Firstly, I just want to say that I’m sorry it took me so long to get this post up. I meant to have it done by Wednesday but it was not to be. Mother Nature, the beautiful bitch she is, decided that it would be an appropriate time to take all my motivation and energy and convert it into phlegm and snot which she then, so lovingly, shoved into my lungs. I have not even been able to think, never mind write, for the last two days. For this I apologise and while I’m at it, I’m declaring war on that cold-hearted bitch. Fuck you, Mother Nature, you suck. So if you find any spelling and grammar problems in this post (as if there aren’t so many in most of my writing already) just ignore them and read on. *Sneezing Brains out*
This post is not so much about Oppikoppi as it is about my own experience of it. It’s not about the bands, it’s not free publicity (although I suppose it kind of is) or praise singing. It’s just what I’ve seen happens when you take 20,000 people, bathe them in several thousand litres of alcohol, cover them in dust and add just a sprinkling of excessive drug use, all slapped on top of a big heaping of straight up bush-madness. It’s beautiful, I tell you… The freedom, the chaos, the completely incomprehensible and ever changing standards of what it means to be civil, what it means to be human, what it means to be at Oppikoppi. This is about my fourth Oppikoppi experience, I’ll try and keep it short, but I have so much to say!
For me Oppikoppi started a week before the gates opened. I was in the shower and had just finally washed the last of the dust of yesteryear out from wherever it was hiding. I knew Oppi was just around the corner, but being the poor and lazy bastard that I am, I hadn’t yet found the money to buy a ticket. I’d entered any competitions I could find and was caught in a daily process of having my soul crushed bit by bit as I kept finding out that I hadn’t won anything. Sometimes it sucks to be me. Thankfully, I did have some help from my friends, in particular, a pair that I affectionately refer to as “The Lesbians” (They’re lovely, for honest and for true). They were linking me to more competitions than the internet had to offer, they even went as far as entering many of them on my behalf. But to no avail.
The day before Oppikoppi officially began, I was down and out and incredibly gloomy. The last competition I could remember entering had failed and it seemed that all hope was lost. But then a cousin of mine called to tell me he could get me tickets, only to tell me the tickets were gone when I phoned back. Hopes raised, hopes dashed, shit happens. I was just finishing up my noose when I received a phone call from a local radio station, TuksFM (who by the way I had spent about R50 on in their sms competitions the week before). An angel on the other end of the line, Ami, I think her name was, told me I’d won. I was ec-fucking-static! It’s just like I’d been saying, “Ask, and the Oppi Gods will provide!” A phrase to keep at heart whenever you’re in doubt.
So, now I had a new list of problems to deal with. Like the genius I am, I’d been praying for tickets, but I hadn’t yet managed to organise myself a lift, nor did I have a tent. Thankfully, little sister and her friends had just enough space in the car to squeeze another person in, sleeping outside, on the other hand, would not be the end of the world. What luck. I spent the rest of the evening trying to get my shit together, organising booze, food and baggage for the weekend of mindless madness. In my excitement it wasn’t very easy to fall asleep that night, but goddammit I tried and I managed to squeeze in a good hour or three. The winter in Pretoria was rather brutal this year, in fact, the winter in the entire country was quite brutal this year. For the first time in my life (and I think most [possibly all] people in S.A’s lives) it snowed in all 9 provinces. That’s hectic. I was curled up in bed under a few blankets with the heater on and a cat draped over me, trying to imagine what kind of cold would be waiting for me once the sun set over Northam.
Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho, It’s off to Oppikoppi I go!
THURSDAY – Let the Madness Begin!
I awoke the next morning just before 7 ‘o’ clock, much later than I had intended. I was still scurrying to get my shit (when I say shit, I mean stuff) together, but thankfully our (little sister and I’s) lift had not yet arrived. When they did it was a quick squishing in of everything we needed and off we went. We had to meet some people at an Engen (Garage/Petrol Station) to rearrange some of our luggage and get some padkos (?roadtrip food? [it doesn’t translate too well]) for the ride. At 8:13 we left the Engen with high hopes and some snacks in tow.
The people I was with were rather pleasant, there was little sister, obviously, who was a saving grace in organising a lift for me at the last minute, there was her sexy Chilean crush (and maybe even boyfriend, I’m not sure) and there was the driver, a happy-go-lucky, self-proclaimed workaholic nutcase who I have no qualms in describing as “South African”, a real boer seun (farm boy [also doesn’t translate quite right] just ask a South African). The ride was generally quiet, there was the odd snippet of conversation regarding our expectations for the weekend, the odd in-joke that I didn’t get and a lot of me being all high and mighty because, as the only non-oppi-virgin, I had the closest idea of what the weekend held for us all. We drove for about an hour before someone said, “We’ve lost the Dutch”. As funny as it sounded, we had in fact lost the dutch in one of the cars behind us. Thankfully, it didn’t take them long to get unlost and we were soon on our way again. There was a sign worth taking note of on the way there and I very much hope to stop by there for a drink, “BRA FOKS PUB”. That’s “Brother (but in Bro’ form) Fucks Pub”. I’ll have to check it out sometime.
