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When you are an avid festival goer like I am, one gets spoiled by smaller more intimate festivals where it’s easy to get comfortable, the line-up is limited and there is plenty time to rest. And once a year comes the beast that is Oppikoppi and it swallows you whole and spits you back out with a bad case of black lung to boot. So it is easy to understand why I prefer the white beaches of STRAB to the red dust of Northam.

Little did I know I was in for the biggest treat imaginable this year…

Gareth Wilson and the team out did themselves in all areas when it came to the line up and to top it all off I was able to behave like a kopi-poppi at the Kreef hotel and enjoy a warm shower every morning. Under those royal circumstances I managed to become 32% Redbull and miss out on two nights of sleep just to make sure I didn’t miss a single beat!

Living it up in the Kreef Hotel

Amongst all the madness one of my friends and I made time to discuss all the ins and outs of the business and we came to the conclusion that there are three main groups of performers found on the kopi stages: Real musicians, genius marketers and the entertainers.

Here are my top 3 pics of each.

The Real Musicians:

These guys are what music is really about. They live for rock n roll and rhythms pulse through their veins. They do music their way and on their own terms and they will stand the test of time.

  • Bandalero

Spearheaded by Andre Kriel this is in ever changing band of brothers that can pop up any time and anywhere. All you need to do is point and shout “Bandalero!”. Their Oppikoppi lineup consisted of Andre Kriel, Jonathan Peyper, Gareth Wilson, Chris Kreef, Tammy Wilson, Jaco Mans, Albert Frost, Greg Georgiades, Chris van der Walt, Dave Owens and David Georgiades. Give these guys a second and they will rip a stage apart.

  • Albert Frost

Not only does he command his own stages but he is also a welcome addition to any act. Frosty featured in seven shows through the course of the weekend, bringing his unique flavor to every single one. Fans where finally treated to collaboration between Albert and Dan Patlansky (but there was one clear winner in that epic battle). Further more he jammed alongside Arno Carstens and Valiant Swart and didn’t bat an eye when Andrew Stockdale jumped on stage next to him.

  • Wonderboom

The band has been going for 18 years and in my opinion delivered the best performance of the weekend. I was surrounded by the biggest non-believers and by the time “Charlie” rolled around they where singing along just as enthusiastically as the rest of us. Not to mention when Cito pulled out a penny whistle?? No comment needed on that. They ooze sex appeal and talent and they perform with as much passion as the day they started.

The marketers.

These guys have taken a popular genre and localized it just enough to steamroll the commercial industries. Their crowds are the biggest yet the most generic. But it takes all kinds to keep things interesting…

  • Shortstarw

They know how to write a hit and they know how to get it played to the masses. I will always be jumping along to their same three chords festival after festival and I am very impressed at how their crowds keep growing larger by the minute.

The crowd gathering for Matthew Mole

  • Matthew Mole

This one-man band phenomenon is guaranteed to whip every 20 something girl into frenzy and once again he did not disappoint. Matthew has become a form of “gateway music” and has made believers from who used to be beliebers. Even tough I have seen this same show 20 times over he still effortlessly pulls it off with a shy smile and a few to many covers.

  • Gangs of Ballet

These durbanites hit SA music with a bang and have been performing their hearts out every step of the way. As is the case with Matthew, they have one album to sing from but that performance is solid and ever entertaining.

The entertainers.

They simply do what they do best. Entertain

  • Bittereinder

With a new album on the way these guys did not hold back. Phenomenal new tracks and mind blowing visuals by the master Louis Minaar secured them the top sport amongst the entertainers. A guest appearance by the ledged ,Hemelbesem ,was certainly a highlight for me as the dust covered prawns finally got to see what real hip hop is all about.

Photo by Chris Acheson

  • Boargazm

Even though the band members might be close friends of mine I have never hesitated to tell them that I greatly dislike their band. Until now. I soon found myself the center of the mosh pit head banging along with the best of them as soon as these pigs got on stage. I still don’t understand a word that was uttered on stage but all I know is those pigs can fly higher than anyone I saw over the weekend!

  • Mr Cat and the Jackal

I always enjoy sharing my favorite band with someone who has never heard their music before. Especially when a clash of the genres is involved. I certainly didn’t know what to expect when I took a hard-core blues rocker to an experimental folk show. But it didn’t take long before he was singing along louder than me to “where’s my shoes where’s my shoes”. Gertjie and the rest of the boys delivered yet another stellar performance worthy of much praise.

When you deal with a lineup of 100+ acts it’s near impossible to narrow it down to only a few top performances. Gimmicks like Springbok Nude Girls in dresses or Van Coke Kartel’s daring marketing ploy for their now video ,“Sweef”, are also noteworthy. Then there are countless smaller acts like Lucy Kruger and Jonathan Peyper that still have people talking.

Jonathan Peyper killing it after having his show moved twice

In the end I must once again commend Gareth and his team for ensuring there is literally something for everyone this year. We celebrated the old and welcomed the new. We ate dust once more and nursed some major hangovers. We came, we saw, we conquered and we made this the best Oppikoppi to date!

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