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I had an Unknown Brother situation on my hands long before I reached Oppikoppi 2011.
Driving past Hartebeespoort dam with Paul Ward, Craig Stack, Dan Nash and Simon I-button-my-shirt-along-the-wrong-button-holes all chirping behind me, you couldn’t have expected a more diverse mash-up of hooligans to bond at the snap of two fingers.
My excitement at popping my Koppi cherry is something that I’ll never be able to explicitly detail but I will tell you this, I would never have survived camping in Mordor which, on a good day, you hear people refer to as District 9. Thanks to a little tequila called Jose Cuervo though, I was fortunate enough to stay in the Kreef Hotel and basically, not have a care in the world. Perks of the accommodation? A hot shower, a functioning toilet, a hot breakfast each morning and oh, a bedside table. You know, just in case.
Friday starts off well enough, and while we explore our surroundings, Paul hits us with his well-earned linguistic advice. “If anybody asks me anything in Afrikaans, I’m going to reply with either ‘Ja nee’ or ‘Oppikoppi’.” My vampiric skin and I spend most of the afternoon on the Cuervo Deck soaking up the view of the Main Stage and familiarising ourselves with the specific locations of each bar.
I remember no bands before Isochronous, as their set properly kicks off my Koppi. As Richard Brokensha stands before me, with the face of a Lost Boy and a voice straight out of a fairytale, I fall, like I do every time. Not even Ef-eL’s ‘Sing My Net Aan Die Slaap’ or Fuzigish’s energetic set down memory lane can top Richard sweetly belting, “Where is my Beauty Queeeen?”
Later, after passing out on a melodic high, I wake up not being able to feel my fingers, toes or lips. I’ve been warned about the Koppi cold but naturally, I don’t listen. I end up sleeping in two sleeping bags because the chick I’m supposed to be sharing a tent with hasn’t pitched – score.
In the morning my tent smells like a pondock. So do my clothes. I ain’t happy. I head to the bar for some much needed liquid protection/comfort. Five minutes into brekkie and Albert Frost waltzes onto a tiny raised platform (a stage??) with Robert Nagel. Harpdog Frost babeee. Their blues tunes tear through the tent and Robert’s stinging harmonica melodies force everyone to wake the hell up.
I’m smashing eggs and gin in my face and Christina Storm is reading page 3 next to me.
First Mainstage act, Haggis & Bong christen the bitch in all their Celtic-inspired metal glory. With blue paint smeared all over his face, the lead bagpipe dude looks like Mel Gibson circa Braveheart. Bassist Xavier Knox is losing his shit like he’s a Scotsman after a bottle or five of whiskey. I just want to know if there’s anything under those kilts.
Red Huxley are surprising, Mr Cat & the Jackal are spellbinding, Holiday Murray were better on the Friday at the MK stage. For the rest of the day, I indulge in too much Cuervo and klap myself when I realise I’ve missed half of Bittereinder’s set. I get the tail end. Jaco van der Merwe is a god. His rhymes are haunting and raw and the heavy bass of their beats gives me goosebumps. “Pretoria in my hart.” It can’t get any better, can it?
En cue Not My Dog.
The Bruilhof Stage belongs to them. They should just rename it The Not My Dog Stage. Hanu de Jong’s dirty voice pierces through the dust clouds rising in the icy air as he bounds from one side of the stage to another, sucking the life and voices out of his mosh-pit following. He vocalises my sentiments against anything untoward – “Voetsek, we don’t need you.” I fall again. Richard who? Afterwards, Desmond & the Tutus and their Locnville-loving drummer go all-out, but I’m still on a NMD high. The 12 o’clock slot makes us chose between Zebra & Gazelle, but the Deck won out in the end.
Later, perched on a rock wearing one of Natalie Roos’ 10 fur coats, I’m watching Van Coke Kartel and I’m belting out lyrics that, in the few years that VCK have been in existence, have tattooed themselves onto my heart. Jaco might be a god, but Francois Van Coke is hands down the best front man in this country. True story. I pass out.
Sunday presents a problem for me. I’m told by Brett “the maestro” Schewitz that it’s the biggest and best day of Koppi. And I’m almost passed my limit. Sonja Myburgh, Michael Ellis (who happens to have turned 21 overnight), Craig and myself drag ourselves over to The NMD Stage where Cape Town’s representing via Saintfearless – the band that’s only performing at Koppi because they won that Facebook poll.
Well, well, well. Saintgoddamfearless. Even though they started off a little rough, front man Kieron Brown managed to get people swinging, singing and super amped to listen to the first band of the day. The buzz afterwards is a little manic. I couldn’t be prouder of a band I know have toiled to finally get recognition on this kind of scale. I also think the band members were collectively propositioned sexually about fifty dozen times.
Between drinks, Wrestlerish’s new single ‘Bodies of Water’ translates beautifully live, Dan Patlansky’s skills on his guitar are so good, he makes drummers look bad, and the lyrical prose that rolls off Tumi Molekane’s tongue is delicate and meaningful and is aided spectacularly on guitar by my future ex-husband Tiago Paulo. My homie, Angela Weickl and I stand, mesmerized.
But it was David Kramer who summed up Koppi for me. Playing a set that consisted mainly of colabs (including Michelle Shocked, Tamara Dey, Karen Zoid, Jack Parow, Die Heuwels Fantasties etc) the one he did with Frannie had the man standing next to me in tears. The dude was crying big manly chunking sobs that he wiped away with his dusty paws. 30 JAAR OppiPLANKE. I don’t think I’ll ever really understand how much his set meant to so many.
Back to the sanctuary/madness of the Deck where things appear to have gone tits up. And as The Used (almost 45 minutes late thanks to a sound problem) belt out ‘Pretty Handsome Awkward’ nobody sees the irony of Locnville being on the Deck. Somebody says Bert McCracken looks and sounds like a girl as Elisma Roets and Andrew Rich arrive in all their glory. Andrew seizes the first opportunity to appoint himself “Loggenvile’s” manager.
Die Antwoord are such a fail. I shall not waste any of your time with details. Sum41 play ‘In Too Deep’ and as I gaze at my surroundings/company, I tend to agree. After three encores the music ends with Deryck Wibley telling Koppi how much he loves them. Aguilera and I klap a few shots and as The Wedding DJs begin to play, I remember my maestro’s wise words – PARTY, TOP BAR.
Next thing I’m dancing on a table. I see trannies around me. Henno Kruger and Christo de Beer are looking at me like I’m a legend – or a freak – by this time I’ve had too many shots to tell the difference. Jean Jordaan’s swaying from side-to-side to the dodgy playlist – or to the music in his head – again I’ve had too many shots to tell. Jedd Kossew instructs me to order, “a double something and whatever,” while Phil Erasmus is doing some kinda monkey move in the tree. The whites of Frannie’s eyes have been replaced by a murky redness and in between all this, Sipho Hlongwane starts asking me questions about my undercut.
Who knows what time I got to bed. Who knows what time I woke up. Who knows what time I packed my bag. But what I do know is that by 11:30, we were in an air-conditioned vehicle getting the hell outta dodge. Designated driver and chaperone Rudi Cronje asks me how I’m doing and I can’t reply because my voice is gone. He seems pleased with himself.
On our way out we pass a tent in the middle of a thorn bush and I start playing the “what if” game with myself. What if that was my tent? I’d rather not think about it.
Oppikoppi 2012? Jy weet mos.
All pics courtesy of Paul Ward.