We’d driven for 3 or so hours when we finally stopped in a little shopping centre in Northam to get some last minute provisions. You could see that 90% of the people there were there for Oppikoppi. Hippy, Hipster, Stoner, Rocker people everywhere. The people in Northam were rather smart though, they charged R2 (that’s 2 Rand, for you foreigners) for people to use the bathrooms, but they gave you a piece of toilet paper so I guess it’s kind of fair.
It was 11:03 (the very first band started 3 minutes before) when we left the shopping centre and continued our pilgrimage towards the holy land. At 11:05 we hit the line. Holy shit. What a line, I don’t want to talk shit or exaggerate but I’m sure that it was at least 7 kilometres from the back of that line to the bit of dirt road that lead to the gate and that’s still probably a very lenient estimation. The line was long. Am I making myself clear? Looooooong, get it? Every now and again a group of people would walk by and then just disappear off into the horizon. And when you see photographers getting out of their cars just to take pictures of all the cars ahead of, and behind, them you know it’s got to be worth the photo. It was crazy long. The line and the number of GP (Gauteng Province) number plates made me feel like I was stuck in some sort of fun, alternate universe of hectic Jo’burg traffic. But salvation was near, I could already taste the dust in the air.
That’s the one… When you see it, turn right. It’s the dirt road towards Heaven.
By 12:00 we’d hit the dirt road, that’s about an hour in bumper to bumper traffic that we had to sit through. I was sick of sitting and decided to walk ahead to the gate to go organise my ticket. I popped in my earphones and laughed at the cars as I missioned my way passed. It probably took me about 10 minutes to get to the gate. The problem with my ticket, you see, is that I didn’t actually physically possess one. All I had was phone calls from 3 strangers telling me I could go. So I went to the entrance where the bands and people with problem tickets entered and spoke to some lovely ladies there. They had no idea what I was talking about. Thankfully it was quickly cleared up in a phone call or 2 and I got my tag. I walked back to the car because they had my beer. I was at Oppi and I was going to get my drink on! I was drunk and covered in dust before we’d even managed to get through the gate. We did finally make it to the gate at 12:55, that means it was 2 hours spent in line. After a hiccup or two with our drivers’ ticket we were finally in!
I challenge you to get these on and off your wrists.
Being the nice guy I am, I tried to help my new friends find their campsite. Someone’s lady friend had arrived the day before and had already set up. Granted, it took quite a while to find the camp, but it pays to be nice to people, especially at Oppikoppi. Once I’d helped them, I loaded up my pockets with a few beers and a pack of smokes and went hunting for where my friends (who had also arrived the day before) were camped. I was told to find the crossroads of Boom Straat and SC Sibande so I could meet them there. Thankfully, the streets are marked, but by the time I found where I was looking for I was already quite drunk. I was off to a good start. I waited for about 10 minutes before my friend, Colin, arrived, only to have him show me that where I was standing was where we were camped. My wonderful friends rallied together and helped me carry my booze, food and other luggage from little sisters camp to my own after which we sat down and started drinking and having a laugh. The next time I looked at the time, it was 14:26 and I was as high and drunk as a skunk who drinks and smokes a lot.
An incredibly unflattering picture of me after being at camp a bit. It’s party time!
At Oppi they have a truck which drives by every day spraying water along the path to try and minimise the amount of dust. I, in my state, having (as far as my mind was concerned) just arrived, decided it would be a good idea to climb aboard and take a little tour. I ran up behind the truck to where a small ladder lead up to the top of the water tank and tried to grab on. As I did, some water got sprayed and I got completely soaked, which is not such a bad thing in the dry and dusty heat. I met a few very nice and very strange people, but mostly I just stood around and waved at groups of thoroughly hammered people as we drove by. I felt like the queen. It was awesome. I vaguely remember jumping off again and trying to find my way back to camp, which I can only assume I did. The next thing I knew for sure was that I was standing off to the side of one of the stages watching some band. No offense to them, but it couldn’t have been very good, my notes seem to indicate that I left very shortly afterwards.
