A different kind of beast: Oppikoppi Bewilderbeast
My back hurts, my head is sore, my legs feel like jelly and my lungs are heaving dust. But I don't really care. It was all for the crazy surreal awesomeness of Oppikoppi Bewilderbeast, which took place at the Oppikoppi Farm in Northam, Limpopo this past weekend.
Day 1 - Getting there
5:45 pm: We leave the house all packed and ready to go. Great. A Land Cruiser and RAV4 packed to the rafters and lots of beer.
7:00pm: We miss a turn and drive through Marikana. I don't want to die! Ok, it's not that bad, but the ominous John Williams soundtrack playing on Classic FM is fitting... We are never letting the dude from Bloem navigate ever again. Dirt roads. Blegh.
9:00pm: We stop in Northam for ice. It's a pillow of ice. Fellow camper breaks it on the ground and it spills all over. Is this just a caution that we shouldn't be doing this?
9:30pm: Finally arrive at the farm. Dust filters into my lungs. Oh dear. Here we go.
10:30pm: Camp is set up. We colonise a huge space for our 20-odd member campsite. We run our car batteries down and set up a fire. The wind is hellish. This is going to be one hell of a weekend.
Day 2 - Getting wasted
2:15am: Getting to bed is awesome. We have a 'palace', as our friends call it. A huge tent with a stretcher bed and cupboards. Winning.
4:45am: We realise the rain cover has blown off our tent. Damn this wind! Pegging the cover back on isn't fun in this cold.
8:00am: Wake up and it's a lazy day. More friends arrive and set up camp. The wind blows over our gazebo. Breakfast is most welcome. Along with breakfast beer.
10:00am: The main stage site is open and we go to put some money on our Oppikoppi money cards. Water is needed. The bands start playing. A dude runs around with an umbrella handing out Fizzers and hugs. Awesome.
12:00am: We watch a few bands and bake in the sun until someone mentions lunch and we head back to the campsite. We laze around drinking. A few randoms come through the campsite marvelling at our colonisation skills.
6:00pm: An impromptu interview with kidofdoom ends up being a conversation after four years of not seeing each other. I lose my torch while drummer Johan Auriacombe fixes his snare drum. "I've taken to breaking these things recently. Fuck."
8:00pm: CrashCarBurn play an epic set, including 'Birthday Card' from their Tweak days. They've grown immensely and have just got better and better.
9:00pm: kidofdoom rip up the stage and fling us the greatest instrumental music ever. I dance my feet off.
10:45pm: The bar is full and my head is spinning. A few guys start singing '99 Bottles of Beer' and we join in. We hear that Jack Parow has been arrested. Wahahahahahaha! Now what?
11:00pm: Dan Patlansky plays and I swear he has traded his soul to the Devil for his talent. He's amazing. Definitely the best guitarist in South Africa.
12:15pm: Head back to the campsite with a headache. Someone stuck a pole into my foot and I'm limping around like a wounded deer waiting to be shot. A warm fire and a Panado later, I'm catching some shut-eye.
Day 3 - Getting silly
04:00am: Wake up to the sounds of a neighbour chundering. Oh, Oppi. I love you.
8:45am: Breakfast time. More friends arrive. This time with a couch. I promptly pass out with a naartjie in hand. Glad nobody's drawn on my face. Silliness prevails as we all catch up and talk until we realise the bands have started.
11:30am: I am addicted to corn dogs. I taste one and buy another. This is how you get fat at festivals, people.
2:00pm: We drink more as Red Huxley play. Perfect backdrop to an afternoon of silly. People are playing drinking games and I decide to go to the Red Bull stage. I promptly fall flat on my face.
4:00pm: Dinner time and getting warm. Layers is how you survive Oppikoppi's cold. I layer up and the rain cover blows off again as I change. A couple of duded walk by and started singing Seth MacFarlane's We Saw Your Boobs. You can't get angry. I laugh it off.
6:00pm: The Koos Kombuis tribute show is fantastic. He's a legend in South African music, and we dance to Johnny Is Nie Dood Nie and a friend flashes her boobs. Twice. The friend whose shoulders she is on is not impressed that he missed this sight.
7:00pm: Matthew Mole is amazing. There's a reason he debuted at the top of the iTunes charts. He's got this beautiful, humble simplicity to him in music that sounds so honest and sweet. I love him.
8:00pm: We play beer pong and my friend wins a torch. The rest of us suck. Zakes Bantwini brings together a crowd and I finally learn what 'twerking' really is.
