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The (unofficial) 2015 Oppikoppi Awards

The annual pilgrimage to Northam has been and gone, and the dusty rock city music lovers erect every August is already being longed for by the faithful. Odds are you’ve already scanned over the endless articles praising the authenticity and addictive consistency of this year’s epic event – and I know that if you’re anything like I am, these odes to our favourite festival have done little more than heighten your awareness of the fact that you’re not drinking and dancing in the sun right now.

Which is why I’m not going to write another piece of prose.

 oppikoppi 01

Photograph by Kyle Gregorowski

Instead, I proudly present the (very) unofficial 2015 Oppikoppi Awards (based on my experience):

Most energetic: Gogol Bordello

Watching the gypsy punk masters has always been a dream of mine and seeing their surreal energy in the flesh was nothing short of mesmerising. They broke the mould and every body in the audience and during a set that mixed the charm of Babylon Circus with the energy of an electro set.

Most musically pleasing: Tatran

In a festival that featured numerous hopeful “prog.” acts, the Israeli maestros reminded everyone who was fortunate to watch their set what genius really is. Dense, complex and melodic, what lacked in stage presence was made up for in sheer wizardry.

Most promising: Bark

The small group of intrigued ears who attended this set were blessed. Pretoria-bred trio Bark are touched by a deep, historic sound and remind of early Zeppelin. Their sound is balanced and profound but smooth and intriguing – I predict great things.

Most surprising: The Foolish Braves

Two of SA’s favourite frontmen shared the stage for the ideal festival set. The fact that the acoustic version of my favourite Fuzigish track of all time made an appearance was the cherry on a soulful, sweet show full of bluesy skat and laughter.

Most repetitive: Shortstraw

I have no qualms with Shortstraw – in fact, I value what their sound does for the South African palette, but for some reason this set of indie-driven guitar squeaks was a bit repetitive. Maybe it was just the track listing, but the whole thing seemed to miss the mark, which was a pity.

Most fun: Desmond and the Tutus

The masters of the indie movement produced one of their greatest ever sets to snag the “Most fun” award. Guided by their infinitely eccentric puppet master Shane, this was an effortless experience driven by the energy of a rightfully enamoured crowd.

Most unexpected: Tweak

It’s taken me more than ten years to understand what Tweak is all about. Watching them destroy the stage and singing along word for word gave me and thousands of others a new respect for these natural born entertainers. Quirky, fast, fun – it was super rad.

Best aphrodisiac: P.H.Fat

If aural conception was a thing P.H.Fat would have fathered an entire generation with their set. Dripping basslines and pulsing beats drove the crowd into a frenzy that nearly made me blush. It was very dirty – in a good way.

Most patriotic: Johnny Clegg

Johnny Clegg is the sound of South Africa, and his set confirmed his importance amongst generations of South African music lovers. His demure, humble performance was as inspirational as it was touching, and provided the ultimate soundtrack to an African sunset.

Most entertaining: The Nomadic Orchestra

The Nomadic Orchestra redefined my understanding of brass instruments. Bouncing to the reggae and ska beats produced while the performers defied the physics of performance was one of the highlights of the weekend.

Best Act: Twin Atlantic

From stage presence and interaction to strong lyrical content and genuine appreciation of the moment, the men from Scotland set the crowd alight with a set that delivered on every level. A new favourite that we hope will return to our shores soon.

Twin Atlantic Live At Oppikoppi

Twin Atlantic Live At Oppikoppi -The Fantastic Mr. Vosvos! New Single Release “Fall Into The Party”

(from latest album “Great Divide” – Red Bull Records)

“Our aim was always to make songs this size,” says Twin Atlantic singer Sam McTrusty. “Coming from a punk rock background, it took a while - we like to say we went the scenic route.”

