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My own Oppikoppi A to Z

M&G Online editor Riaan Wolmarans wrote a great piece for the paper detailing the A to Z of Oppikoppi — that free-flowing cauldron of dusty love, music and drink somewhere about two hours out of Pretoria. It struck me how incredibly personal the whole ‘koppi experience is. Two people can spend the same amount of time in the same place and have two completely different experiences. Here’s the A to Z of mine.

A is for afternoon — the best time at Oppikoppi. The hangover is gone, the beer has begun flowing, the sun is due to set, the music has begun and there’s the prospect of a loooong evening ahead.

B has to stand for bland … which is about the only word I can conjure up for Jimmy Eat World. I know they’ve had one or two hits, just not on my iPod.

Chris Chameleon — the only artist in the world who likes it when his audience shouts “Boo!” as he walks on stage. I’ve only ever really seen him do quiet, unplugged-type shows before — on a full stage with a full band he rocked. He was clearly in his element at Oppikoppi.

D should be for dust. But Riaan did that, so I’ll make it for dassie. The theme of the festival was “The Way of the Dassie” supported by a brilliant campaign put together, I believe, by Max Normal. It captured the tone, the style and the spirit of the event perfectly … marketing genius. It also stands for disappointed that I missed Karen Zoid, Selaelo Selota and Marcus Wyatt because they played on the last day after I’d gone. Must sort my stamina out for next year.

E is for English … or how I felt a lot of the time during the festival. Not that this was a problem, but I’m sure I overheard whispers of “Soutie” as I walked past one or two groups of Goth types.

F is for the Femmes. Of the Violent kind. And it’s getting worse — apparently there’s a lawsuit brewing, which would explain the stony cold atmosphere between the two front men on stage during their show. But what really impressed me was their profound …

Geekiness … über-nerds, the lot of them. But great music.

Huh? Is all I can say to the rock chick from the Saturday Star who moaned about the sound during the Femmes. It was great, sweetie. Maybe with your head so far up your butt it sounded a bit echo-y, but that’s your problem, not ours.

I is for me, myself and only me. Because on the Friday night I was left all alone when my concert companions disappeared into the night, never to return. Embarrassed mutters of “we passed out, sorry” the next morning. Yeah, right.

Jägermeister. What else? Lots of it in little glasses. Say no more. Please. Legend has it that the local distributors of the drink noticed an annual spike in sales each August, which is how they learned of the existence of Oppikoppi. The rest of us found it on a map.

Kreef … Hotel Kreef, where I stayed. A bold attempt at creating some luxury in the veld. Warm showers (mostly), edible breakfasts (partly) and peaceful and serene surroundings (rarely). But it was better than the alternatives.

Long — the drive back to Johannesburg afterwards. Longer was the flight back to Cape Town for those sitting around me on the plane.

Marijuana. There was lots of it. This despite the two roadblocks and disapproving-looking cops en route from Johannesburg.

N must be used for “nice” … which is the word I would use to describe the Parlotones. I knew some of their music before the festival, but had never seen them live. They rocked –real crowd-pleasing energy. Diggit.

O for, um, Oppikoppi?

Paul Hanmer — pianist extraordinaire. I believe he was there, but I missed his show.

Q — it would be a little predictable to allocate the letter “q” to the “queues” at Oppikoppi, so I won’t. Um, let’s move on then.

Riaan — will put him on my list because, as editor of the M&G Online he’s been a regular contributor to the weekly podcast I present. But I’d never met him in the flesh, so to speak, until I saw him veering in my direction clutching a little printout of the day’s music schedule in one hand and a plastic cup of beer in the other. I recognised him instantly.

S is definitely for small bar … the most mis-named drinking hole on the planet. There’s nothing small about this place, which stays open late, has pitifully slow service, carries a tiny range of brands and generally does all the things that really piss me off about bars. But yet it is a strangely compelling place and you can immerse yourself in it for hours. As one does. And as one did.

Taylor. Justin Taylor. Nice voice. Good tunes. Too much bloody angst about failed romance. Someone snog him and get it over with, please.

Urinals provide the letter U. There are only two on the whole farm (would that make it a “double-u”?) and they’re both in the small bar. So the queues are pretty long, which makes the wide African bushveld a perfect substitute.

V stands for “Very grim but I’ll eat it anyway” … referring to the late-night pizza I had that was like chewing my way through the underside of someone’s old takkie. Hang on, that was the underside of … aw, shit, man. Why did I pay 30 bucks for it then?

Wish … as in “I wish I could do it all over again”.

X-rated views were available at my campsite. Well, sort of…. those who happened to be hanging around outside my shower on Saturday morning were treated to the sight of me, butt naked, leaning over to peel the Jägermeister crusts off my toes. The door hadn’t been bolted properly, so it swung open at just the wrong (or right, depending on who you’re talking to) moment.

Y … the big question has to be “why?”, like why anyone bothered booking Groove Armada to play at Oppikoppi? They could have bought a pile of CDs and played that instead with the Solid Gold dancers prancing across the stage.

Z … the sound I would like to have heard from the tent next door to mine. Instead, what I did hear, was the sound of an enormous bearded man snoring his chest inside out all night. And he didn’t even have the skaam to look sheepish the next morning. Bastard.


  • Tony Lankester

    Tony is a corporate animal but it wasn't always so. He used to work in the media, with a specific interest in technology; travel; music; and getting free stuff. He doesn't consider himself a thought leader, although he does confess to having thoughts. He presents the M&G's weekly podcast.