About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

11 August 2012

Oppikoppi: Day 2

Getting to the farm was far quicker, presumably because most people are already there, as evidenced by the general lack of parking space.

The first act we saw was, Jeremy Loops. The main feature was the use of loops, distortions and replays to combine different musical pieces; sort of a DJ with live instruments. It was a very interesting effect, though can't say that I was absolutely awestruck.

Albert Frost brought his blues and rock combo, in front of a packed house. It was an interesting blend of styles, complemented by a number of guest artists. It is easy to understand his popularity and it was a great way to see in the sunset.

BLK JKS came into the fore a few years ago as the all black rock band. When I saw them previously in Cape Town, I was quite unimpressed. Their sound has definitely evolved, a lot more musical but a lot less lyrical. I love the change, though the anthemic lyrics is what draws the crowd to sing a long, and that was mostly missing. That said, their closing song, evoking memories of apartheid protest actions (and now Cosstu strike rallies) was brilliant in both the blend of music and performance.

I didn't stay too long at the very crowded Valiant Swart performance. Country Western doesn't interest me much when in English, and it didn't become more interesting in Afrikaans.

Josie Field's performance at the "Small Stage" was packed, with almost no space to move. She played a number of her folk rock numbers, and it was a pity that this was on such a small stage.

A fairly recent band, Aking has a sizable following in South Africa, as evidenced by the massive crowd. The anthemic numbers however really require the listener to know them; I found it mostly mumbled and unclear - but the crowd around me seemed to be having a ball!

For me, French ska band, Babylon Circus had the best performance of the day. Similar to The Rudimentals in some respects, Babylon Circus combined a number of musical styles and influences into a raucous party. Despite singing mostly in French, they had the whole crowd dancing and even singing along. They had magnificent stage presence, with interesting stage antics (though not as extreme as Knorkator) and wonderful interaction with the crowd.

The wonderfully named, Desmond and the Tutus, were the last band we saw last night. The music was great, as were the lyrics; but the slurry/stoned singing style (or perhaps actual effect) wasn't too endearing. Like Aking, it felt as if one needs to know the songs to actually enjoy their performance.

10 August 2012

Oppikoppi: Day 1

Just a few km outside Northam (about 120km north of Rustenburg), Oppikoppi has become an institution in the South African music scene. Modeled after Glastonbury, Oppikoppi is a multi day, multi stage, multi genre (and South Africa's largest) music festival.

I was first interested in attending, about 10 years ago but being a student with limited resources in Cape Town didn't help. Every year since, I have wanted to come; but never got round to it. This year, it was a bit of a last minute decision, but I decide to take leave and just attend.

M & I are not camping, but rather staying at a B&B in a small town about 40 km away. We arrived last night, but decided to only come through in the late afternoon, and ended up leaving a bit earlier than planned. While, I was aware of the size, but did not expect such a long traffic jam while entering. That said, it is very well organised, though it could do with some sign posting and day visitor's parking is lacking.

Southern Gypsey Queen played pop rock, with a constant revolving door of guest artists, be it musicians from other bands or singers. It was a good collection of songs, though I admit to not knowing any.

The Muffinz, played a combination of reggae/jazz though they didn't seem to have any real lyrics in their songs. Their music was however quote brilliant.

We didn't catch too much of Flash Republic, but they were clearly very popular given the packed stage area. I wasn't sure what to expect, but a live band performing electro dance music wasn't it.

Tidal Waves are promoted as the "hardest working reggae band in the country" in the Oppikoppi program. Their songs were a lot more socially aware, though their little speeches in between probably missed the crowd. Singing in a number of languages (Afrikaans in a Jamaican accent is weird), it was certainly an interesting performance.

Knorkator, was definitely the highlight of the evening. Taking place in one of the smaller stages made the experience more intimate, but a larger venue was probably warranted. A German band, which predominantly sings in German brings its own dynamics; but they amplified this with some brilliant performance art - from their costumes (a man dressed in monk robes, and the lead singer first in a green gimp suit followed by a woman's swimming costume worn in reverse), to the translations, to the crowd interactions - was stunning, and i was glad to be there. The amazing range of the lead singer with an eclectic choice of music (from heavy metal to pop rock to dance) made it the best performance so far. Unfortunately, despite the crowd asking for more, there was no encore :(


In my past visit to Pilanesberg, it has usually been in the morning (leaving at an ungodly hour from Jo'burg), so I wasn't expecting to see much on a drive much later in the day. Due to fires, and it being winter, the height of the grass was lower, and it did help, but no predators were spotted.

05 August 2012

Nelson Mandela Capture Monument

50 years ago, Nelson Mandela was captured by the police, about 8km from Howick. It was a significant event; as he would be convicted of treason at the Rivonia trial and the rest is well known.

Yesterday, a monument was unveiled at the spot, with a museum to follow. It is a stunning monument, especially in the still rural environment. It is well worth the detour (about 2km from the freeway); and there is currently no entrance fee; even for parking!

Howick Falls

About 20km outside Pietermaritzburg, it is quite a spectacular sight in a small town. Remarkably, it is not commercialized beyond the obligatory curios and restaurant.