With little other than a song in my heart and a smashed up tent in the boot I set of to Up the Creek late on Thursday afternoon. As soon as the rubber hit the long and winding gravel road everything felt right with the world. My favourite festival weekend has arrived and my party hat was on.
We are greeted at the gate by friendly faces as always, eager to get festival goers off to their campsite as fast as they can. This year's addition of the Howler cashless system had quite a few people debating the pro's and cons of of ditching your wallet, but nothing seems smarter to me than strapping my wallet to my arm! That means an extra free hand for a Titanic!
The sense of community amongst the campers is ever present and the sound of hammers and tent pegs are equaled by the sound of beer cans cracking open and tubes being inflated. The music kicks off at 19:00 and night 1 promises to be a wild ride. There has been some tongues wagging about the line-up this year. With many younger and smaller acts replacing tried and tested veterans, Creekers brought the R1000 ticket price into question. One can't help but remember years past where those who snoozed on buying tickets early where left trawling the internet in the hopes of a loose ticket floating around. Nonetheless, I had high hopes.
Right off the bat the howler card are a hit. With fast service it's a breeze and all the haters where put to shame. A few extra toilets in the camping grounds also made all the difference. The rest of the festival grounds seemed more or less the same as it is a recipe that has proven it's succes year after year. The biggest changes this year came with the line-up.
I know festivals are great to get to see new acts and alternative bands but this year the big5 on my list was Spoegwolf, Fokofpolisiekar, Mango Groove, Sunset Sweatshop and Schalk Bezuidenhout.
Boulevard Blues gets the show going. Mildly entertaining blues with long winded solos and steadfast rhythms. It's not the bang I would have liked to get things started off with but it would have to suffice. And so my 1st highlight of the weekend hits the stage. SPOEGWOLF! Fans rush to the stage, each dragging a friend by the arm. "This is that band I told you about!" . The Stellenbosch natives envelop the stage with their massive sound and even bigger spirit. They hit every note and converts every Creeker within earshot. Ben Dey & the Concrete Lions has the enormous task to follow up this stellar performance. They barely make it up the mast but deliver a solid performance non the less. Aiden Martin is also in good form but little has changed from his previous reliable performances on the same stage. As usual Crimson House completely brings the house down. Even tough they still have a very similar set to other years they still manage to keep it fresh with their explosive energy and superb showmanship. Everyone burned more calories than a Saturday morning spin class and for that we thank you, Riaan, and your band of misfits. They Beach Toys and Half 'n Half brought us home with non stop sing along tunes to transport us into day 2 of the festivities.
Friday is always met with great eagerness as everyone heads down to the main attraction, The River Stage. Only this year the drought has put a bit of a hold on our plans. With water barely reaching your knees it was a dismal sight but in true Creek spirit, you make it work! Floaties in every shape and size try to squeeze into the lacklustre body of water to enjoy what lay ahead on the lineup. Mobing Bali, Fox Comet, Veladraco and West Coast Wolves where dished up but didn't really leave me hungry for more. Some pitchy performances and slow tempos didn't quite set the right mood for the River Stage so I made my way back up the the festival grounds to see if there is more action. Somewhere between Jeffrey the Jam Van and the Jagermeister truck my hope was restored.
We made sure to get seats early for Schalk Bezuidenhout as the first stand up comedy addition to Up the Creek was sure to be a hit. His warm up act, Kate Pinchuck could still use some warming up herself but could squeeze a giggle from us here and there. But Schalk did not disappoint. He had the crowd in stitches from the first second with fresh material and some spectacular improvising. The rest of the night was another tough one to get through. Sublime Tribute Project is always a treat and they where tight as every. I still don't get all the fuss about Opposite the Other but good on them for coming this far. They kind of ease their show lacks only comes with experience so hopefully it will get better with time. Native Young was one of the big winners for me on the line-up. With relevant and newfangled music they hit every right note. A massive responsibly rest on their shoulders as they has to rev up the crowd for Mango Groove, and rev we did! There is little to say about Mango Groove that has not been said. Every hit stirs up all the feels! I now know that if Cape Town does the rain dance as one man to the beat of "Special Star" all our problems will be solved. For not long after that the downpour began.
On Saturday morning the all to familiar grey skies loomed above us but we kept faith that it would not be a repeat of the great Creek Monsoon of 2017. But as the saying goes, if you can't handle the rain, get off the festival ground?? (Or something like that). And on that day of the year of our lord 2018, I learned a very tough life lesson. Always drive with your own car. My festival partner could not bare another moment of solm skies and we had to pack up and leave. All that remained was a pair of muddy socks, a beat up tent and my crushed spirit quivering in a corner.
As we came speeding through Grabouw the soul crushing Whatsapps come flooding in. The river has risen to unprecedented highs. The sun is hot and the music even hotter! Word on the street is Sunset Sweatshop was the standout act but day 2 on the river brought a bit more action on the stage.
BRYNN, Nomadic Orchestra and (obviously) Fokofpolisiekar where the big hits that night. But I will let these photos from Henry Engelbrecht do the talking...
For all 40 hours of festival pleasure I was a part of, I was at about a 6.5 on the entertained scale. Having to break a budget on massive acts like Mango Groove and Fokofpolisiekar might not always be the best idea. Although it might might ensure two or three hours of top class entertainment, there is still 3 whole days that needs attention. But I will keep on Creeking till the day that I can't carry a Lilo so I will be back next year (in my own car) to see what we can dance to next!