Opinion Review

Oppikoppi 2012 – Bittersweet Symphony

It’s 9am on Wednesday morning and I’m still drunk. DJ Invisible looks equally as screwed – he’s just one in a bunch of highly unlikely Cape-To-Koppians that have descended upon Cape Town station.

26 hours is a long time to be on any sort of journey with a bunch of delinquents.

So how do you klap that time? Our recipe: 2 bottles of Jose Cuervo, 2 bottles of whiskey, a shite load of beer and a few other unmentionables.

Next thing you know Cabin C (aka “Crayola”) is a recording studio with some ex-Idols contestant busting out U2/Parlotones “hits” and the guys from AVA loving second of it with their cameras. Rob Coutts looks appalled. I want everyone to get the fuck out so I can sleep. Roger Young makes this impossible by stumbling into our cabin and throwing up, just a little, on himself.

After re-enacting Jack’s death scene in ‘Titanic’ during the night, I wake to find I’ve defrosted in a slither of morning sun. Drunken shrieks are replaced by an eerie silence as we all count the hours to Krugersdorp. Turns out we get a bus driver who’s super unhinged and it works in our favour as we arrive. He doesn’t wait in the queue of cars. Oh no. He bypasses all the law-abiders and drops us right in front. “Cheers bitches, enjoy your walk.”

It’s just passed 6pm and I’m grumpy as hell because I’ve missed Shortstraw, The Make-Overs and Spoegwolf. And I’m lugging a suitcase on wheels through a good few centimetres of dust like a real doos. I can hear The Black Cat Bones’ Kobus and his throaty growl cut through the dusty chill in the air. Jean Jordaan sneaks up behind me and I bite his head off.

The only person who knows what I need at this point is Chris Maider. He hands me a full hipflask as I entire the Kreef hotel reception. I make my way immediately over to The Cuervo Deck to regroup. I’m questioned about the train ride up. It’s too soon to talk about it.

I stock up on some much needed liquid protection before sliding down the hill for Southern Gypsey Queen’s 10 year anniversary set. The photographers’ pit is a who’s who. Henno KrugerRavi Panchia. Sean Brand. I see Brett Schwepps moving casually around. A few songs in and the lights at this year’s new stage, Wesley’s Dome, cut out. Gareth Wilson (vox, guitar) chucks tshirts into the crowd to appease the masses. He attempts to dazzles them with his wayward grin. It works. The 7 time Koppi rockers are in their element. Even their mother’s front and centre. They close with a lullaby-like, teary-eyed moment courtesy of the lead singer of Jacob “Zakes” Wulana from Tidal Waves.


Over at James Phillips Main Stage, Taxi Violence is warming up but Bingo and his angle-grinder have the powers that be looking scared. I hear later that they were afraid the thatched roof of the stage would catch alight so they pulled the plug on the grinder. Idiots. Bingo reciprocates by pulling out a giant strap on dildo and parading around while George Van Der Spuy’s belting ‘Living It Up’.

iScream and the Chocolate Stix and Goldfish were both absent from the Koppi line-up but luckily they sent their love child, The Kiffness to represent. I choose Shadowclub over them but the trio are about as exciting as the goings on in the media area. Bittereinder have the first real “moment” of the festival. Their chunky bass beats have people bouncing in unison and Jaco Van Der Merwe works the 15 000 strong crowd like a seasoned pro.


In the right hand corner, Beast is preparing to tear Bruilhof a new one. Inge Beckmann’s looking a little worse for wear, but no matter, she’s on fire. This woman is untouchable. International quality. Sheer class. A 3 octave vocal range. You will never in a million years be this talented. Yes, you. I hear Pestroy in the corner and I’m drawn to it but by this time I’m seeing three of everything so I opt out.

I wake up and I’m wearing clothes that don’t belong to me. I score a whole new wardrobe. I zombie over to Kreef for breakfast but my scrambled eggs are laced with shells and so I decline. I make a mission to the Ray Ban Rock Star Village (aka Little Bellville) to visit Riordan Allen who’s shooting a Koppi documentary and I’m hit by several unwanted flashbacks. I spend the morning recovering on The Deck.

