On Thursday, the 4th of August 2011 me and @BaasDeBeer made our way to the farm outside a little town called Northam in the Limpopo province for Oppikoppi Unknown Brother. Although we took the shittiest pot-hole infested road via Brits to the festival we managed to get there in 1 piece. We also caught up with the Oppikoppi Convoy (which had taken the safer route) in Northam on our way to the farm. We arrived at our dusty, thorn-tree infested camp spot about 1 in the afternoon. We opened our first beers for the weekend and started setting up camp. This was a lengthy process, but we managed to pull it off in less than 2 hours (despite complaints from your’s truly that the gazebo was as complicated as an “Alien Vagina”). 1 beer was followed by quite a few others and before we knew it all of us were in supercharged-festival-mode. We explored the stage area in the late afternoon, had a braai at the campsite and drank beer till about 2 AM. I also made sure that @DieOranje_Skaap found our campsite. My 13th Oppikoppi festival was on its way.
Friday morning started with coffee and a few beers. We also realized that our camp mate @KonstantDJDeVos had set up a tent for someone and that he could not remember it. We also explored the food stalls and checked what was on offer. My phone battery almost died but I managed to charge it for a bit in @BaasDeBeer’s and Camp Mate Kevin’s bakkies. Then I realized that my camera battery was dying. Luckily @BraaiBoy offered to charge it for me in the Kreef Hotel (thank goodness for that). The bands started playing at 3 PM. Me and @BaasDeBeer got into festival mode, had a few beers, bumped into random people we know from Twitter and eventually watched Frankie Fire on the main stage at 7 PM. Isochronous got on the main stage at 8 PM. The 10,000+ crowd were mesmerized by the awesome audio / visual display put on by the Pretoria rockers. They were followed by Afrikaans Rockers Ef-El (who played their last ever show at this year’s festival). I must say that expected a bit better from them, but it could’ve been worse. They were followed by veteran ska punk rockers Fuzigish (which caused the first mosh-pits of the festival). They showed just why they were still considered as one of the best live acts in SA after all these years (Fuzigish were formed in the mid to late 1990s). The last act of the evening were Southern Gypsey Queen (who never manages to disappoint me with their live sets). Lead singer Gareth Wilson, drummer Paul Wilson and bassist Tammy Wilson soon had the crowd rocking out to some brilliant guitar rock powered tunes. After a trip back to the campsite it was time to venture to the top bar for some “nightcaps”. Eventually I crawled into my tent at about 2 AM.
Saturday morning’s hangover was cured by some Genpain (thanks to @JannieKotze), a morning coffee and a Burger Express Burger. Hangover recovery had to be quick because the first 2 bands were up at 10 AM already (The December Streets and the Lise Chris Band). Me and @BaasDeBeer made our way to The December Streets first. This Pretoria based band won the 2010 KFC Sessions and have been making waves in the SA Music scene ever since. They turned out to be a crowd favorite. Their cover version of the Mumford & Sons tune “Little Lion Man” went down very well with the crowd. Me and @BaasDeBeer left early to make our way to the Bruilof stage for Lise Chris Band. This was also impressive. We also managed to bump into a few of our Aandklas Hatfield friends in front of the stage. We had the honor of attending the VIP Oppikoppi Tweetup after this. About 70 people (which included many of our best Twitter friends) made our way to the Jose Cuervo deck for some “refreshments”. It was an awesome experience. The deck offers the best view of the festival. After enjoying some “refreshments” we made our way to the Top bar for some more “refreshments” (meeting more Twitter folk in the process). We made our way to the Skellum stage after this to catch Harpdog Frost (Albert Frost and his dad). This was definitely one of the highlights of the festival for me. Albert Frost is still one of my favorite live performers in SA and he did not disappoint (he never does). And he’s been to each and every Oppikoppi festival from 1994 (which is some kind of record if you ask me).