At 16:15 I ran into The Lesbians, Angelique and Chantelle (or Jessica, it’s all very confusing, but we won’t get into it). They’re a married couple (because same-sex marriage is legal in S.A) that work at a bottle store down the road from my house. They were the ones who were sending me links to competitions like crazy people and I’m sure they were glad to see me. And just because I was so glad to see them, and knowing they were Oppi Virgins, I decided to take them on a little tour of the farm. I don’t imagine we got very far, but I distinctly remember telling random stories of previous Oppi’s and taking them up the Koppie to admire the view. We went to the gallery, what was on display, I honestly cannot tell you, because I sat down at a table taking swigs of their gin from a plastic squeezy bottle. I’m sure it was worth seeing, though. The galleries are normally very good. I remember last years gallery was photography of the bands the year before, the photographers name escapes me, but they were some amazing shots. At 17:16 The Lesbians decided it would be a good idea to have some shots of tequila. Tequila is not my friend, but I agreed none the less. Whether or not I ever went back to the tequila tent I shall never know, but it was worth it. After a little conversation and probably a lot of walking about, I must have lost them, or they lost me. Either way, we were no longer together. My notes say something that I can’t quite make out, but I’m fairly sure I went up the Koppie, lit myself a cigarette and stared intensely at the civil barbarism below, one of my favourite Oppi pastimes.
This is the view that I stared over so intensely. It’s better in person.
My next note says, “19:51 – Where the fuck am I? Seriously…”. For anyone taking notes at Oppi, or anyone at Oppi, this line should occur at least once during the weekend. If you have not been lost, then you weren’t there. Where exactly, I’m not sure, but you catch my meaning… I’ve seen many a random stranger stumbling through the bush trying to find his way back to camp. It really is all part of the experience. I remember one year someone arrived at our camp in shorts and a tank top, sloshed out of his mind at 3 in the morning in the freezing cold, just so he could rest up by the fire before missioning on to find his camp. Poor bastard, I don’t think he found anything until the next morning when the sun rose. Likewise, I can safely assume that I’d been walking around, completely lost, for at least an hour or 2. Had common sense prevailed, I would just have gone back to the stages and started again from there, but common sense didn’t and neither did I, another prerequisite for an Oppi experience. Fuck Common Sense. Thank goodness common sense and I aren’t Oppi bedfellows because had I found my way back to camp, I would have never have found what I found next…
I came across a large white tent, with fires outside and plenty of beanbags and chairs inside, I figured I may as well go in and find out what was happening. The place seemed to be filled with dusty, drunk people sitting around making random chit-chat about whatever they had on their minds. What made me suspicious though were the people that weren’t drunk, they were all wearing red T-shirts and were welcoming in strangers left, right and center. And when they’d finally lured them inside, they gave them coffee. Just like that. No questions asked other than, “Hey, How you doing? Would you like some coffee?”. In the state I was in I couldn’t resist. Free Coffee? Hells Yeah. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming. I mean, everyone at Oppi is normally friendly and welcoming, but they only ever gave you more booze, never coffee, the bastards. I was stunned, but the coffee was warm and I was happy.
The cold was beginning to set in, I was in a T-shirt and still thoroughly lost, so I figured my best chance of survival was to sit down around the fire and drink coffee until I exploded. The coffee wouldn’t sober me up completely though, as I was lucky enough to run into some other old friends who were carting around a bottle of brandy, vodka and tequila mixed. Disgusting, but it kept my buzz going for hours afterwards.
I was sitting around talking shit with whoever would listen, telling stories of Oppi’s gone by, when Hitler’s wet dream (and possibly my own) came and sat down beside me. Blonde hair, blue eyes and a pretty figure to boot. As with most girls, it didn’t take me very long to make her feel incredibly uncomfortable. I didn’t say or do anything wrong, I only let her read some of my other writing which I keep in a book with me, pieces I call “Dear Diary”. The Dear Diary pieces are each a page long letter/prayer to the Great One, a diety, Dear Diary. Nothing serious, but apparently blasphemous enough to offend what turned out to be someone with deeply christian sensibilities. Sorry, Lauren. I honestly had no idea.
The camp of ridiculously nice people turned out to be run by a christian group called the Red Frogs (which the pretty blonde was a member of). Being nice to people is just how they roll, you don’t hear me complaining.
Once she’d left and I’d finished my… I don’t know… ninth cup of coffee I decided that perhaps it was time to try and find my way back to camp. One of the Red Frog gentleman offered me a jacket which I gratefully accepted. This time common sense did prevail and I went back to the stages so I had a starting point to work from in finding my way back to camp. I sat down for a moment or two to listen to a band called Shadow Club, not really my scene, but I was trying to keep an open mind and it wasn’t bad stuff. Kind of fun actually.
