About a certain Creek…

Ever so slightly I shift my feet from side to side in anticipation, palms sweaty, heart palpitations fire up a notch, stomach butterflies, an amalgamation of physical signals goes through my whole body in mental preparation for what is about to happen next. In the mounting moments I know I will be seeing a band live, one I’ve dreamed of seeing.  Still, I remember the first night my mother made me sit in front of those brown Kenwood speakers to hear Claire Johnson belt out perfect vocals. Here I was, aged 33, finally to experience all that energy and talent in action.

The oke behind me just as amped, either alcohol induced or musically inclined, keeps leaning against me as he tries to shout out something to the setting stage. My irritation level almost shoots from 0 to 10 in a nanosecond, when he cups his hand around his mouth and screams at the top of his lungs, very close to my eardrum, “ Happiest people alive!”

This mediocre sentence connected with me and wraps  Up the Creek together in one string of perfect elements that came together to create a prodigious musical experience, one which fed my musical soul, one which demanded my attention to a wide spectre of talent I wasn’t aware existed, one which took me to a feeling of  being home, one which made me breathe in the moment of music in front of me.

Up the Creek 2018 contained the happiest people alive.  The shouting guy had a point. From the Creekers there to the support of music, the musicians, the bar staff, to the cleaning ladies.  Perhaps I was in my own universe, but everyone who surrounded me seemed immensely happy.

 

Friday.

The strangely soothing voice of Sean Koch introduced me to the weekend, folk-infused sounds and excellent guitar skills mashed with drizzling rain set the tone for my experience.

I can’t profess that one musician was atrocious, some were better than others and some stood out and moved me emotionally to a point where I was transfixed.

Jackal and the Wind by Lupa Media

To my big surprise, Jackal & The Wind grabbed my attention with their playful sound of the ukulele tied to Christopher’s raspy voice. Their beat is clever, they interact well with their audience and left me wanting more.

In comes  Native Young, a fine blend of men mixed into a symbiosis of melodies and lyrics, from different influences, to form a fine Afro-folk fusion that unites all listeners under one sky. There is no hesitation their background is strong, their music oozes heritage to form their unmistakable sound. Energetic performers armed with tons of soul make them entertaining to watch. Native Young a brilliant brainchild of Yannick Meyer makes me certain they are here to stay and create many more waves. Big ups to the impressive Mark Sikele on the marimba, I haven’t seen passion and talent like that together in ages.

Mango Groove the iconic and sparkling Mango Groove. They didn’t disappoint, they took the stage with all South African zest they had since they started in the 80’s. The apparent mutual respect between members is contagious to all.  The classics had me on my toes & everyone else, ‘Dance some more, Special Star and an encore ending with “Nice to meet you”. Mango Groove is iconic to South Africa, we will always be proud of the groundwork they achieved during difficult times in the

80’s and here they still are on our stages, stealing hearts and making music. Right, where we need them. Thank you, Mango Groove.

Mango Groove by Lupa Media

Saturday

The soft sound of drizzling rain wakes me up after a night of immense musical magic.

Not to keen to float in the rain, we still force ourselves to go support the local acts. This is why we are here, the music. The line up ensured we entered the rather empty river with great spirit and secured our spirit with a lekker party vibe to see us through the night.

I give you 5 letters. Put them together to form BRYNN. If like me you’ve been sleeping under a  heavy rock, take in, take note, write down and go listen to Brynn. Frontman Jules Terea(NZ)  locks you in with his seductive vocals, seals the deal with explosive heart-felt lyrics. The rest of the team deserves the status of a musical genius, especial Hezron Chetty on violin. Entertaining, talented with a fine blend of rock folk traveled through those strings in the utmost professional way. Their album launch is in March, make sure you connect with those dates.

Albert Frost by Lupa Media

The rest of the evening did not cease to disappoint. Albert Frost makes a broad statement every time he touches a guitar. He humbly demands attention and I’m drawn to those brain rattling riffs he seems do dish out with such ease.

