SA Festivals Maak ‘n Plan
When the heavyweights collide
We were all waiting for something like this…
The announcement from Oppikoppi just the other day that meant they would be joining forces with Rocking The Daisies was not a complete surprise given the demise of the festival over the last few years. Yes, the dust still clogged up your pores months after you escaped the brutal landscape of Mordor but Oppikoppi had lost some of its sheen recently with a PR nightmare that pitted them against the local artists that are their lifeblood. After the fracas, we didn’t hear much, and I’m sure a few people were wondering about the direction they would take this year.
Sure, there have been complaints about how expensive local artists are with the current exchange rate but what has been unacceptable is the drop in quality from a festival that stood out as the pinnacle of South African music and acted as a Rite of Passage for every young prawn. You had to experience at least three days caked in layers of dust in an attritional environment, kept awake at night by the rampant wails of “Oppi” and alcoholic DMCs until the sun broke out once again and your hangover beat so hard that you had no option but to down a few warm beers that you carelessly left in your dirt graffitied car’s back seat before being able to drag yourself back to the entertainment area and into the maelstrom once more. Here, shades are not optional, they’re your life. And that’s how it was. But then the romance started to fade with poorly arranged line-ups and uncertainty around whether or not they cared about their people. Now, we know, they certainly do.
We know this because Daisies and Oppi have followed what Splashy and Lush already did this year and combined their forces so that they could bring us, hopefully, truly world class talent and an absolutely epic weekend that no self-respecting South African can miss. They realised that by joining forces and pooling their cash, no amount of yet-to-be-fully-realised government incompetence and financial disillusionment will derail what is one of the most authentic South African experiences – the music festival.
What is sad to see is that a festival like RAMfest doesn’t appear to be in any state of recovery any time soon. I can’t speak for Daisies because I’ve never been, but what I’ve heard is that it’s a remarkable experience. But they’ve done themselves a favour as well. I know that some people may see it as Oppi being given a lifeline, but it’s a partnership that works. Daisies is like Oppi’s prettier, and definitely cleaner, younger sister. It’s not about devil thorns and fallen down a mountain of rocks numerous times a night, but is more about sun tanning and sleeplessness in Cape Town’s own weird, fucked up way. I’ve been to a few major Cape festivals and although it’s a less brutal experience, it has a unique way of making you fall in love and never wanting to leave, whereas I have to admit that Oppi has occasionally left me questioning my life choices and wondering how I’m ever going to make it through after the first night. It’s because of this reason that they attract different crowds as well.
The peeps from Joburg who are willing to blow the cash on a trip to Daisies were going to go regardless, and were more than likely putting off Oppi in order to do so (I cannot say this for sure but realistically this is the case for a lot of people I know). By sharing the spoils they can also learn from guys who have been doing this since forever and know how to grow a festival from nothing to one of epic proportions, utilising every ounce of themselves for the sheer stubbornness of throwing a festival through what must have been a whole lot of adversity year on year. And there’s nothing wrong with the brand alignment as well. Now people have a choice, and there’s not this unnecessary competition going on that exists on a non-existent plane in a parallel universe. Collective unity for the 24 hour party people of SA is what we need right now and Oppi and Daisies have answered the call.