One of the many stages, borrowed this photo from a friend so I don’t know when or who it is up there.
Naturally, as soon as I’d left the stages I was lost again. 23:48 is what my notes say, but one can never be sure. I wandered around for another hour or two trying not to take the same streets twice, which is incredibly tricky when you have no idea which streets you’ve taken. I didn’t have a torch with me (it was back at camp) so reading street signs was unlikely unless I asked someone. Unfortunately, even that didn’t occur to me at the time. I did, however, eventually find camp, but no one was there. Luckily enough, I’d left some beers out that afternoon. I lit up cigarette, cracked open a beer and warmed myself next to the dying embers of the fire (because I couldn’t find the wood).
That’s the last thing I remember before my friends got back and dragged my passed-out ass out of the fire. The bobble on my beanie had caught fire, thankfully my head and hair were still intact. Thank goodness. I was dragged off and dropped into my friend Shannon’s tent where I slept like a rock until the next morning. For the record, Ladies, Shannon is warm, I’ve never snuggled a man so happily in my life before. No Homo.
FRIDAY – Let the Madness Continue!
Kids… Alcohol is bad. Drugs are bad. When I woke up everything was bad. Everything in the whole, entire world was a terrible, beautiful scar on the face of the Earth. I hadn’t experienced that much pain and discomfort in a very long time. I know, I have only myself to blame. I had to throw up once or twice, that’s just how it goes. It’s good for you though, you get all the unnecessary gunk out of your system and make space for a whole new day of abusing your kidneys half to death. It was terrible. Thick, yellow blotches of bile melting everything on their way up my oesophagus. It was probably the coffee that got me so badly, I drink a lot of alcohol, but I’ve never had that much coffee in one sitting, so I’m blaming it all on the coffee. It’s standard procedure, it’s just a matter of having your system align itself to the horrors that await.
I passed out once or twice on the way out of the tent, not because I was drunk (even though I was), but because my system simply couldn’t reconcile itself with daylight. A strange thing indeed. This is another of those Oppi moments I recommend everyone goes through, not the most pleasant, but necessary none the less. The phrase drink till you drop comes to mind and believe me, in this setting, it’s much easier than you’d think.
I finally made it out of the tent and managed to slump myself into a nearby camping chair. The warm air and the sights of unfolding madness around me made me feel a lot better. It was at this point that I realised that during the course of events the night before I had lost my phone, my earphones, my bag, my shades (sunglasses) and my dignity all in one fell (or should I say foul) swoop. “‘Tis of no consequence”, thought I. My main priority at that moment was getting back up on my feet and realigning myself with the milieu of mindlessness. It wasn’t easy, I tell you no lies. All I could do at that moment was take in as much water as I could and sit back until my senses had finally come to terms with where I was. Once they did, things became a lot easier.
This is also a valuable Oppi lesson to learn: You see, normally, if one went out and had a bender, one would wake up the next morning and drink as much water as one could, have a greasy breakfast, take some morning after pills (not the pregnancy kind) and just sleep it off. At Oppi, that’s not the way it works. As soon as you realise where you are it all becomes very clear and the day becomes a hell of a lot easier. They say the only surefire way to avoid a hangover is to keep drinking. At Oppi, no truer words have ever been spoken. It’s a matter of continuing the cycle of drunkness, have another beer, smoke another joint. Guaranteed, you’re going to feel a hell of a lot better. Okay, given, not better, you’re just going to be drunk all over again, but is that not, after all, what feeling better is?
So that’s what I did. I let my brain catch on to where I was and I pushed the process to it’s logical conclusion. It took a joint, three beers, a can of spaghetti, a hand full of gummy worm things and some Lamb of God (I think the songs were “One Gun” and another one I can’t quite recall) for me to get back into the swing of things. Mind you, I still couldn’t stand up, but that’s really not the end of the world. I sat for a while watching the people go by, I think that was the day we saw a dude come by naked with nothing but a camping chair over his privates, all in good fun. There was also someone filming something or other, I suppose he was just trying to capture the vibe, he went and stood right next to the rubbish receptacle thing and filmed it for about 3 minutes. It was weird to say the least.
After about an hour or so and another drink and smoke (or two), I finally managed to pull my fat ass out of the camping chair and go for a walk. Generally, there aren’t very many bands that I actually want to see, but for me Oppi isn’t really about the bands, it’s about the people, the vibe, the fact that I’m there and the feeling of being (compared to a normal day) completely free. First on my agenda, of course, was to find out if anyone had seen any of the stuff I’d lost. Not an easy task in a crowd of 20,000. I figured a good place to start would be back at the Red Frog tent.
