As everyone is packing away their lilos after this annual migration to Swellendam, commentary in all forms has flooded the Internet regarding the “conditions” at this year’s Up the Creek.
How horrible that we where all forced to spend a weekend along like minded individuals listening to the sweet songs of artists that have spent countless hours perfecting their craft for your listening pleasure. And heaven forbid we top it all off by having wine at R35 a bottle or work up a fierce tan by lounging on a river all day.
Keeping a festival running for 25 years is no small feat and that would not have been possible if it had not been for certain changes along the way. Now one must ask, is change for the sake of change really for the best? In this case, no. One of the biggest changes his year is certainly the movement of the smaller stage to a separate are and saw people moaning from sun up to sun set. Had this plan been orchestrated better it might have succeeded with flying colours. But a lack of bathroom facilities and the obvious danger of sending 300 cooked festival goers down a rocky hill at 2 in the morning did not aid in this case.
A moment of silence must also be held for the 3am dancing sessions around DJ Dirtroad and his kombi. Where are the days where we would take a quick dip after the last show and then dance well into the morning at the ritual BYOB midnight sessions? To experience dead quite festival grounds at that time of the morning is eerie and unnatural.
Other problems included horribly overpriced food and the long bathroom ques. Both could be avoided by packing your own snack pack or peeing in a bush. The one problem I could not look past was the removal of the free water tanks. Even in Satan’s dustbowl at Oppikoppi the festival makes sure attendees stay well hydrated amidst all the debauchery. Forcing me to buy water by the liter in odd plastic milk bottles was uncalled for. Let’s rather not mention the ice situation…
One thing the festival does better than anyone else is mixing up it’s line-up. Year after year they serve up an interesting mix of old, new, big and small bands. This year was no different even though I would have like to see a bit more variation on the Friday as the stage was overrun by monotone indie tunes for 4 hours straight.
Here are my top 5 acts of the weekend:
This gem sadly went unnoticed by many as they got the first slot on Sunday morning. For this I am eternally grateful. I was sitting with only a hand full of people and by the second song Dave van Vuuren had the whole lot of us in tears. It has been ages since someone has moved me so deeply armed with only his voice and a few simple chords. And as soon as his band stepped on stage they blew the roof off the place.
This impromptu act is set to become a festival favorite. Fronted by Andre Kriel (The Black cat Bones), this is simply a collaboration of friends with one goal in mind: To entertain. And that they do. This performance included Piet Botha, Guy Collins, Gareth Wilson, Albert and Gideon Meintjies, Rudi and Arthur Dennis,Greg Georgiades, Len Misken, Chris van der Walt, Naming James and many more. 14 people on one stage=magic!
The Lyzyrd Kyngs
These guys are the epitome of Up the Creek and I simply cannot imagine a festival without them. Their unique blend of Blues-rock and African rhythms ensured the perfect backdrop for the first day of river escapades. They also closed the festival off with a rendition “Let it Be” that pulled on every heart string in the house.
There is not much to say about them other than “you had to be there”. With lyrics like “your pussy my face, your dick my place” and the loose canon Wynand Davel on violin this was non stop energy and laughs.
These youngsters could not have started out the weekend any better. With an incredible debut album these guys are top of my “Bands to Watch” list and they did not disappoint. They played like their lives depended on it and quickly had the whole crowd eating out of their hands.
No matter the complaints, in the end we all went for the music. And that was delivered. All the rest are simple bonuses that could have made our experience that much better. After 25 years the festival is certainly bigger than ever and with a little grinding of the edges it will soon be at it’s best. Let’s just not forget there is still no other festival that comes close to this level of efficiency and popularity.
They came, they changed, they made us want to come back…