Next up were Cape Town based rockers Mr Cat and the Jackal (who have been stirring the SA Music pot over the last 2-3 years). The 10,000+ crowd gathered in front of the main stage were thoroughly impressed. There truly is no other band like them in South Africa. Me, @SniperMime and @DieOranje_skaap made our way to the Skellum stage next to catch Van Der Want & Letcher. It was the first time since 2005 that I saw these brilliant okes perform and I was impressed. We made our way to the main stage after this to catch Cape Town folk rockers Holiday Murray (who also impressed the Unknown Brother crowd). After a re-fuelling session at the camp site, me and @BaasDeBeer made our to the Skellum stage again to catch SA music legend Karen Zoid. She got the Oppikoppi crowd going, in a sense preparing them for the party that was ahead of them. Pretoria based Afrikaans Rap outfit Bittereinder were up next on the Bruilof stage. They truly ripped the Oppikoppi Unknown crowd a new one with their brilliant performance (which featured guest appearances by Richard Brokensha of Isochronous fame and Jack Parow). Without a doubt, this was the best performance by a local artist at the festival (and I’m sure many Unknown Brothers and Sisters will agree). Next up on the main stage was Jax Panik (who might have been a crowd favorite, but didn’t impress me much at all). Me and @BaasDeBeer managed to catch Not My Dog on the Bruilof stage after that and enjoyed every second of their loud performance. This was followed by performances by Desmond and the Tutu’s, Gazelle & Zebra and Giraffe (which were all good in my humble opinion). The last act of the day were Bellville rockers Van Coke Kartel (who proved once again why they won the 2011 MK Award for best live act). The way that that drummer Jason Oosthuizen approached the stage by beating a school-orchestra-style drum on his way to the stage was epic. I eventually crawled into my tent at 1:30 AM (lacking energy for the party at the top bar).
On Sunday morning we awoke to find one of our camp mates’ pants in a tree, playing cards from a failed game of Kings all over the camp site and everyone drinking beer at 9 AM. 2 of our camp mates had lost their Blackberries on Saturday (which might be some kind of festival record). This did not discourage @BaasDeBeer from starting his day with a Black Label. In true Oppikoppi style this was followed by Brandy & Coke with breadrolls and chips at 10 AM (consider to be the perfect festival breakfast). Our day started with Die Tuindwergies at 2 PM. They proved to be a crowd favorite, just like The Black Hotels (who were playing at the Skellum stage at the same time). After this it was the turn of Gauteng based rockers and Oppikoppi crowd favorite Wrestlerish (who had the crowd singing along to songs like Oliver Tambourine). Next up were Dance You’re On Fire on the Bruilof Stage. Highlights of the show included a crowd sing-a-long to Michelle and an actually Panjo-styled tiger in a box during the performance of their song Boxes of Tigers. Dan Patlansky was up next (which was another highlight of Oppikoppi 2011). He ripped the crowd a new one with his hard rock / blues style guitar riffs. After a quick trip for re-supply at the tent it was time for Die Heuwels Fantasties on the Bruilof stage. They had the capacity crowd singing along to songs like Leja and their new single Buitenste Ruim. I caught one song of the Tumi set on the Skellum stage next and then me and @BaasDeBeer made our way to the main stage for the David Kramer tribute show (which featured guess appearances by Michelle Shocked, Donovan from Hotwater, Tamara Dey from Flash Republic, Karen Zoid, Pierre and Fred from Die Heuwels Fantasties, Francois van Coke, Jack Parow and Jaco & Peach from Bittereinder). This was something special. The tribute show celebrated David Kramer’s 30 years in the SA Music industry.