I was received like a rockstar, everybody seemed to know my name and I don’t know what I’d said the night before but I kind of felt as though I might be a guru of sorts by the way they described me. My ego isn’t built to handle such praise. They did, however, have my bag containing my phone, but not anything else I was looking for. It would have to do. Colin (who was with me at the time) and I decided that we’d best be on our way, not without some bottles of water and some fizzers (a sweet/candy), which they were giving away for free, of course.
Off to the stages we went to go hunt for our other friends. After searching for a while with no luck, we eventually found a spot in the shade and decided to just chill for a bit. We sat about, watching the people go by and randomly trying to find randoms in the crowds among us. There were people of all sorts. One or two were carrying guitars, there were some jockish looking people, some obvious stoners (which, by the way is perfectly permissible) and some people that I struggle to put into a group. The great thing about Oppi is you can be whoever you want to be, or someone else entirely, I’ve even seen people being nobody at all, but they were either drunk or not there so I’m not really sure what that means. Anyway, Colin and I just sat and watched the pretty girls go by, you know, with the occasional wink or two. All in all I was feeling a hell of a lot better than when I’d first woken up.
The next decision was unanimous: It was time to go back to camp and restock on some food and booze, always a good plan. On the way out of the gates we ran into my ex and her boyfriend. Bless her soul, she is such a sweet thing and as much as I hate to admit it, her boyfriend is a super nice guy. I’d brought along her wrist tag from the year before to give back to her. I thought I was being sweet, I think anyone else thought I was being creepy to even have brought it at all.
On a semi-related note… This incident, as well as another one that happened the afternoon before (which I’ve intentionally left out for the sake of keeping everyone’s dignity intact), reminds me of another lesson that Oppi has taught me. It’s true that you never know who you’re going to run into, you never know when you’re going to get crazy drunk and do or say something that in retrospect may be very embarrassing (flattering as it may be at the time). It is with this in mind that one should remember that sometimes the crazy does get out, sometimes the honest that isn’t meant to get out, gets out. You might hurt or be hurt, or you might offend or be offended or you might just be really ashamed in spite of yourself or someone else. Which side of the fray you’re on is irrelevant. The point is that there is no good reason to be holding grudges or ostracizing people… Just take the hit, get over it, move on and remember that for this one weekend, nothing matters, you may as well be immortal and life may as well be a giant drunken joke. Parts of this lesson apply outside of Oppikoppi as well.
After that wonderful and ‘weight off my chest’ encounter with my lovely ex, I realised that it was little sister who had most of my food. So we would have to go to her camp instead of our own. They were closer to the stages anyway so it wasn’t an issue. After blikseming (bashing/ missioning/ beating [also doesn’t translate too well]) our way through several peoples camps we found our dear friend, Shannon, bartering with a gentleman in a bright orange jumpsuit. They were discussing the price at which he (Shannon) would be willing to part with a nifty little megaphone he’d brought along. Turns out the price would be quite high…
We left Shannon and went onward towards little sisters camp. When we got there we were immediately offered drinks and seats in the shade. This is another of those universal Oppi laws. Everyone will always accommodate your needs, provided you aren’t completely full of shit. It’s the kind of vibe that just permeates the air, even these Oppi virgins understood that when someone arrives, regardless of who they are, you are obliged (but not obligated) to show some hospitality. Respect. It probably has something to do with the massive amounts of dust and alcohol in everyone’s system. Sure enough, Shan showed up shortly after we arrived with a box of T-shirts, torches and plenty of other Cuervo merchandise. His negotiations had gone very well. Being the nice guy that he is, he just started handing it out for free. We are his friends after all. It was a decision that I feel he has come to regret. I managed to convince everyone at little sisters camp, my friends and hers’, to join us for pancakes at the Red Frog tent. Free Pancakes (those people are so ridiculously nice) mind you, so it didn’t take much convincing.
At Little Sisters camp, stealing their shade and drinking their booze.
Again, I felt like a rockstar. People I don’t even think I’d met were greeting me by name. It’s a nice way to pass the time in a twenty minute line for free pancakes. The pancakes were delicious, and if they weren’t, who cares? They were free. Beggars can’t be choosers and all that jazz. Now that we had more of our group together we decided it was time to do some refilling of beers and smokes… You know. The essentials. It was finally time to make the mission back to camp.
Free Pancakes and the Red Frogs – Did I mention that they were lovely people?
