16 Pages

Friday, 12 August 2011

harpies bizarre

hollywood actorsturned-singers
dance, dance revolution

soritra bounds across wits theatre
whacked in the head

darren simpson shares his world
PLUS: weekend diversions

tv, films and gigs to get to

party at the end of the world

unknown brother




oTC[on the cover]

Friday, 12 August 2011

OppiKoppi 2011 was a whirlwind of dust, thorns, rock and sweat, but hey, at least we didn’t get arrested

AWESOME: SUM 41 FRONTMAN DERyck WhiblEy MADE FOR A GOOD EVENiNG ON SUNDAy Caro Rayner ON THE same weekend that thousands of American festival goers streamed into a rain-soaked Lollapalooza in Chicago to see the Foo Fighters, 16 000-odd South Africans made the annual pilgrimage to Northam, Limpopo, to check out Oppikoppi. This year’s festival theme was Unknown Brother – after the bluesrock hit by The Black Keys. Unfortunately, though they were rumoured to be performing, The Keys weren’t there. But the simple association with the greatest rock band of the last few years meant to most that this one was gonna be epic. Considering some of my absolute favourite SA bands (Shadowclub, Machineri, Taxi Violence) didn’t even get a slot on the main stage, I honestly didn’t know whether this Oppi was going to rock as hard as it had in previous years. Nevertheless, I was hellbent on breathing dust and getting silly at a heritage site for three days so I could check it out for myself. I picked two of my closest reprobate


STAGE DiViNG: SEDGE WARblER’S SET ON ThE RED bUll STAGE WAS, ER, iNTERESTiNG this meant I was going to have to convince my landlady to accept MiMoney vouchers instead of rent. It also meant that the exhausted and harrassed bartenders at the festival weren’t getting tips this year. Bummer. Queuing for 40 minutes with hundreds of frustrated festival goers in a 45°C MiMoney tent was just exactly what I needed to round off my wonderful morning. Whichever genius at Standard Bank came up with this gyp deserves a good slap and his next salary in MiMoney vouchers. I thanked our lucky stars that we wouldn’t also have to pitch our own tent in what has affectionately become known to the Oppi crowd as Mordor – the thorn-covered, rocky surrounds of the main festival where most have to camp. Luckily, we were staying at The Kreef, a self-proclaimed “point-fivestar hotel”, which basically means pre-erected tents, hot showers, clean toilets and, most importantly, a hairdryer. Still, by the time Mountain Man, The Captain and I had unpacked and organised everything, we were – er,

PicTURE: ScOTT SMiTh bushed. There would be no reconnoitring until we got some rest. Over the years, OppiKoppi has become more about the vibe, the people, than it has about the music. The music is just a medium for it all, an excuse to have an enormous blowout in the bush away from bosses, judgment and any sense of restraint. By far the best part of the annual festival, now in its 17th year, is meeting your tent neighbours. Most often, these are people you’d never have the opportunity to hang out with anywhere else and, whether you think they’re idiots or not, it is always interesting. Our tent neighbours were a dreadlocked hippy, his sister and her girlfriend, a crew of old dudes (all married, but there sans women) and a group of multi-generational campers who all seemed to be wilderness survivalists. We all shared our resources – food, booze and the occasional joke; each neighbour had something unique to add to the experience. We chatted with Man Man (the hippy) about history, religion and philosophy while drinking beer in the sun.

friends (Captain Eric and Mountain Man), stuffed a hatchback at 3.30am with everything from extra blankets and wet wipes to burn kits and Jägermeister, seriously considered a breakfast beer and off we went on Friday morning, barely able to see out the back window for all the coolers, pillows and blankets. Now, not only is Oppikoppi itself an ordeal with all the soetdoring, dust, sweat and cold nights, the R511 to Northam is also not to be sneezed at, unless you’re allergic to potholes. By 6.30am, Mountain Man’s insistence on driving at a million miles an hour had us on the wrong end of an R511 sinkhole that looked like the edge of the world. By 7am, three other cars had also blown out both front tyres – on a road without any sign of a petrol station, a turnoff, or a single degree above Celsius. One spare, two blowouts and bent rims – what to do? Freezing and not nearly marinated enough for good humour, I helpfully offered to stay in the car while the two boys dealt with the problem. About 15 minutes after they’d done

