Rocking Out In The Bush: South Africa’s 2018 Oppikoppi Festival

In the United States, young hipsters anxiously await for Coachella to open its gates while European rock fans jam out to big-name bands at the Reading and Leeds Festivals. South Africa has its own annual music festival that lasts for a few days, with musicians dropping lots of rock, Afro beats and psychedelic trance before a swaying audience. From August 9 to 11, 2018 in Limpopo Province, just outside the small town of Northam, South Africa’s Oppikoppi Festival is a long-awaited event where each year, dozens of talented bands and musicians grace the stage. Music ranges from jazz funk, to rock, to electronica, meaning whatever music you’re in to, you’ll find something right up your alley in its lineup. Other genres found in the lineup include ska, punk, folk and kwaito.

The very first Oppikoppi event debuted in 1994 with Koos Kombius and Valiant Swart, along with just a few hundred attendees in a local bar. Since then, the number swelled up to 20,000 music lovers strong and a lineup as long as Lollapalooza. In fact, the name “Oppikoppi” is Afrikaans for “on the hill,” an easy explanation of its iconic location on a hill on a farm. The concert is getting so popular that planners are already hosting additional smaller, more intimate concerts to kick off the holidays like New Years and Easter. The first thing you’ll notice when arriving to the farm to start your music festivities is the reddish dust spiraling in the air like a John Steinbeck novel that gives it an AfrikaBurn touch. Camping tents are scattered across the farm with music lovers setting up temporary fire pits, dangling boerewors over the heat for meals from the comfort of their lawn chairs. There are four types of campsites that can accommodate you to your liking from very rustic to “glamping,” where you’ll have access to clean showers and a five-star breakfast buffet. Campervans and caravans are also allowed on its grounds.

Music isn’t the only medium of art that’s dominating the festival. Throughout the event, a variety of street performers and visual artists wearing stilts in colorful costumes resembling birds and other animals will rhythmically move around crowds, giving the audience an Instagram-worthy photo shoot. Concert attendees also love to dress up in costumes so its common to spot Elvis impersonators, sailors, pirates and people running around in nothing but their tighty whities. A series of small fun events are scheduled like mud sliding (where instead of a water slip and slide, a makeshift mud slide is in place instead). For the remainder of the event, you’ll find people caked in dried mud and coated with dust as a proud testimony of music and hedonism.

This August’s lineup includes talented acts like 25K, Above Atlas, Android 18, Bam Bam Brown, House of Kuumba, Sea of Green, The Black Cat Bones and many more. Don’t feel like you’ll need to pack a handful of coolers filled with edible goods to keep you going for the next few days, there’s plenty of food trucks that will be setting up in its food section and serving a variety of cuisines. Natural Mystic will serve up traditional dishes loaded with spices, Exotically Devine Italian for fresh pasta and Braai Guru for meat. Other food trucks that are signed up for this year’s event are Baha Taco, Maverick Coffee, Panini Bistro, Brohemian Pizza, Stirfry Queen, Ivory Pot Restaurant and Sumting Fresh. You might want to pack at least one cooler full of meat though to cook up your own braai for your friends. You can also get your shopping done as well at its Merchandise section, where vendors display their best goods like concert tees, hats, posters and more.

When planning for the event, it’s advised to purchase your tickets online in advance and keep in mind that once you’ve stepped into the farm, cash isn’t accepted at any of the vendors or food trucks. Instead, you’ll be issued a cashless card where you can pour whatever amount you wish you’d like to spend. It’s also important to remember to leave your favorite outfit at home, as this isn’t the place to show off your newest jacket from the Gap. Wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty as you’ll occasionally sit on the soil and dance in a cloud of dust as concert goers kick up more of the dirt into the air when their favorite band comes on. But you won’t care about that once the wave of intoxicating beats rush over you in the heart of Limpopo’s bush.

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