Being back at camp really didn’t last long. We got there, filled up on beer and went straight to the stages because as it turns out, Shannon’s bartering had gone even better than just a box of free stuff. I won’t say how well, but he was more than happy to buy food for us all and Ilze, who for some reason I haven’t mentioned so far, bought us some hot chocolate. Delicious. In the background, from the stage next to the food stalls, I could hear the opening riff of Voodoo Child. Oh, Lord. It was as though Albert Frost’s guitar was making sweet, sweet love to my ears. It was beautiful. I managed to convince everyone to hang back for just a little so we could listen for a while… What bliss.
We missioned back to camp again, we run out of beer quickly, and sat down to have a smoke or two. My belly was full, my ears were pleased and my brain was fried. I could not have been happier. It was while I was in this susceptible state that somebody suggested we go see some guys called PHFat. He explained that it was a Hip-hop/Rap kind of vibe, and then kept repeating it as if it was a selling point. I mean no offense, I’m not a giant fan of one beat looped a thousand times and layered with unintelligible and/or moronic lyrics. I eventually caved and decided to go.
PHFat were playing on the just the other side of the Koppie, all the rap/rave kind of acts do. Can’t imagine why. I must admit though, the jams might have been a sample on loop, but it was fun, and the lyrics weren’t entirely unintelligible. In fact, I learnt a very valuable lesson from PHFat that evening. They performed a song just before we left, I don’t know what it was called but I could hazard a guess. The lesson I learnt, because they shouted it over and over and over again (100 times is a fair estimate), was that “You Can’t Say Fuck On the Radio!” I often wonder how long it took to write a song like that. Did they sit around in the studio writing out every line? I’m just playing though… I’m not hating, guys. Keep rocking on.
Shannon and I somehow managed to lose the rest of our group and I’d like to say right now, that I am so grateful that it was Shannon who was left behind. It’s not that I don’t love everyone else just as much as I love the Shanman, it’s just that he had the beer. What sane minded individual wouldn’t feel the same? We missioned our way down the Koppie and then up a path that I have never been up in the 3 years I’d been coming to Oppikoppi. It had just never occured to me to go left instead of right, or rather, in this case, straight instead of left. The directions are fairly irrelevant. The point being that when we got to the top of the hill we found tables, people and stage with a pretty girl and a guitar. Livy Jeanne, I think her name was. Unfortunately, we caught the arse-end of her set so I don’t know if she was any good, quite a pretty lady from where I was sitting.
Next to where Shan and I were sitting was a different pretty lady, passed out on her arms, possibly drooling all over the table. That’s fine, that’s her prerogative. She came to shortly after we sat down, very cute and equally drunk. She forced a bit of small talk while I took some random notes on the evening and Shannon nodded politely (as politely as he can). I’m really not sure what she said, but she left quite an impression. At some point she decided it was time to go to bed. She stood up and kissed Shannon. I admit, I was jealous, as is my nature, but my jealousy didn’t last long because she stepped aside and kissed me too. How very continental of her. After doing my level best trying to convince Shannon not to punch someone (because it does happen) and then going to greet that same someone we pissed off back to camp. Again. Camp is an incredibly popular place.
I can honestly say I don’t remember the walk there, my notes say I sang, to what I do not know, but if I was happy and singing does it really matter to what or with whom I sang? Of course not. I don’t know if I made it all the way back to camp, I’m sure I must have. Next on my actual list of things I wanted to do was to go and watch a band called “Desmond and the Tutus”, it’s catchy, hoppy fun stuff. Later I would find out that I’d missed practically the entire show. Oh well, I guess there’s always next year. I ran into our across the road neighbour, I’m sure he had something to do with me missing the Tutu’s and 340ml too (come to think of it), he had the biggest bankie I have ever had the pleasure of meeting in person. He was either the son of diplomats or he was very well travelled, I’m sure I asked him, but I just honestly can’t remember what he said. I decided to hang with him and his crowd for the evening.
My new foreign friend was a sharing kind of guy, which is always a nice thing, but he was terrible at rolling joints. That didn’t stop him though. I walked around with his crowd, all of their names escape me, but they were cool guys.
It’s always fun missioning with random people, you learn new things and, more often than not, have conversations that your normal friends (I use the word normal very lightly) would never even think of. It’s a learning experience to immerse yourself in a group of strangers, but remember that you should always take care of the people you’re with and even the people you aren’t with, because you never know what could happen over the course of an evening. Thankfully, no one got hurt, except perhaps my kidneys. Again.
My new friends and I were on our way towards the Desmond and the Tutus stage, rather drunk, a little high, but mostly quite content. Before we got to the stage, however, they swung a left turn into a nearby beer tent. Over the noise around me, I could just make out the Tutus finishing up their set and saying goodbye to the crowd. Damn, just missed it.
