Feature Opinion

20 Best Sets From Oppikoppi 2017, Part 1

The lead up to this year’s Oppikoppi Festival was not without its challenges, including a date change and some severe social media scrutiny. However it’s always going to be about the music at the end of the day and with over 130 acts having graced over 7 stages, we broke down who left the best impressions and why.

Hellcats

The Hellcats have been upgraded to the James Philips stage this year. It’s foul language, gritty rock and hilarity from start to finish. Drummer/vocalist Alessandro Benigno manages to break the bass drum just a few songs into their set. The infamous duo is also joined for a few tracks by Pestroy’s Shane Forbes for the purest rock ‘n’ roll set of the weekend. – Stian Martiz

MOONGA K.

It’s early Saturday morning and I’m anything but fresh but MOONGA K. is hitting some ridiculously high notes, engaging with the crowd and wielding a level of skill far beyond his 21 years of age. He smacks us sideways with a pitch-perfect cover of ‘Redbone’ and introduces us to a rapper Tazna Slater who spits fire on one uplifting track. –  Tecla Ciolfi

Moonchild

Moonchild lights up the Red Bull stage with a bewitching set. Her brand of future ghetto funk is blissfully free of convention with writhing melodies, broken beats and the charisma of a natural born entertainer. While many draw closer to dance and bask in her mystery others simply sit, transfixed. – Stian Martiz

Mafikizolo

This set pulls no punches starting with career highlights ‘Ndihamba Nawe’ and ‘Udakwa Njalo’. And as Nhlanhla Nciza’s green tule skirt sways from side-to-side, we stomp in the dust and raise our hands to welcome the pouring rain. I’m shouting at the girl next to me to translate and she willingly obliges. As this set tapers off into the chilly night air, ‘Khona’, ‘Love Potion’ and ‘Happiness’ continue to hang over us as we sing their name long into the next day. Probably the best set I’ve ever seen at Oppikoppi. –  Tecla Ciolfi

Fuzigish

It’s the return of ska punk heroes Fuzigish and they’re making every moment count. Main stage is pounded with punk beat after punk beat as they blast out the classics with a few new tunes thrown in. The energy and wanton abandon of their delivery makes the material feel fresh as ever rather than that of a bygone era. – Stian Martiz

Van Pletzen

“Dis tyd om te party!” Van Pletzen tells us as he takes a sip from his shot glass filled to the brim with Jager. Flanked by Makkie & later, P.E.-based rapper Early B Music for a few tracks, this set is a kak lekker jol from beginning to end. Highlights include a funky rendition of Early B’s ‘Lekker Djy’ and an interlude courtesy of ‘Mi Gente’/‘Voodoo Song’. –  Tecla Ciolfi

Beat Sampras

Beat Sampras has perfected the combo of electronic and hip hop accompanied by shreddy jazz guitar licks. They put their ever-stylish spin on both a Kendrick Lamar tune and Brenda Fassie’s ‘Weekend Special’ while still maintaining a laid-back aesthetic. They are, quite simply, impossibly cool. – Stian Martiz

Academie

This set is world class, an amalgamation of multiple instruments and tempos controlled brilliantly by Jean-Louise Parker and her husband Alex Parker. Jean-Louise’s vocals and stance smack of Imogen Heap circa Frou Frou, pristine and lulling. Cool-coloured lighting dances against serene onscreen settings and their inclusion of the Horizons Project Choir adds a welcome choral dynamic, lightening the mood. –  Tecla Ciolfi

Black Cat Bones

The Black Cat Bones choose the main stage at Oppi for the last stop on their 10th year anniversary tour. Kobus De Kock Jr. preaches as much as he sings and the band is given a touch of grandeur from the addition of several musicians on stage. Meanwhile bassist Chris Thundervolt runs to and fro like the maniac we all know him to be, daring us to keep up with him. They are the masters in the field of the blues ballad, tugging at our drunken heartstrings in a fitting performance for a decade-long passion. – Stian Martiz

Medicine Boy

The celestial trajectories of synth and guitar can only signal the start of Medicine Boy’s set. Under pulsating violet lights they paint with a palette of darkness, creating somber beauty for a willfully hypnotized crowd. Hezron Chetty joins them for a few songs and as always is worth a mention as he adds yet another layer of otherworldly melody to their spectacular repertoire. For the niche they have carved for themselves they are simply untouchable. – Stian Martiz

Check out 20 Best Sets From Oppikoppi 2017, Part 2.

Read our interview with Flume backstage at Oppikoppi.