the manly changing of the right front tyre, a local in a sturdy looking bakkie pulled over to help us. Given that the left front was blown too, he suggested we flag down a helpful passer-by with 13-inch wheels so we could borrow a spare till we got to Northam about 40km down the road. Chances? Nil. But to my amazement, somebody did actually stop. So we were off to a start. By the time we got to Oppi, we were sleep-deprived, irritated and thirsty. Thinking about which bottle of hard tack I was going to open for brunch, I wandered over to the ticket tent dressed like a rapist – in a fetching pair of old tracksuit pants, a rumpled trenchcoat and leather gloves. We were all tagged like cattle and directed to a table where we were handed dinky plastic cards we were told could be charged with money, as this year’s Oppi was a “cashless festival”. The cards meant that no stalls or beer tents would accept any cash whatsoever. The kicker? Whatever cash you had on your card but hadn’t spent by the end of the festival would be “refunded” to you in MiMoney vouchers. For me,

Friday, 12 August 2011

oTC[on the cover]



FACE-MELTING: DAN PATLANsky CAN sHRED A MEAN GUITAR PICTURE: JoHNATHAN WooD But the main event for me on Saturday was Capetonian dubstepper Sibot. He made his name with local hip hop crew Max Normal back in 2001, but he’s come a long way since. While the rest of Max Normal evolved into Die Antwoord, Sibot’s been playing all over Cape Town and Europe. The entire Red Bull stage was rigged with screens and cameras upon which some beautiful VJing unfolded. At one point, after a bassy dubstep version of “Super Evil Me”, Sibot (in full eyeball suit) climbed the stage UNkNoWN BUNNy: FAsHIoN WAs oF PARAMoUNT IMPoRTANCE AT rigging and pushed sample butUNkNoWN BRoTHER PICTURE: JoHNATHAN WooD tons at the enormous, writhing The old ballies shared some of their crowd. He melted our faces off. He pies, along with a few interesting theo- wubbed and glitched us into oblivion. ries on what I should’ve been wearing In a word, Sibot was awesome. (or not). And the multi-generational Sunday saw the bigger acts and bush experts shared with us some international headliners on stage. delicious blesbok potjie. I realised we Among those billed were Dan Patmight have been out of our depth when lansky, Lark, David Kramer, Michelle one of them offered Mountain Man a Shocked, The Used and Sum 41. card, which read: Having grown up with Tanita “John Smith: The eighth wonder of Tikaram, Eurhythmics and Tracy the world”. Instead of contact details, Chapman, I am no stranger to Michelle the card listed a few of his titles: “Cas- Shocked’s 1988 single, “Anchorage”, ual hero; International lover; Seeker and it was this that drew me to the of peace and love”. And it seemed we Skellum stage at 4pm on Sunday were in the company of someone with afternoon. With the sun setting specno small number of accomplishments: tacularly behind her, the alt folk singer “Tigers tamed; Alligators castrated; in her impossibly tight skinnies and Uprisings quelled; Computers verified; Fedora serenaded a relatively small Governments run and Orgies organ- crowd with gusto. The 49 year old can ised”. Useful guy to have around. still belt it out and she had a fantastic It turned out that Saturday was stage presence I felt was wasted on Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse’s birthday (or such a small audience. at least that’s what the programme Then she introduced “Anchorage” by said) so I wandered down to the main saying that not only were all of us too stage just in time to catch a warm, young to remember the song, but that trumpety rendition of a world music it was never supposed to be released song I’d never heard before. He was here, “But we won’t go there,” she said, brilliant and left the crowd with the quite bitchily, I thought. Talk about the parting message: “I hope to see you wrong time and place to be political. I all in church tomorrow – so you can was not amused. And to top it all off, repent for tonight!” Hmmm, chances? just as she was about to start playing