As a consolation, my new friends poured a crushed up tablet into my hand and told me to sniff it. Now, you know what you’ve been told your whole life? The whole, don’t take things from strangers. This is the exception. Don’t get me wrong, drugs are bad, no doubt, but as I’ve been saying over and over: Oppikoppi is a free pass from the banality of normal life. I took it. What it did I shall never know, but I definitely had a good evening.
We went to the stage where Fokofpolisiekar (Fuck off police car) were playing. Fokof are some of the true legends of the South African Music scene. One of the most popular bands in the country and for the longest time you couldn’t say their name on TV or on the radio, but it didn’t stop them. South African Rockers to the Max. I spent the first 2 or 3 songs translating the Afrikaans lyrics for my neighbour friend before the novelty wore off for him and he left. I, on the other hand am still a little bit hoarse from shouting along. If you get a chance, go give them a listen, they’re fantastic performers live.
After Fokof finished their set, I was all alone again. I figured I could go grab myself another cup of coffee or two at the Red Frog tent (Did I mention that they’re ridiculously nice people?). They’d closed for the evening, but the fires were still burning and people were still sitting around, chatting and having a good time. I struck up a conversation with two such people, Kev and Tam. Once again I have no idea what I was talking about but I think I was trying to plug my blog around the fire. You know, get some outside followers. By my stats I see I don’t think it worked to well. I was probably drunk.
Kev and Tam invited me back to their camp for a smoke and a beer, which I gladly accepted, and we sat around for a while talking nonsense. Like I said before, I love hospitable people and I think Kev and Tam deserve an award. They were happy to share a pipe, some drinks and at some point, and much to my surprise, a bag of mushrooms. Not wanting to be rude, I ate them there. I don’t know how long I was there for, but the next thing I knew it was 3 ‘o’ clock in the morning and Kev and Tam wanted to go sleep. Fair enough. I was nearing camp when I realised that I was tripping balls. That was easily one of the nicest walks I have ever had in my life. I made it back to camp and tried to get some sleep before the last day of Oppikoppi.
SATURDAY- And Then I Lost the Plot…
I don’t know what time I woke up, but the sun was out and so were the people. I think the mushrooms were still happily coursing their way through my system but I didn’t really have enough time to confirm whether or not this was the case. The very first thing I was offered when I climbed out of the tent was a lovely giant slice of space cake and a beer. When I had cake the year before, I passed out and missed all the bands I actually wanted to see. It’s potent to say the least.
Now, I’ve got to be completely honest with you, Saturday is one massive blur. Shortly after ingesting the cake (how shortly I don’t know), I had some mushrooms again and during the process of ingesting mushrooms and cake I was drinking lots and lots of beer and I’m sure there must have been a smoke or two along the way. To sum it up I would say that I was completely out of it. Which is a very fun (if not, very good) thing to be at Oppi. It’s just part of the spirit.
Chilling in the road, watching the people go by.
The only useful thing my notes say for that day are “Jy sê my niks!” (You can’t tell me anything) and “Shit went down”. What shit went down? I don’t know. Now that I read it, my notes for that day aren’t at all useful. Thankfully I do remember some of the days events…
Not sure when I said it happened but I think this happened on Saturday. Weird.
I know I must have been at the stages by about 18:00 because I’m sure I watched “The Eagles of Death Metal”. I remember being a little bit disappointed that there was no death, no metal and definitely no death metal, but it was an awesome show. I think.
I vaguely remember listening to a bit of “Enter Shikari”, but, no offense to them (or anyone else), I must have zoned out and wandered off.
Wherever I went, I couldn’t have gone very far or been away for more than an hour because I was back in time to watch “The Kongos”. They had some serious issues with the sound people as I remember. I’m sure that’s not how they’d want to be remembered, but I had very little memory left use at that point and something like that tends to stick. Once they’d sorted their sound problems out, however, they put on an amazing show. I remember the thousands of people (and me among them) bouncing along to the tunes. A few songs in, halfway through a song, this guy walked up. Not just any guy, though. The crowd went ballistic as did I. It was madness. It was Jack Parow, vocal chords a-blazin’, spitting words like they were spit, or something else that’s easily spittable. All you could see was the crowd bouncing and arms up in the air, while some goofy-capped Afrikaner was rapping and blowing minds. The Kongos probably could have walked off the stage and no one would have noticed.
As luck, but probably clever planning, would have it, Jack Parow was the next show on the next stage over. What he said, I don’t know. What happened on stage, I don’t know. All I remember was that I was way at the back, pumping my fist in the air and happily cringing at the sell-out I’d become.
“Jack Parow ooh, hy’s so goed! Hoe goed? Proe soet, Parow bra, piel soos ‘n koevoet!”