“As catchy as any boy band you'll hear all year, but built with old-fashioned rock-guitar hooks. And a Scottish brogue.” – USA Today

 Twin Atlantic photo Dean Chalkley

Photo by Dean Chalkley

South African fans were elated when the news broke in May 2015 that Scottish rock band Twin Atlantic will be performing in SA at Oppikoppi -The Fantastic Mr. VosVos in August 2015. Twin Atlantic has had a busy year up to date, including an extensive tour in UK. They have been performing to full houses and have received rave reviews following the success of their latest album release Great Divide (Red Bull Records, August 2014.) Q magazine said of the album: “Scottish next big things step it up with an arena-rock-sized swagger” and Kerrang! commented: “If their ascent over the past years has shown us anything, they’ll soon be plunging their flag into the summit of British rock.”

McTrusty says that the band is looking forward to their time in South Africa. “It's going to be a trip of a lifetime for us and something we never realized we could achieve with this band. Now that it's just around the corner, we are really excited about getting to meet new people and cultures at the same time as playing our songs for music lovers in South Africa. We have been playing major festivals in the UK, North America, Europe and Australia so it's with big smiles and pride that we can now say we have been to a whole new continent and rocked with people so far from home. See you soon!”

Since the release of Great Divide the album has produced three hit singles “Heart and Soul”, “Brothers and Sisters” and “Hold On.” The fourth single off the album “Fall into the Party” will be released to SA Radio stations in June 2015.

Listen to the single below: 

That much of Great Divide was written in the back of tour buses, late at night, after Twin Atlantic had stepped off yet another festival stage is evident from first listen. McTrusty comments: “Our adrenaline was through the roof because, for the first time, thousands of people had come to see us. I’d be in the lounge, unable to sleep, recording ideas on my phone, trying to make sense of the reaction we’d had to our songs. You can’t hear 10,000 people singing a chorus back at you and not be changed by it.”

Addictive, arms-aloft anthems with instantly catchy choruses and refrains that beg to be howled back dominate the Glaswegian band’s glorious second album. Bristling with energy and oozing optimism, Great Divide is a rock record with widescreen ambition, inspired by the band watching their own fans and from sharing stages with the likes of Springsteen and Foo Fighters.

Almost three years and over 300 gigs since the release of their silver-selling, debut album, Free, catapulted them from clubs to sold-out shows at Shepherds Bush Empire and the main stage at Reading and Leeds, Twin Atlantic have made a mainstream record that marries their incredible energy live with a more mature approach to songwriting that acknowledges their long-held love of pop.

“We’ve been through our punk rock rebellion phase and come out the other side,” laughs McTrusty. “We’ve all grown up being in this band. Dare I say it, we’re finally fully-formed adults. Since Free, some of us have got married and bought our own places and I’ve spent time in Canada because my girlfriend lives there. When the four of us got back together to work on this album, there was no bullshit. With our own lives sorted, it was easier to see the point of the songs and how we wanted them to sound. And, definitely, part of that was embracing pop.”

Great Divide CD Cover 

The bulk of Great Divide was recorded in Rockfield in Wales with producer Gil Norton (Foo Fighters, Pixies), who also helmed Free. Additional songs were recorded in the States with Jacknife Lee (Snow Patrol, U2, R.E.M.).

Twin Atlantic formed in 2007 when McTrusty and bassist Ross McNae, a friend from school, joined forces with drummer Craig Kneale and lead guitarist and occasional cello player Barry McKenna.  All four had been in previous bands on the Glasgow scene. They bonded over a shared love of alternative rock, punk-pop and the city’s skate and street art scene, as well as a determination to make music their day jobs. Their ferocious shows soon saw them booked to support Smashing Pumpkins, Biffy Clyro and their teen idols Blink 182. Within two years, they had played most major UK festivals and been signed, following a tip-off from Alan McGee, to American label Red Bull Records.

Twin Atlantic will be on stage at Oppikoppi - The Fantastic Mr. VosVos on Sunday 9 August 2015.

Tickets for sale to the festival at plankton.mobi

“Cherish Twin Atlantic. Because they are ours, they are yours, and pretty soon they will be everyone’s. 9 out of 10.” – Rock Sound.

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