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I arrive at the gates to the belly of the BewilderBeast and I’m already pissed.
Luckily my Cray Kings have my back as we organise ourselves at Kreef.
Traipsing through a soon-to-be crime scene, I spot Corne sans Twakkie. He looks sad so I give him a giant *lick*. Atop the Koppi at the Ray-Ban Stage, Justin Serrao abuses his acoustic to the screeches of faithfuls while I realise this festival don’t stock no shooters.
Down at Bruilhof, pop-rock crooner Michael “Ladykiller” Lowman, takes tentatively to the stage to sing songs about “love and Chris Bez”. For a band that’s only played one gig together, it’s a solid set. Highlight: their single
‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’ ‘Your Lovin’ Ain’t Right For Me’.
Over on James Philips Main Stage CrashCarBurn is on fire (har har), save for a few screw ups on their drummer’s part. They even throw in a killer rendition of ‘Birthday Card’ while the girl next to me screams, “HOUSE PARTY IN MY PANTS”. Fabian Sing (lead guitar/backing vox) also lends a blatant punk-esque edge to their set, which sets him apart. Later, Garth Barnes (vox/guitar) dedicates ‘Get Up And Fly’ to Garth McLeod and Paul Wilson. Gone but never forgotten.
Shortstraw’s set on the RB Stage is packed tighter than a R99 sale at YDE. And as three girls in front of me desecrate a bench to ‘Coach Potato’, I leave in search of the answer to “What is a Drop The Lime?”
Back down the hill and the sweet sounds of Dan Patlansky come wafting from Wesley’s Dome. 17 000 watch in awe as the icon makes his guitar moan and I worship alongside them at his altar of blues-rock. Meanwhile, Black Cat Bones deliver a face-melting, panty-twisting rock set, as Facing The Gallows struggle against Patlansky in the background. Back on Wesley, Fokof play their annual set to appease their religious following. But what’s this? A new song?? “Ons doen dit vir die fok.” Alright then.
I tear my eyes open mid-morning and scramble around for my dignity. It’s lying around my tent in shreds. Jakkals kick things off on JP but their lead singer’s vocals take strain under the elements. Back at RB and Bongeziwe Mabandla’s urban folk lifts spirits and bodies of all creeds and colours atop tables. Then, acoustic folk-pop duo Flint Meet Spark make me weep like a small child and halfway through their second encore, MC Dan Apter has to call it quits because they’re outta songs.
Back to Kreef to decant before Gangs Of Ballet take to JP. The buzz around their Koppi debut is palpable and warranted. It’s a shaky start thanks to the dead moments in between songs. Luckily it’s just a case of “You say Oppi, I say Koppi” before Brad Klynsmith (vox/guitar) hooks his hearers. “Never mind Mr iTunes, have you seen these okes??” Yes I have, and they’re bonafide stars.
Still on a GOB high, I saunter over to the Media Area. My attempt at recharging my batteries ends in a DMC with one half of Locnville about their new tunes. Someone produces a Valpre bottle filled with Cuervo and the next thing I know I’m at Shadowclub. Sweet, sweet Shadowclub. The trio throw down one of the sets of the festival with ample new material and a cover of Nirvana’s ‘Breed’ to end all covers. What they’re still doing in this country, I’ll never know.
As Matthew Mole bolts past me in a Panda Onesie, things start becoming less and less conducive. I meet the head (??) of iTunes SA and he asks me if he should go see Jack Parow to which I reply, “HELL YES”. He leaves 3 songs in. That fail of a Captain Morgan publicity stunt aside, Jack Parow’s set is disturbing and is redeemed by a Rufio Vegas “Zim Zala Bim” rap colab. I kid not.
My intense disappointment is curbed at the Top Bar. My Cray Kings have recreated a warped Glee-esque scene to cheesy ‘80s hits and Jean Jordaan is using his dust-mask as an eye-patch. After trying to explain to the bartenders that Caramel Vodka is not a shooter, our Drop The Lime mystery is solved. He flashes me his gold tooth before offering a swig outta his Jack Daniels bottle. “You think this is cold? I’m from New York.” [Coated in an epic US Twang]
Wake up… and my shakes won’t let me hold a Cream Soda can for longer than 5 seconds. Where my straw at?? I piece myself together for Beatenberg on Skellum and it’s well worth it. Their sound is rooted in Maskandi melodies with just the right amount of pristine vocal to be transverseable. You know when your crowd consists of mainly musicians and industry heavyweights that you’re doing something right.
I forsake Shortstraw for Jeremy Loops on JP, which is packed 30 minutes prior to set kick-off with diehards securing their spot. The Loopster premiers a track called ‘Higher Stakes’ (working title) that provides a welcome break in their high-energy set. Albert Frost joins in on ‘Wrote It For You’ to end things off for the crowd that is backed up the hill.
Whilst lining my stomach I hear Toya DeLazy struggling against her backing track, complete with live drums being playing over pre-recorded ones. Messy. Afterward, Tailor fails to hold my attention. It’s all about Mango Groove, who put on the set of a lifetime. Clare “Mother of the Nation” Johnson, so humble, admits: “I’ve been here as a guest a few times but this is the first time we’ve performed here as a band.” You’re shitting me?? I weep alongside everyone else as she chokes on her words, visibly moved.
Later I make sure I get a good spot for Yellowcard. No one’s gonna fuck this up for me. Ryan Key (vox/guitar) gives a shoutout to the Girl in the Grey that knows every word and then tries to get us to form some kinda weird Circle Pit. No thanks, sing me ‘Ocean Avenue’ bitch. I fall in love with their technically near-perfect drummer, Longineu W. Parsons III, and imagine the fucked up names we’d give our children. It ends too quickly and I stand staring at the stage for a good few minutes post-set.
I make the pilgrimage to Wesley for Deftones and while I’m in complete awe of Chino’s vocal prowess, I’m left feeling completely uninspired. People around me are going ape-shit. I start to think there might be something seriously wrong with me. Why am I not feeling this?? The set is grandiose, a visual marvel, but there seem to be underlying technical gremlins here and there.
Closing party up at the Top Bar where Ryan Gosling is scheduled to end off the night but the rudest of DJs won’t leave the stage. I go looking for the off switch but he finally relents.
Pass out. Wake up. Pack. Getthehellouttahere. I’m coated in multiple layers of dust that I leave a trail of all the way back to Cape Town.
Next year Oppikoppi turns 20 years old and I turn 27. Either way, it’ll be one for the history books.