8:45pm: A couple of dudes steal a hay bale from God knows where and roll it up to the koppi. They promptly get bust and are told by security to roll it back to where they found it.
9:00pm: Finley Quay, the very odd musician from Scotland begins and I am transported back to the '90s. He's got a unique performance style and the vibe is so great.
10:00pm: Shadowclub are fantastic. Their new stuff is great and I like the fact that they've slowed it down a bit with some ballads.
10:15: A dude with a penis drawn on his face kisses me on the cheek, transferring the badly-drawn penis to my face. Ag, nee man!
11:00pm: I'm cold as Die Heuwels Fantasties play. Their energy is not enough to keep me awake. I need rest. That tumble took it out of me.
Day 4 - Getting lucky
2:00am: So much for sleep. A camp fire is roaring and biscuits and tea are in order after all that booze. We hear that Parow played. I'm bummed. What a PR fail.
8:00am: I've now lost a torch, a shoe, a phone charger and a towel. Oh well. Breakfast. My cousin strolls in having been lost for hours. Silly.
9:45am: I drop my phone into a glass of vodka. This is what you get for drinking before midday, I guess.
1:00pm: Breakfast turned into lunch and a girl a friend hooked up with comes to our campsite looking for him. So much for never seeing her again...
2:00pm: Nakane Toure is one of the best discoveries of this year as his beautiful voice fills the air at the top bar. He's just stunning. There's no better way to start the afternoon. His voice is almost angelic, and his humility makes him a very deserving and untainted artist. He says he's humbled by the response to his music. I just think he's the best.
3:00pm: Time to dance my face off with The Anti-Retro Vinyls. What a blast! They're energy and more energy times 10 with catchy riffs, punk style and Ramones-esque madness.
4:00om: ShortStraw never fail to impress me and get me on my feet. I walk into the bar and run out, drink in hand to dance. The sun setting, I'm called for interviews.
6:00pm: I miss Toya and Robert DeLong, unfortunately, but hear they were great. I'm waiting for Yellowcard and Deftones to arrive for our interviews. The crowd is building for something epic at the dome stage.
7:00pm: Still waiting and Mango Groove begin. I say 'screw it' and run to see them. I dance until my feet hurt. This is such an emotional experience. Mango Groove, one of the pioneers of South African music, who stood up against apartheid, had a 20 000-strong crowd singing and dancing to every single song. That was the whole of Oppiloppi there watching them. Claire Johnston can't help but be emotional. I start crying as they play Moments Away. The whole crowd sings as she looks on, stunned by the love. This is an amazing moment in Oppi history.
7:50pm: Yellowcard's Ryan Mendez and I have a little chat as Mango Groove end their set. We talk about classical music, Lord of the Rings and he says he hopes the crowd is that big for their set. Haha! I don't have the heart to tell him they'll have about half of whoever was there for Mango Groove.
8:45: Deftones time. I interview keyboardist Frank Delgado and bassist Sergio Vega. They chat about making music and the death of bandmate Chi Cheng. It's slightly emotional and personal.
9:00pm: The Narrow give us a taste of the party to come as they rip through hits that the entire crowd sings along to. I have never seen a mosh pit so huge at Oppi. I hear a friend has found someone random and they are now making out. At least he may get lucky.
10:00pm: Yellowcard are impressive with their energetic set. They are amazed that so many people know the lyrics and are singing along. They are seamless and a freaking fun act on stage. Even the violinist is up to antics, playing like his life depends on it. Such fervour!
11:00pm: The moment I have been waiting for. Deftones. They play a one-and-half hour set and don't let up on the energy. The sound sucked a bit, but we don't care. Chino Moreno goes into the crowd. He's met with screams and I swear I see a girl fall over. I watch from the side. The mosh pit is too crazy for me. Another life dream fulfilled.
Day 5 - Getting home
2:00am: Back at the campsite and I've walked into a hole, a mesh wire and bust my lip.
4:45am: I need a drink. Can't sleep. Can't believe it's all over.
8:30am: Wake up and pack up. Friend rolls into the campsite having got some. Winning. Well, for him, at least.
10:00am: Take the alternate route and run into a chalk mine where the guards want a bribe for a map. The alternate route sucks. Dirt road into the wilderness. At least it's not Marikana.
2:00pm: KFC time. And a clean, real toilet. Screw portaloos.
4:00pm: Home and shower. That feels amazing. Great to be home and back to civilisation after four days of mania. But I already miss the farm and as I wash the dirt out of my hair and pick the thorns off my clothes, I count down the days until the next Oppikoppi.