You can throw that into Google translate, it’ll tell you the right words, but like I’ve said before, sometimes the Afrikaans just doesn’t translate quite right. Point being, the man put on an amazing show. Respect to a rapper, I never thought I’d say it, but when he’s goed, he’s good, there’s no point in arguing.
After Jack Parow I caught a few minutes of Seether while Shannon happily bought us some food. Be careful of ordering anything covered in Jalapeños, deliciously painful. Seether got started up but there was no place to stand. No place from which to view the stage, so we just went and waited for Bullet for my Valentine instead. I fell asleep on the grass for a while, but managed to wake up in time for the show.
Now I should say, that when Bullet started up, when they first made their appearance on the scene, I gave it a listen. It was good, it was heavy, it was fun, until I saw the live DVD, “Live at Brixton”. I never wanted to listen to Bullet ever again. It was so horrible it almost made me cry.
But the show redeemed them in my eyes, they had the crowd going with barely a note or beat out of place. Everyone was singing along and bouncing around and I don’t think I’ve ever heard so many white South Africans correctly singing our multilanguage national anthem ever in my life. Whether or not it was really correct, I’m not sure, but it must have been at least phonetically right because it sounded okay. For all I know, Bullet was horrible, but it didn’t sound like it. It’s the same as chatting up a girl after a couple of drink, you don’t know for sure if she’s as pretty as she appears to be. Likewise, I don’t know if Bullet was as good as they seemed or if I was just as hammered as I think I was. It was was probably a combination of both. For the last band to play the weekend, they put on a good show and left Oppi on a high note.
I assume we all went back to camp and lamented that the next morning we would be packing up and heading home.
SUNDAY – Plot Regained, Sadness Setting in. The Last Day.
The next morning was sad. Nobody really shows it, but it’s always a sad thing to know that you have to leave one of the most awesome events on Earth. I woke up and had a beer or two and went for a walk to go get a final look around the Holy Land.
The farm where Oppikoppi is held is always left in a mess. Always. Besides all the rubbish, people leave kettles and cooler boxes, gazebos and even whole tents. If you plan on staying a day or two extra after all the bands have packed up and left, you may as well bring a spare car and do a little treasure hunting after the massacre. And while you’re at it, you can help get the cleanup started before the baboons wander back out onto the farm. I’m always a little bit disappointed to see the mess that is left behind. If you’re going to Oppi, do us all a favour and clean up your camp before you leave, please.
Can you see the sadness? Also, compare the bit of our camp you can see with the bit of the neighbours camp you can see… See?
My final mission around was depressing and enlightening as it always is, to watch the hordes of people backed up in traffic and smothering the place in dust as they sit around in bumper to bumper traffic waiting to get out on the open road and back home. Oppi ends much the same way it begins. Traffic. There’s just no avoiding it when there is only one gate out of Oppi and even afterwards only two roads to travel back south to get home. The traffic lasts for hours, even catching everyone again at the toll gates, but it’s kind of fun to know that the people stuck with you are like minded, dirty and tired individuals.
I helped pack up my camp before going back to little sisters’ to find out if I still had lift. I didn’t. Somehow they managed to accumulate more stuff than they had come with, so Ilze very kindly offered to squeeze me into her car with the rest of the ruffians. We only just managed to get everything, including ourselves, into the car and then it became a matter of keeping sane while we slowly edged our way into traffic and even slowlier edged our way off the farm and out towards home.
I won’t go into details about the trip home, suffice to say that there was an emergency side of the road bathroom break, one stop at a petrol station, some of the most massive and scary potholes I’ve ever seen and a lot of reminiscing and whining about being dirty and how that dirtiness had come to be.
It is time for the filthy masses to go home, sober up and turn Gautengs water supply red for a day or 4. All while trying to remember what it was they were doing, but knowing that it was good.
Let me take a moment before I finish up to say that I realise that what I’ve written makes me and 20,000 other people sound like alcoholics, drug addicts and maniacs. And make no mistake, we are, but it happens but once a year and afterwards we all must return back to our homes, families and jobs, back to normalcy, back to life. Oppikoppi is a release from the banality of the regular, everyday schlep, a chance to lose your shit and find yourself, a chance to live. I wouldn’t trade any of this barbaric mindlessness for the world. I love Oppikoppi, it’s my Fortress of Solitude, my blanket to warm me once a year in a world of cold, My Heaven on Earth.
I am always sad to leave that wonderful place. But I do it knowing that both I and the farm have a year to recover and recuperate before we dive straight back in and do it all again.
Oppikoppi was a Sweet Thing.