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.
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.
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