Review by Elmarie Kruger (@elmariekr)
As the sun rose over Northam on 5 August 2016, this little Limpopo community readied itself for an influx of music fans and partygoers as the 22nd instalment of the beloved OppiKoppi Festival kicked off with its usual fanfare.
Koppi is known for its scorching days and freezing nights, but even the looming cold weather couldn’t scare off Koppi veterans and virgins alike as they flooded through the festival gates, eager for one of SA’s annual musical highlights to begin.
The Motherland was the act to open the main stage on Friday morning, and the band’s folk-inspired sound (along with their new track “By the Water”) was well-received by dedicated festivalgoers who got the festival off to an early start.
The Bruilof Stage is always a hub of budding talent, and this year the acts on this stage did not disappoint. Friday saw artists like the spunky The Ts & Cs, the old school-inspired Hellcats and the eclectic Boargazm all shook that stage up.
We were (mis)guided into the first official Koppi 2016 sunset by the gutsy sounds of the ever-shrewd Satanic Dagga Orgy, who brought some (inflatable) friends onto the stage with them, and provided the crowd with some educational backing visuals on the James Phillips stage’s screen.
The Narrow blew the main stage crowd away on Friday night with their hit “Lonely Lonely”, which was followed by Bittereinder’s much-anticipated set. The legendary Afrikaans rap-rock trio are famous for their explosive live sets, and their Koppi performance was definitely a highlight for all. The group played all their crowd favourite hits, including “Kwaad Naas”, “Die Dinkdansmasjien” and “Die Berge Brand”. The evening continued at the Red Bull Stage and the Klein Bar after Bittereinder since the concept of time at Oppkoppi is a strange thing…
Saturday morning’s wake-up-and-wet-wipe routine proved to be challenging for those who went hard the previous night, but those who had managed to drag themselves out of their tents by the early afternoon were treated to Shortstraw’s 28th instalment of their Boosh event: OppiBoosh. Featured were a wide range of musicians, including Adelle Nqeto, Gangsterdam, Tidal Waves and Shortstraw themselves, who drew a massive crowd to the Bruilof Stage.
Later on Saturday evening, festivalgoers were entertained by the likes of the charismatic Riky Rick, Grassy Spark and The Kiffness. aKing enchanted the crowd with hits like “Against All Odds” and “Safe as Houses”, after which a cluster of fans crowded the main stage area to watch Fokofpolisiekar’s electric set – which was ended off by “Soetslaap Sonder Sonde” like a lullaby for all the fans.
The last day of the festival is always met with early Sunday blues, as everyone knows (but won’t say it too loudly) that it’s the final day of the amazing festival. The excitement, however, was far from over, as Strait Jackal, Sutherland, Fever Dogs, Medicine Boy and Go Barefoot were but some of the artists who kept crowds entertained throughout the day. As the evening drew near, fans grew excited to watch the likes of Petite Noir and Jack Parow, who played all his hits and then some, including “Cooler As Ekke”, “I Miss” and “Hard Partytjie Hou”.
Oppikopp’s last night also means international acts, and this year’s international line-up did not disappoint. Folk-rapper Yelawolf spat his freshest rhymes at the eager crowd, after which August Burns Red brought their “angry music for happy people” to the James Phillips Stage. This was followed by the ever-popular Kongos, who performed fan favourites such as “Come with Me Now”, “I’m Only Joking” and “Take it from Me”.
“Meet me at the Klein Bar to greet me” – for a last shot of Cuervo, or a last skoffel to DJ Bob’s set. For some festival fans the party wasn’t over until the bartenders said so.
This years festival boasted some of the most amazing talent South Africa has on offer – from magical musical acts like Bongeziwe Mabandla, to a two-piece like Hellcats where the stage seems too small for their performance. We had the opportunity to enjoy the amazing Sawagi from Japan, who loved the festival as much as any Oppikoppi Virgin could. As festivalgoers loosened their tents from their moorings in The Unsea, they sailed away in their bakkies and hatchbacks followed by a feeling of excitement for the great acts and the blurred – yet valuable – memories this year’s Koppi will bring.