Some of the greatest Oppikoppi memories are made while trying to hunt down your campsite. However, this is not a good enough reason to wipe your memory and forget where your temporary tented home is. Street names are clearly marked, and we suggest that you memorise your location (or at least write it on your arm). Street names such as Fokkol Nonsins Draai (named after the late South African painter and musician, Huyser Burger), Ready D (inspired by DJ Ready D) and Beton Boer (named after the Koos Kombuis tune, Boer In Beton), show that this festival never forgets its heroes… and aids its patrons to get to their bundu homes safely.
What started out as a drunken night in the bar on top of the hill soon snowballed into something that’s been revered the world over. Entrance to the first event in 1994 was a six pack of beer and got you front row seats to Koos Kombuis and Valiant Swart in an intimate setting next to kegs of Castle Lager and a pool table. Although the festival started off focusing mostly on rock music, more genres were soon added, and it now plays host to roughly 160 sets of international and South African music and entertainment acts of all genres including rock, hip hop, hardcore, punk, ska, folk, blues, drum ‘n bass, big beats, kwaito, jazz, funk, traditional, world music, comedy, metal, indie, house and others. Oppikoppi has always been at the forefront of what is happening in the socio-economic and political contexts in South Africa and has played its part in changing the country and bringing people together in a spontaneous way.
The first official Oppikoppi (that was not a bunch dudes playing for friends at the pub) was called the Festival Of Rock 1 and acted as a launch pad for the local live music scene. The festival featured Koos Kombuis, Valiant Swart, Squeal, Sugardrive, Battery 9, and Urban Creep, to name a few.
When Oppikoppi started growing, entrance warped from a pack of six suds to R30 per person. These days you can’t even buy a Happy Meal for that price.
In The Year Of Our Lord 1998, this home-grown festival surpassed 10 000 patrons for the first time. That number has now doubled, but we’ll get into that later down the line.
In 2008, British media, The Daily Mirror, ranked Oppikoppi as the 4th best music festival in the world. How ’bout them apples?
Yup. The festival has grown yearly, from around 2 000 attendees in 1995 to around 20 000 in 2016. And we’re expecting that number to grow even bigger in the years to come. Here’s to Oppikoppi 2018 and beyond.
There’s a dude named Nino who’s attended more Oppikoppi festivals than years that some of us have been alive… and he’s got the festival shirts to prove it. We bumped into Nino at OK22, where Jon Savage commemorated him with a bottle of tequila.
At Oppikoppi 2013 a beast of a drone took to the sky over Northam and rained down free beer from the heavens. How did it work? From the Oppikoppi app, festival goers could order a beer and, by tracking their GPS co-ordinates, the drone (named Manna, after the biblical story of bread falling from the sky) would deliver a cold one. This made international news and was picked up by Russia Today and CNN. In fact, it was such a hit that the indie rock band Mumford & Sons wanted in on the deal, and a prototype was presented to their production company.
Chris Kreef, the mad genius behind the 0.5-star Kreef Hotel, started by setting up others’ tents at festivals. This soon evolved into South Africa’s first moveable tent motel (complete with bottomless bacon for breakfast, hot showers and much-needed personal space).
11. James Phillips Mein Stage
Who was James Phillips? Maybe that’s something you shouldn’t ask around older rockers… but that’s why we’re here. Also known as Bernoldus Niemand, or Mister Nobody, James Phillips was an anti-apartheid activist, musician and lyricist from Springs. His impact on the South African rock scene was so big that Oppikoppi named a road and the main stage after this legend. The James Phillips Mein Stage will be groomed prim and proper to once again claim its rightful place as the thatch of thatches and the leading light at a festival that has been, um, going through stages. Expect a tighter and more condensed festival, packed to the brim with bands and artists that reek of faculty and hutzpah.
Renowned graphic designer and artist Resoborg (of Design Indaba fame) was commissioned to do the overall design and official artwork for the Oppikoppi 2018 festival. From designs on skateboards, to corporate illustrations for banks in South Africa, Resoborg offers a professional service in crafting, typography, graphic design, illustration, logos, corporate identity, packaging, art direction and murals.