Shotgun Tori gets a decent crowd gathered in front of the Main Stage at lunch time. She looks incredibly uneasy but engages well. Two-piece White Stripe wannabes, Bombay Showpig are curious. Singles ‘Sancho Panza’ and ‘Shackles and Chains’ go down well, or should I say Linda van Leeuwen (vox, drums, samples, keys) does. I glance over at Motheo Moleko and I see their unborn children in his eyes.

At 4pm, with no competition on any other stage, Jeremy Loops has the best timeslot of the day. He starts solo, centre-stage. It doesn’t take long for his boyish charm to win most over. As he begins to construct ‘Gypsey Opera’, people around me are going ape. Big things in store for this guy, huge. I spot Andrew Winer, half-clothed, trying to slip past pit security to get closer to The Loopster. I heard he succeeded.


A flawless, expressionistic BLK JKS set makes me forget to question the inclusion of Thieve at this festival. Subsequently, aKING sees a few tears being shed – you cannot compete with musical nostalgia. Not even the horrendous Main Stage sound can deter me. I hear Babylon Circus begin from The Deck and a Koppi veteran tells me that if I don’t see this 10 piece French ska/reggae band, I will regret it. I make a mission and by the end of their set I’m asking people if I can bum “la cigarette”. On a high from The Circus, Desmond & the Tutus are a massive anti-climax.

Over at Skellum, Toya DeLazy is living up to the stage’s name by lip-syncing. I couldn’t care less though as 340ml have me transfixed. Devotees are tearing their hair out for ‘Midnight’ and as per usual Pedro Da Silva Pinto doesn’t look too impressed but in the end, he caves. Dub-coated beats at their best. “I’ve been thinking about scoriiiing…”

Fokofpolisiekar transform the dusty playground of Wesley’s into a religious experience. All hail meneer Johnny de Ridder, the mighty. Frannie doesn’t even need to sing his songs. Two words is more than enough. The crowd does the rest. Shaun Morgan joins them on ‘Ek Skyn (Heilig)’ and it’s more a collaborative wank than anything else.

By Saturday the dust has reached levels of insanity forcing me to use wet wipes as tissues. Peachy Keen rock their unfortunate timeslot on the Main Stage while Black Handed Kites butcher theirs. Word on the farm is that no one knows where Eagles of Death Metal are but Jesse Hughes eventually struts out onstage. His chops as a frontman are consummate – just the right amount of hillbilly swagger to entertain without being too preachy. The crowd feels his love. Someone throws an EODM t-shirt onto stage. Hughes is visibly moved: “Y’all made this for me??”


Over at Wesley’s Enter Shikari are phenomenal. Their onstage energy is boundless. They’re like lightning bolts on acid. They’re climbing up the stage-side scaffolding, shoving things into each other. They’re a visual treat. I convince myself this is as good as it’ll get and I begrudgingly mission back to the safety of The Deck for KONGOS. People are unusually happy to see them and they’re unusually happy to be back. This is all very short-lived however as a remedial sound problem on the Main Stage pushes everyone back 45 minutes. The Used deja vu? Things don’t really get any better for them apart from a sick cover of ‘Gin ‘n Juice’ that they rock with Jack Parow.


Seether open with ‘Gasoline’ and I wish that someone would hand me a match. I try to sell Darryl Torr on Bullet For My Valentine with my special rendition of ‘All These Things I Hate’ but it’s no use. Until they bust out the opening chords of our national anthem, that is. Funny thing patriotism.

Later, Shotgun Tori sheds a tear on my shoulder for her stolen phone while Alan Shenton explains to me where he thinks he might have “stuck” his. And as I wolf down a few shooters at the Top Bar, a random wearing a furry panda hood tells me Diplo is enjoying himself immensely in the “african savanahh”.

I’m packed and ready to go at 9:00am. I pass DJ Sideshow and I can barely acknowledge her as she says cheers. I pile into a car with Craig Stack and Mike Joubert. Talk Radio’s Top 100 Golden Oldies provides our soundtrack. The ride to Lanseria is much longer than I remember it being.

I spare a thought for the people on the train ride back.

And then I laugh.

All pics courtesy of Brett Schewitz.