and he gave me a great big bear hug that instantly made me a die hard fan of his forever. He also brought the guitarist and vocalist for  'Harare' onstage for a few songs. This elderly gentleman in his white suit redefined the very notion of rock and roll with a performance that shook the foundations of the James Phillips Main Stage.
Francois van Coke’s acoustic duet with David Kramer on ‘Botteltjie Blou’ brought tears to my eyes.  It was truly a beautiful thing to behold.


And then there was the Bos wrestling ring deep in the campsite known as Mordor that Corne and Twakkie commandeered on behalf of Bos Ice Tea for their awesome Gravelocity competition (check out their page on Facebook).

Corne and Twakkie even managed to get the Locnville children in the ring and proceeded to whip their asses in a true masterclass of Gravelocity.  There are pictures to prove it so believe it because it's true.

There were so many more highlights that I just don’t have time to get into so just take it from me.  Oppi rocked. See you there next year.

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