When Slow Jack stepped on stage, I thought finally a female fronted band at Up the Creek this year, they have been a scarce spotting.When I saw how tiny she was,  I prayed her vocals didn’t match her tiny frame. Jayme van Tonder smashed any preconceived notions out of the park.  Her voice consists of persuasive quality and well balanced in production. Joined by Hannes Muller confident and warm vocals, these two harmonize perfectly. Take Slow Jack as a whole, they merge well, they have fun, they are confident in their music and portray it as such.  My ultimate tune was ‘Love to dream’. Soft, sexy and playful.

Nomadic Orchestra, dear Nomadic Orchestra. Oh, how I do love thee.  Hypnotic is the only word that comes to mind. When these guys step onto a stage and start up their instruments, I’m hooked,

involuntarily my limbs move into dance mode and I submit to the vibes, as I always do in their set.

It’s a Nomadic must. Always a powerful set with gut-wrenching, soul-enhancing and brass dancing tunes. These guys possess a natural aptitude for music. They offer feisty high action sets with skill, commitment, and individuality. You have my heart Nomads.

Fokofpolisiekar feels like home. A festival would not be a festival without these 5 members on stage. They are polished, confident in each other and a huge amount of understanding resides in their performance. It should be,  they have been honing their skill for years,  they know their crowds by now, they comprehend the intense dynamics of what it takes to make a show work. More important than that they appreciate the process and the flow between crowd and musician. Huge amount respect for these guys that still after all this time, commit to not only us, the fans, but their music. Every time ‘Ek Skyn (Heilig)’ echoes throughout a festival ground, my whole being resided in a happy state.

Sunday

This is why you should wake up, grab a coffee (or beer)  and make sure you go support the acts on Sundays. Forget how tired you are, put aside your hangover and make a point of showing up.

I was excited to see Bongeziwe Mabandla in front of the mic for the first time. He’s been making huge waves in the scene and Up the Creek is the start of a great tour for him. Comprehension flooded my body why as he opened up his mouth and delivered vocals dripping with emotion and fire. His whole demeanor displays an engaging timbre and although I do not understand the lyrics, they are highly emotive. Watch this space, this man is going to achieve great things in the industry.

Bongeziwe Mabandla by Lupa Media

Lucy Kruger equals a  transcendent experience. In a way, I almost feel possessive when she starts to strum her guitar and she breathes the vocals into the summer air.  I want everyone to keep quiet, stop what they are doing and just drown in her magical voice.  Her indulgent lyrics tied to the musical genius of the Lost Boys leaves only place for perfection. Her ending off with ‘Winter’ tempted my tears to fall down.

I wrap up my review with the following closing statement. The weather wasn’t perfect for a festival, but we needed the water more than anything else.  In the end, the rain added to the ambiance of the whole weekend. Never did I wait longer for the bathroom than 10 minutes, perhaps my timing was on par, but I classify this as winning. Yes, I could have had a more prominent amount of water in my shower stream on Sunday morning, but I didn’t die and still, I stepped out of the shower clean. Added to this, we have to remember we are in a drought, I can personally say not every Creeker took a 2-minute shower as requested by Up the Creek staff.

Yes, my rage ratio was tested to get a tent pen into the ground, but my tent was pitched and didn’t move one mm during my stay. The walk from my tent to the stage was a breeze considering other festivals I’ve been to. The bar staff was friendly, yes perhaps there could have been more of them, but those that were there really worked their asses off to serve us Creekers and keep us happy. Cleaning ladies moved me, they had such huge smiles and friendly faces the whole time, I salute you.

The hesitation about Howler I made no secret of, but I am so lucky I was so wrong. It was easy, a revelation to walk cashless and no issues presented itself. Well done Up the Creek for incorporating this. The line up included loads of new faces and yes, we missed some of the old faces. The music industry is huge, we need to give other talents the chance to share their music with us, to connect with us and to leave us wanting more.

All and all, I go for the music, to discover new talent, to find new bands and to watch old bands that have grown old with my soul. Either way, it is about the music and according to me, Up the Creek, you fed at least my musical soul enough to leave me wanting to return to the Creek in 2019. I thank you kindly.

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