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Photos by Stanley June

Mieliepop Festival has proven its worth over the last couple of years, providing a little piece of heaven in Mpumalanga once a year to those who enjoy music, camping and making the best memories with friends. 2018 was the same, but different.

Organisers warned festivalgoers the week prior to the fest, that rain was on the way and predicted for the entire duration of the festival and that people should prepare accordingly. I heard the news, but kind of still hoped that the weather man had it wrong. I mean Mieliepop is synonymous with blue skies, sunshine, inflatables on the dam and summer wear. How on earth could it possibly rain? Well, it did. A lot. Clouds, pouring rain, gum boots and ten layers of clothing to fight off the cold was every festival goer’s reality. Not ideal, but we were there for the music and a good time and nothing would come in the way of that.

A couple of eager beavers arrived on the Wednesday (Human Rights Day) to settle in and get a head start on the festivities. However, the real action and official line-up started on the Thursday. The very first act I saw at the festival set a super high benchmark. Soulful, talented and unique – Werner Bekker. I have no doubt that he will continue to make big waves in the industry. Another big highlight on the Thursday was Pretoria locals, Deon Bakkes and the Stolen Horses. It was my first time seeing them live and wow, oh wow, what an energetic band! They evoked the dirty gypsy in us all and had everyone dancing around like cowboys and cowgirls by one song into their set. The evening’s drawcards were the ever entertaining Van Pletzen (alongside their rapper chommie, Early B), as well punk rockers Made For Broadway, who always put on one heck of a show.

Mieliepop truly succeeded in putting together a diverse line-up to appeal to each music taste and Friday’s line-up re-affirmed this perfectly. LUMA drew everyone in with their atmospheric, dreamlike sound, while BOXER proved with their edgy riffs and indie goodness why they have become such a popular and sought-after band. The Rave Cave (yup, a real one) came alive with the HAEZER vs George Daniel set. The electronic element of Mieliepop adds such a unique flavour to an already amazing festival experience. No-one could predict the massive party the Australian band, DZ Deathrays, created at the Main Stage on Friday night. They were everything we hoped for and more, and just proved again that just because an international band is small doesn’t mean they aren’t on par or even better than any massive (and sometimes overrated) international act. Grungy thrash power beats had us head banging and crafted an exhilarating vibe that echoed way after their set finished.

Saturday’s line-up overflowed with sexiness! Plus, it was the only day that the rain stayed clear to give festivalgoers some much needed Vitamin E! It was difficult to justify a trip back to the tent, because every single act was a must-see. The Jagermeister Brass Kartel is simply incredible and a party force to be reckoned with. Mish-mashing various popular tracks one after the other, led to chaotic beauty at its best. Klopjag and Boo! were perfect festival choices, adding a touch of nostalgia and reminiscence to the line-up. Both bands are as good as when they started out years ago (if not better) and remains relevant and exciting even in 2018. Good music does not age. The power bands, Crimson House and Hellcats, were evening favourites and rounded off a remarkable line-up perfectly.

Mieliepop has always been an effortless festival, but this time around your enjoyment was in your own hands and required a tad more effort. The mud and rain were realities that had to be faced. The festival organisers did everything in their power to make it a great experience amidst the weather conditions (the massive gazebo’s in front of the stages were amazing!) and the music was as incredible as ever. Truly a muddy musical mayhem that will live on in our memories for years to come.

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