“…let it be said that attendees of Oppikoppi do not hold back. As diverse and expansive as it has become, it is not a festival reputed for moderation. By Sunday the wear and tear of two days of Dionysian abandon was apparent on most people’s faces.”
Oppikoppi has over the years progressed from being a largely rock orientated music festival to become a showcase of the most captivating alternative music in South Africa. From Afrikaans folk to stadium rock to funk soul fusion, the festival has traditionally offered a platform for South Africa’s hungry ambitious music talent who choose to push the envelope.
Electronica and dance music is a fundamental part of the South African musical landscape and although dusty, thorn-tree ridden music fests are probably best suited to rock n roll, Oppikoppi has taken in the sounds of DJs and live electronic acts with open arms. The stage that has always been the space for these acts to entertain audiences till the early morning has been the Sipho Gumede stage on the other side of the Koppi. This year the Red Bull Studio was given the opportunity to host the stage and in turn curate all the AV and music. The aim: Quite simply to showcase the best electronica and dance music that SA’s musically rich soil has seeded and grown.
The Red Bull Studio Live stage got going in the early evening of Friday the 6th right about time that the majority of the festival goers had begun to arrive, hungry to get wild and party. Friday was dedicated to straight fours to the floor dance, in particular the ever rich and meteoric house music scene. Pretoria house stalwart Sisco opened the floor and set the mood for straight dance floor filling vibes. Recent Red Bull Music Academy participant Julian Gomez played an incredible set of futuristic deep beats before Phat Jack came on to smash out his trademark addictive jacking sound. By the time that Culoe De Song, one of South Africa’s most remarkable dance music exports, hit the decks the crowd were fixed to their feet, lapping up all the sensual timbres and ever chugging train of bass. By midnight Unsound System had shifted the gears up by taking the deep house sonic into the realms of techno and nu disco, leaving a rapturous audience ready for the bashing electro of Richard the Third. The night ended with Dubstep queen Funafuji, Red Bull Studio head-engineer Audiophile 021 and myself, Richard the Third playing an impromptu one on one on one set of deep bass head music till the early morning.
Things kicked off early on Saturday with the live soul-funk hip-hop of Soulo Starr getting the ever growing festival crowd amped for a slamming weekend ahead followed by Funafuji who, warmed up from the night before, got the dancefloor proper riled up with her pedigree Dubstep. Mr. Sakatumi, never failing to impress, fired up his samplers and bass guitar to show the masses what true “live” electronica is all about. By the time that Voicetag, the self-proclaimed electronic tongue jazz Cape Town crew got on stage, the sun had fallen and the crowd was thick with revellers. The crew’s energy and swagger warmed up everyone perfectly for the explosive Haezer whose electro-punk had a maximum capacity audience simultaneously moshing and raving in wild abandon all the way up the koppi. Markus Wormstorm followed with an epic journey through techno thugging sexiness laying the foundation for Kid Fonqe and Digital Rockit to keep the party going till the early morn.
Now let it be said that attendees of Oppikoppi do not hold back. As diverse and expansive as it has become, it is not a festival reputed for moderation. By Sunday the wear and tear of two days of Dionysian abandon was apparent on most people’s faces: dust, lack of sleep and inebriation. This was a chief concern for the acts set to perform on Sunday that people would just not be amped to go on partying. This was a concern quickly laid to rest.
7ft. Soundsystem, South Africa’s digital dub ambassadors, expertly massaged the somewhat dazed afternoon crowd onto the floor with their lovingly crafted reggae infused beats, a perfect opening for Biscope to make a ruckus with their bootlegging, gnarly bass driven Dubstep. Audiophile 021 relived his Friday night cameo with a full-on set of bass nastiness shooting the crowd straight back into party-mad mood just as Durban hiptronica kings, Spitmunky, jumped on with their classic hip-hop meets electronica sound. The sun fell just in time for one of the best sets of the festival delivered in full force by P.H.fat. Their ripping, swaggering, head-rocking electro-rap shook the earth so much that the audience, no matter what their state, had no choice but to jump in sync to the pulverising rhythm and rhymes. In spirit of the last night of South Africa’s greatest musical festival, Musical Chairs, Grave Danger and Killer Robot kept the dancefloor heaving until it was time to finally call it a night (or day for that matter).
It’s a hard, in a way almost impossible, task to truly showcase a country’s electronica and dance music scene in three days. You could devote the whole stage to one genre and still not include everyone that is contributing to that particular scene. But considering the fact that the Red Bull Studio Live stage was able to provide a platform for a wide expanse on popular genres, from local house to left-of-centre electro, and show off some of the biggest local names making noise around the globe right now, such as Culoe De Song, Haezer and P.H.fat, to an audience of music-crazed festival goers, both exhilarated and exhausted from days of partying on their feet for three days straight, it can be said that future Oppikoppi attendees will undoubtedly look forward to next year’s Red Bull Studio Live stage. Even better is the upcoming Red Bull Studio Live stage at Rocking the Daisies in October. Watch this space.