I woke up on Friday morning at OppiKoppi 23 – Me Now The Mango Picker, in my kak-hot tent, with a headache, loud music blaring, neighbours loudly talking bullshit and a skrik-vir-niks wet-wipe clasped in my hand. As OppiKoppi rituals go: I first blew my nose, awaiting a small construction site’s worth of dust and brown gunk to be splattered across the wet-wipe. For the first time ever… my snot was clear – something had changed – OppiKoppi had changed.
I’ve been a devout OppiKoppi goer since I was a laaitie, and the festival helped me as a person. You laugh, but it really did. I was comforted by the idea of going to the same place each year, a place where I felt safe and secure, met new people, rekindled old romances around fires and saw familiar sunsets and landscapes. A place where music filled my soul and rum filled my belly… OppiKoppi became a second home to me.
Now, as is the same for any human being, feeling comfortable is flippen great, until someone rips that comfort out from under your feet. One may even resort to throwing a vloermoer, and protest childishly about the change – arms flailing. I admit that I had my hangups about the festival being moved when I first heard of the change of date. I immediately got apprehensive about the rain, the heat, the lineup, the different music and the new rules. I was upset by everything that had changed… I was throwing a vloermoer to be very honest, like a blerrie onbeskofte juvenile.
The inherent pulling force of OppiKoppi, which is a strong one at that, was too much to resist, so off I went. This was also the first year that I hadn’t made a print out of the lineup because there were less acts that I wanted to watch. I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m a music snob, but I thought to myself: maaaaybe I’ll hear something completely different this time around. Maybe it’s not as bad as I’m allowing myself to believe it is.
Fokken kyk nou daar! That’s exactly what happened! I still watched all of my favourite bands that I can watch at a bar back home, with the exception of being forced to watch bands and musicians that I would never have watched in my hometown. I got to speak to and jol with homies that I would never have met in my social bubble. I got to feel different sentiments and sensations… and then I realised that I was learning, experiencing, growing and embracing the change.
I am a lover of all things rock n’ roll, and every South African has the right to adore whichever music floats their boat, but in the same breath, we should be open to change. It’s a given that the music is always phenomenal at OppiKoppi. This year however, I found that it really did invite and celebrate the initiation of change for the first time in it’s history, with the likes of Mafikizolo, Black Coffee, Langa Mavuso, an array of international heavyweights and local hard-hitters which would not normally be found on the list of acts.
Everyone has a moment at OppiKoppi, and oh boy do I wait in delight in that moment, every single year. I became worried on the last day, wondering when my moment would come. Would I miss the magical moment this year? And then it arrived… more beautiful and sincere than any other OppiKoppi moment I have experienced before: Black Coffee – Saturday Night. The crowd was unexpectedly huge and rife with anticipation. I found myself towards the back of the crowd, mostly because I couldn’t get any further forward in and amongst a completely mixed masala of humans. Black Coffee began playing his set and towards the second song, I turned to my left and saw a young fellow standing in his green cleaner’s uniform with a black plastic bag slung over his right shoulder. He was at OppiKoppi, distracted for a moment in time from doing his job, entranced, the pure joy and admiration in his eyes was incredibly moving. He was being transported away from his job in that moment to a place of pure bliss. I offered him a smoke, bringing him back to reality, he smiled and accepted and told me that Black Coffee was his hero. It was the first time that he was seeing him perform live, soon after he vanished into the electric crowd.
I stood there and reflected, I was choked up and found myself thanking OppiKoppi. I was grateful to find myself in a situation that I had never been in before. Exposing me to music I would never have given the time of day to, allowing me to experience true human interactions that I will never, ever forget.
I still got to have a hangover every day, I was just as capable of throwing my many names away on numerous occasions, I was still able to connect with beautiful souls, both old and new, and I still got to watch amazing musicians and bands take to the stage. But most importantly, for the first time, Oppikoppi gave me the opportunity to embrace change.
I feel like OppiKoppi’s Mangoes have dropped, yes I’m referring to a sack of balls, and I am deeply happy that they have.
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” ― Lao Tzu