After a quick beer break at the camp site, American rockers The Used made their way on the stage 40 minutes after they were scheduled to start. 15,000+ disgruntled music fans were chanting “What The Fuck” in front of the main stage, trying to get the organizers to get the show on the way. Eventually the show started and the Oppikoppi Unknown Brother crowd went ape shit, but there were complaints about the sound quality on Twitter. It wasn’t the best performance that I’ve seen by an international band, but I attribute this mainly to me not really being a fan of The Used. We made our way to the Bruilof stage again to catch Afrikaans Zef Rap Superstars Die Antwoord after this. They played their usual set, and die-hard fans of Ninja, Yo-landi and DJ Hitek were singing along to most of their songs. We made our way to Sum 41 after this. These Canadians were definitely the best international act at Oppikoppi this year. The crowd loved them. Their stage personality was awesome. Hearing 15,000+ people singing along to their songs made me think back to the days when I used to listen to their music every day. The mutual love of rock had brought the faithful together again. All was good in the world. Me and @BaasDeBeer went up to the Top Bar for the coolest after-party of the weekend. We bumped into various Pretoria folks, famous folks, @BraaiBoy, @comradesipho and cool Cape Town peeps like @texxonfire. The party continued till 4:30 AM on Monday morning. I eventually crawled into my tent at 5:15 AM. After packing about 1/3 of our camp mates’ luggage onto the back of @BaasDeBeer’s bakkie during the day, we made our way back to the capital city at 1 PM. We only got home at 4:30 PM (thanks to heavy traffic between the farm and nearby Northam).
Oppikoppi Unknown Brother 2011 can be described in one word: “AWESOME”. The card system was not a complete fail, although it would be nice if the speed that it operates could be improved. There were still bar queues, but the food queues were better this year than last year. And for those of who weren’t there or those of you who were too pissed to notice at the festival: Over 32,000 Jose Cuervo shots were sold at the bars at Oppikoppi this year (that’s about 10,000 bottles of Cuervo, for the record). That’s just bloody insane.
First of all I’d like to thank Hilltop Live and Oppikoppi Festival for the pit access at the festival this year. It was fun experiencing Oppikoppi from a different angle. My second thank you goes out to @JoseCuervoSA, @rudi_cronje and @brandsrock for organizing the VIP TweetUp at the festival. You okes Rock My 3rd thank you goes out to all the cool Twitter folk that enhanced my festival experience in some or other way this year: @BaasDeBeer, @texxonfire, @sparklez23, @wasbeer, @LouisNova, @Prons90, @DieOranje_Skaap, @_mazz_, @haybrey, @missbronni, @ladyrockerSA, @KonstantDJDeVos, @LeandivdLaarse, @tamarin7, @El_Presidente_, @WendyVerwey, @TheMandibleClaw, @lizhani, @lisakuntze, @Silvia_Korola, @bangersandnash, @natalieroos, @watkykjy, @LiamLynchPhoto, @Liesldb, @BraaiBoy, @stevoza, @belindametb, @JohnStoked, @donmulto, @MarilizeChannon, @TessManders, @liliradloff, @Glitterachi, @blommekind16, @rudimasjien, @emokidlynn, @RyanBrunyee, @jacquesdpsa, @antonnies, @kevingossross, @JWGoosen, @sinistermoon, @DanielleAmbz, @Superfreak_SA, @sourmash_sa, @Craig_Stack, @AhweLady, @JannieKotze, @SniperMime, @comradesipho, @prinsesgreta, @garethwilsonsa, @gevaaalikdotcom, @BiankaFerreira7, @Ronitae, @TrulyTrudie, @MonkeyMarcel, @msbunnypants, @nadinesmit, @Stormin_ and others. And my 4th thank you goes out to the okes from Cape Town who gave us a jump start before we left the farm. See all of you at Oppikoppi 2012
More Oppikoppi Unknown Brother Reviews:
- Oppikoppi 2011 – In Foreign Territory - Texx and the City
- Oppikoppi 2011: The One that broke me – Banger And Nash
- Oppikoppi 2011: The dust, the bands and the dust – a photo essay – Daily Maverick
- Things I wish they had told me before Oppikoppi – 2 Oceansvibe
- Oppikoppi 2011: Unknown Brothers – The Wildflower Story
- Oppikoppi Dustbowl Confessions – Mahala
- Oppikoppi 2011: Unknown Brother – Mio