EXPERT kNoB TWIDDLER: sIBoT’s sET oN sATURDAy WAs THICk LIkE VANILLA MILksHAkE AND THE okEs WENT Bos PICTURE: sCoTT sMITH her (one and only) hit song, she stopped and told the cameraman in the pit to stop shooting and wouldn’t continue till he did! I had seen enough; this woman just wasn’t getting the OppiKoppi vibe. So I wandered over to my natural habitat (the main beer tent) and found a spot to chill with a view of the James Phillips Mane Stage. Dan Patlansky was shredding an evil blues guitar at the appreciative sunset crowd. His three-pack-a-day voice still makes my bones vibrate and I maintain he’s the closest thing we have to a modern-day Hendrix – to whom he paid homage with a stolen riff or two. Unfortunately, Patlansky didn’t do any of the behind-the-back guitar tricks I grew to appreciate when I first saw him at Oppi, but this did nothing to detract from the man’s sheer skill with his instrument. The main beer tent is a great vantage point; you can see the whole festival pass by if you sit there long enough. Halfway through a tolerable food-stall burger, I spotted a barefooted girl wearing a flasher trenchcoat whose feet and ankles looked positively tortured. I wondered how many soetdorings her boyfriend would have to dig out of her at the end of the day and felt grateful for my industrial wellies. At about 6.45pm, a South African legend came onstage. I couldn’t see if he was wearing red velskoene. It seemed like the whole OppiKoppi crowd converged on the main stage and beer tent to see David Kramer do his thing. It was amazing; the 60-yearold national treasure hasn’t aged a day. His voice certainly hasn’t. As he started to sing, the whole beer tent seemed in unison to sing along – even the kids knew all the words. It was an energetic performance that included some of his biggest hits of the last 30 years, as well as a few collaborative performances from Tamara Dey, Francois Van Coke and Jack Parow, among others. Predictably, Lark was darkly seductive and primal. I loved every minute of Inge Beckmann’s performance. As for The Used, WREsTLER-IsH: DAVE oVERToN AND HIs UNkNoWN BRoTHER PRACTIsED THE ART oF CIVIL I remember oPPIkoPPI GREETINGs. NICE PICTURE: JoHNATHAN WooD thinking from the moment they started boring into us up and spat us out. I was ready for my already fragile brain (30 minutes a warm bed that didn’t reek of sweat, late, I might add) with what sounded dust and that beer Jacques Moolman like badly produced thrash metal: spilled in my tent. So, what have we learnt? You may “This isn’t Thornfest; I’m too old for this s**t.” I’m just not that angry about have unknown brothers, but never life. Not even all the black-clad prepu- stand behind them when they’re dancbescents seemed to like it. The Oppi ing on tables wearing a comfortable guys kicked them off stage when their rum jacket. You will get hurt. And if time was up, which was satisfying. anyone finds my MiMoney card, please Sum 41 had cancelled their show in burn it as a sacrifice to the rock ’n’ Durban on Saturday, because of wind roll gods. (the atmosphere’s, not the band’s). But the post-punk revival stars duly per- g Watch our online interview with formed on the main stage at the koppi a member of Famaz Attak hanging on Sunday, to everyone’s delight. But upside down from a tree. True story because they played at 12am, there was a bit of telltale elbow room in which to dance – which meant that a few thousand inexperienced festival goers hadn’t paced themselves and were already passed out in, on or outside their tents. I spotted a few. Pity, really. It was an amazing show, but I couldn’t help but feel the band has strayed too far from its punk roots and is focusing too much on the heavier side of its sound. Still, this didn’t deter the few screaming fans invited to dance on stage from giving it their all. Captain Eric, Mountain Man and I left on Monday (after chilling a bit, of course) taking a leisurely and far more careful (ahem, cop free) drive home on the R511 to Jo’burg. Scratched, UNkNoWN sPoNGEBoB: AN UNkNoWN sIsTER RoCkING bruised, frustrated and coughing up THE ’koPPI DANCING sHoEs a lung, Unknown Brother had chewed PICTURE: JoHNATHAN WooD

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