That’s What She Said: The Oppikoppi XP
What does Oppikoppi have to do with gaming, or anything nerd related in general? Basically nothing, but I bet that you didn’t see two seventy year old men rocking out to various bands, dressed in matching garb and playing air guitar with guitar hero controllers on your weekend. And that is the magic of Oppi. Anything and everything goes. And it’s why you subject yourself to three days of desert weather, intense dust inhalation which will probably cause emphysema and constant exhaustion.
Oppikoppi is the largest music festival in South Africa and it celebrated its 20th anniversary this year; Oppikoppi Odyssey as it was christened for this year’s celebrations. It originally started off as an Afrikaans music festival but Oppi has always been the retreat of hippies and liberals and the general unwashed disenchanted masses. The line-up gets progressively better each year and the festival attracts a fair number of internal acts; Editors and Wolfmother were the draw cards this year but there were about five or six other international acts, including a Canadian band called The Last Supper who were amazing.
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I went to my first Oppi last year on a whim and I think I’m going to continue going every year until I am forty. Here is what you miss out on if you don’t give this at least one go.
Oppi is and has always been about the music. As they say, music first and music last. The important thing about Oppi though, and this sounds counter-intuitive, is not to get fussed about the bands, line-up and who the headlining acts are going to be. You must accept that the music will be amazing, and that’s a fact for if you’re either one of those people who plans the weekend as per the line-up and which stages they need to be at on the hour or one of those people who ambles from stage to stage and goes where their drunk brain takes them. Oppi is predominately a rock/alternative festival but as it has become more popular, it hosts a significant number of acts who don’t fit that genre at all. So even if you don’t listen to rock or alternative (what is wrong with you?), you will still fill your weekend up with lots of acts from other genres.
My favourite thing about Oppi is getting to experience artists I have (1) never heard of before (2) would never have heard of (3) really loved while I watched them performing and (4) will now look out for them and listen to their music. Discovery is an amazing thing, and discovering new music is sublime. Last year, I discovered an SA band called Black Cat Bones and now we always go watch them play whenever they are in Jhb. This year, apart from The Last Supper, I also found this French act called The Wrestler, The Slut and The Dealer (can your name actually get cooler than that?) which wound up being really bizarre electronica with heavy bass lines and guitar riffs. There is no where else where you can get such a cool mix of bands; acts you know and love (Gangs of Ballet are always amazing), proper retro stuff (Valiant Swart, Hugh Masekela) and all the unknowns. Music first, music last.
It’s a given that people who can be found at Oppi love music. But those people also wind up being the coolest, most chilled crowd of people you will ever encounter in one place. People at Oppi are happy; and it’s not just because of the alcohol and drugs. People at Oppi are also incredibly peace loving; in the two years that I have been, I have not seen one fight or one argument. And that’s quite impressive, especially because I went around trolling people and generally being aggressive (pro-tip: don’t go up to guys who are bigger than you and dressed as nuns and start tuning them about being hardcore christians and asking if they are in love with Matthew Mole; I am very surprised I didn’t get punched in the face).
Everyone is friendly and you make lots of new friends while standing in crowds and just standing generally. I made friends with a group of little eighteen year old boys while I was listening to some band and was handing around whiskey for them to drink (they were too life young to appreciate how amazing it tasted because they all thought it was pretty gross).
Then people also take things quite next level by dressing up and making lots of effort to look amazing so people like me can act like tourists and take photos. I saw guys in carnivale type outfits and on stilts, I saw goth/heavy metal/punk couples in clothing I last saw when I went to Burn in Durban, I saw lots of people with masks and some guy with a weird clockwork contraption on his back. Things like this do not happen in Jhb, and don’t happen generally. It really is a different world out there and it is amazing.
I haven’t met one person who has regretted going to Oppikoppi. It’s good for your soul and it’s a proper reminder that these things and these people exist. You go where your weekend takes you; whether that’s a chilled session at the Ray Ban Top Bar Stage, dancing around to balkan type electro at the Bruilof stage, missing a main act because you want house music at the Red Bull Stage or getting some much needed nap time under the trees around the James Phillips Stage.
So go, and thank me when you get back.