Follow the Giraffe People… Avoid the dust and unearthly wails of Mordor.
Let the hairy bagpiping blokes guide you along the muddy mush of corn husks and spilled booze, past the smelly gnashing squealing unwashed masses of humanity.
Go into a tent. Make sure it’s your tent. Get out of the tent – fast, if you have to.
See Haddad and Carel, Oppi stalwarts, waltzing down the hill in their Beasty costumes.
Find the portaloo. (Follow your nose.) Escape from it as quick as you can. Wander through the sound barrier and back again, along the highways and byways and alleyways and gutters and dusty denizens of music and self-expression…
See the Power Rangers, the Nuns, Jesus and the chicks in the leopard print suits (with tails)… Tell your friend to stop perving on the chicks (with tails). And then, you’ll be a man, my son. Or a woman. Or a Bewilderbeast.
If the 19th Oppikoppi festival proved anything, it’s that despite considering myself a senior citizen (the green in my hair’s to hide the grey, okay!) of festivals in general, and quite a Girl Scout (or Voortrekker, as one friend teased me) when it comes to being prepared… I’m not immune to rookie mistakes. Such as not checking my recorder before an interview to see if it’s working properly. Forgetting sunblock. And getting roofied at Kleinbar and spending the night in the hospital tent.
Yeah, that happened. According to the medics, I was one of three lucky Oppi recipients of what they’re 99% sure was Rohypnol. How retro. I can now tick that off my bucket list. (Mom, if you’re reading this, I’M OKAY!)
I have to wonder, though, what the perp thought he was going to achieve… Surrounded by some seriously badass friends (well, I’m guessing they can be, judging by the muttered curses and threats of violence my addled brain sporadically picked up during my fight-to-the-death with the medic who tried to stick a drip in my arm), no dodgy horndog was going to be able to haul my unconscious ass down the rocky koppie into his Tent of Destiny to have his way with me. So basically, he just buggered up my Friday night and caused me to miss some epic gigs. That’s up there with stealing ISO’s trailer from the band camp – packed with R120 000’s worth of gear. Not nice people, not nice.
Bewilderbeast was a good name for this, the 19th Oppikoppi. There was a strange feeling of tension and a tinge of aggression in the air. Not something I usually pick up at Oppi. I only visit aggression on the idiots who play crap music from their car boots.
And yet, as usual… I loved it. I even loved the crunchy sounds of being wrapped in a space blanket in the hospital tent. Yes.
Here are my highlights, built around the letters in BEWILDERBEAST
E FOR EUPHORIA
What you feel when you’re part of a crowd and moving in unison: that perfect moment where the beat makes you part of a way bigger whole and you really can kiss the sky.
W FOR WEIRDNESS
There’s plenty of weird going around at Oppi. Loads of people let their freak flag fly. It’s brilliant. Some of the events are also a bit harebrained. The Ride of the Koppi Prawns springs to mind…
I FOR IMPROVISATION
Kleinbar’s poetry sessions on Friday and Saturday night blew my mind. Watching people create art from nothing in literally ten minutes, putting their unique stamp on things, improvising all the way – wow. Nova is a force to be reckoned with. Toast Coetzer is simply legendary. And my friends Johan Jack Smith and Kobus Kotzé rocked something serious. No two ways about it.
There’s also a general sense of cooperative “creation” at Oppi – people taking part in projects such as the Build Your Own Bewilderbeast station, the paper slam area, the beautiful, often surreal decorations on the stages and in the trees… It’s not just music. It’s art.
L FOR LUST
There’s lots of that going around at Oppi. Volkspeler’s sexy show featuring grinding bass beats and a sassy striptease got the crowd seriously riled up. Shadowclub was, as usual, too hot to handle. Random hook-ups and snogfests happen everywhere. Girls rock short shorts, guys go shirtless. (With varying degrees of success, obviously.) Yes, even though the dust and general Oppi fug makes things a bit, uhm, sticky. Wetwipes, children.
D FOR DANCING
To kidofdoom’s insane electro beats. To Koos Kombuis. To Cortina Whiplash. To the DJ playing Roxette’s Dangerous in the middle of the night (I swear, he plays it EVERY year). Moving (slowly) to Die See. And Andra. Dancing when you’re standing and when you’re sitting and when you think you’re asleep. That’s why your limbs are so sore right now.
E FOR ESCAPE
In other words: going back to your larney tent camp (they even had fresh lavender blooms in the girls’ bathrooms) and catching a quick shower and afternoon nap. Mordor? No more!
R FOR RECKLESS
What happens at Oppi, stays at Oppi. Go rogue. Be reckless.
B FOR BIRDS AND BEER DRONES AND BLISTERS
I’m sorry, but as a bona fide twitcher, this has to be in here. Blue waxbills! Crimson-breasted shrikes! Arrow-marked babblers! Hornbills! This is what I did when not missioning around the grounds.
The Beer Drone was also a kind of exotic bird, dropping liquid happiness on random unsuspecting heads. As for blisters… Let’s just say I won’t go jogging this week.
E FOR ERRORS
Such as leaving your drink unattended. Not wearing your hat. Or sunblock. Being too cool for a dust mask. You get the idea.
A FOR AFTERGLOW
That single perfect moment of happiness after witnessing something great.
S FOR SOUNDBYTES
Or, in other words, interviews with cool bands. Which hardly constitutes work at Oppikoppi. The best of the bunch? Getting a bit of time with Koos Kombuis. Because he’s a legend. And it was awesome getting to chat to him on the Stoep with the whole of Oppi spread out below us. And later, doing the crazy dance during the Koos Kombuis Tribute show: his last one at Oppi.
T FOR TWENTY YEARS
Next year, Oppikoppi turns 20. Try to imagine the party… Mind. Blown.