Since the primary days when jazz records were first played at Oppikoppi, DJ Bob has carefully nurtured his motley audience to become familiar with other-worldly jazz and funk sounds. For the second year running, DJ Bob will be hosting his Jazz Club at Oppikoppi 2018.
Yebo. There’s an app for that too. The Oppikoppi app contains useful information such as a venue map, artist line-up, their time schedules and other useful information. Think of it as your star map to the dustiest weekend of your life; it’ll help you get from A to B… given you’ve not stopped at the watering hole for too long in between travels.
For the first time since the 90s, Oppikoppi 2018 will boast an artist list that’s homegrown from the top to the bottom. Favourite acts to check out this year would be Satanic Dagga Orgy, Sun Xa Experiment and Wonderboom, to name a few… There will be only two bands from overseas as part of the festival’s foreign-exchange programme.
Oppikoppi’s official mascot is a bull terrier named Phleki (that’d be a play on the Afrikaans word vlek, referring to the dog’s dark patch over his left eye). This mascot headed the 2016 creative campaign for the Gert Vlok Nel inspired The Unsea.
2017 was a very interesting and fun year for the Oppikoppi 2018 crew. They saw a Belgian investment, lots of experimentation with dates, acts, partnerships with their friends at Rocking the Daisies, and plenty of behind-the-scenes manoeuvring in the small bar. OK23 saw the festival move dates from the usual August long weekend (well, sort of) to October. For Oppikoppi 2018, the gang had a long hard look at where they are at, all the experimentation of 2017 and also where they want to go for the next decade or so. Out of this, the Oppikoppi 2018 crew narrowed it down to two things: Dust and Tunes. They are really happy to say that the festival will be moving back to August. No rain, no mud. Normal unadulterated chaos and hedonism, mixed with just enough tunes and friends. Nomakanjani, as it were.
Maybe you know this; maybe you don’t. Either way, head over to Spotify, sign up for free and stream the official ruk en rol soundtrack to the fourth greatest music festival in the known universe. Featured artists include Spoegwolf, FPK, Black Cat Bones and Springbok Nude Girls, to name a few.
In 2005 the organisers thought it fitting to introduce the Afro-house duo Mafikizolo to the line-up. According to festival director, Misha Loots, the power went out during the first song, and the crowd lit up the stage with their camp torches, reflecting the proverbial rainbow nation we’ve all been yearning for.
Sticking to the guns honed by the forgotten art of the DIY ‘zine, Oppikoppi publishes a collection of artwork, essays and poetry at the festival called Ons Klyntji (our little one), curated and edited by the legendary Toast Coetzer (travel writer, musician, poet, artist, Katu Vellies brand ambassador and TV star).
Albert Frost has played every single Oppikoppi to date. Yup, even the very first one when he was a lighty playing alongside his dad, Frank Frost (who has an Oppikoppi street named after him), in the legendary South African rock outfit, die Blues Broers.
In May 2017 the Flemish Minister of Culture, Media, Youth and Brussels Affairs, Sven Gatz, announced that Pukkelpop will be teaming up with Hilltop Live, the company that brings us Oppikoppi, to form a new company, Matchbox Live, which aims to grow music festivals in South Africa. Pukkelpop is one of the longest running music festivals in the world and has hosted a long list of A-grade artists. The finer details aren’t well known but we’re excited to see what comes out of this bromance!
Instead of taking up a bursary to study engineering, Carel Hoffman broke the news to his parents: he wants to host rock ‘n roll parties on a farm in Northam. Now, 24 years later, Carel brags with the illustrious title “President for Life and very Primed Minister”. We’re excited to see what Carel Hoffman and the team have up their sleeves for the festival goers of Oppikoppi 2018.
No matter what – that’s nomakanjani translated from isiZulu. That’s the theme for OK24. Oh, and it’s a 1999 hit song by the African queen of pop, Brenda Fassie. No matter what, there will always be an Oppikoppi, baby. In dust we trust!
By Shawn Greyling