What your favourite South African music festival says about you

As South Africans, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to music festivals. You know this, but what you might not know is that each of these choices is far more telling than you can even imagine.

RAMfest

There’s a 99% chance you’re still wearing the wristband from your very first RAMfest—the one you attended purely to escape the repercussions of that hit-and-run accident you and your friends don’t talk about anymore. Your favourite colour is black and you believe that men and women should be equal, but especially so when it comes to socially acceptable hair length. You’re pulling devil horns in every single picture of you on Facebook and you have several pet names for your beard. You’ve been in a few bands in the past so you spend the entire festival both feverishly consuming any and all live music whilst solemnly wishing it were you on stage. Your favourite drink is anything that’s in your hand when you’re thirsty. You will spend the days following the festival, weeks even, pining for RAMfest as if it were a lost lover vanished indefinitely, because RAMfest keeps getting cancelled and that makes you sad. You use this sadness as inspiration for the new material you’ve been working on.

RAMFEST

KKNK

You have a “Jesus Is My Co-Pilot” bumper sticker on your car and your house might contain an Apartheid era South African flag, even if you don’t know about it. You were upset when News24 removed their comment sections and you absolutely hate the thing you are reading right now. Sorry.

KKNK

Oppikoppi

Oppikoppi is South Africa’s oldest rock festival but you’re older. You enjoy long treks in the dust at night and seeing how long you can exist without wearing shoes. Where others would call the Oppikoppi’s setting “harsh” or “unforgiving” you prefer “striking” or “a real experience”. Your unwaveringly optimistic outlook is offset by your passion for melodic death metal and skull tattoos. Your favourite T-shirt is anything with an entire band line-up on it and your favourite beer is Castle Lite Lime.

Photography: Charlemagne Olivier
Photography: Charlemagne Olivier

AfrikaBurn

You’re super into sustainability, radical self-expression and self-reliance. The “concept of Capitalism in general” just fucks with your chi. You hire an overpriced VW campervan with GPS, air-con and high-speed, uncapped Wi-Fi and head to Nowheresville in the heart of the Karoo to burn shit down with several acquaintances that will forever be known as your Burn Buddies—and also a mostly naked hippy carpenter named Moonjava who’s managed to organize some sweet sheets of acid from some guy who sells hotdogs on Main Road in Obs. You enjoy themes so broad they can mean basically anything; themes like Tribe, Power, Time and X—literally an open signifier. You enjoy long, moonlit, top-down joyrides in the desert aboard tandem bicycles modded to look like a much browner, less lucky version of Falcor the Luck Dragon from NeverEnding Story. Your other car is a Mercedes.

Photography: Stu Shapiro
Photography: Stu Shapiro

Rocking The Daisies

You love Daisies because it’s all about making great memories with great friends you know? The music is also GREAT but it’s mainly about the experience. You met your significant other at Daisies. LOL. You were both high as fuck and he or she threw up outside your tent and the next morning you stepped in it—but if a little bit of festival vomit isn’t the binding agent in any lasting relationship then you don’t know what is. You don’t mind selfie sticks. You don’t especially care for or carry them, but you kinda just get the genuine demand for narcissism in the golden age of millennialism, especially when everyone around you is so damn good-looking and bronze. You believe in The Environment, which means getting tanked on a farm and wearing a flowercrown “ironically” depending on who’s asking. You share every single one of the DA’s Facebook posts. YOLO.

Photography: Adriaan Louw
Photography: Adriaan Louw

Earthdance Cape Town

You’ve attended every single Earthdance since the day of your 18th birthday; in fact it’s become something of a sacred tradition, a euphoric count down of multi-coloured highlighters on your annual outdoor calendar. After all, you’ve had a penchant for cascading sheets of the fancifully psychedelic nature ever since you broke your Earthdance virginity, and you believe such mind-altering oeuvres to be visionary and representative of a larger, underground culture steeped in years of misconception from the outside world. What was I saying? Oh, you refuse to attend any party where the lighting rig doesn’t include 3D mapping. There’s just no point. You tell yourself you’ll get your act together eventually, but for now you spend all your money on fairy tattoos, psychoactive drugs and kerosene for your fire poi. You stomp, therefore you are.

Earthdance

Synergy Live

You just finished varsity and you don’t just get drunk, you get rekt. You travel in packs because being by yourself makes you self-conscious. When you found out Jungle was coming to South Africa you hit full-flex fanboy and absolutely lost your shit all over Facebook even though none of your friends knew what Jungle was. You enjoy spending the time leading up to the festival commenting on the social media posts of the bands booked to perform in hopes that you might be able to hang out with them backstage once you arrive at the festival—so far, no luck. But you hang in there. You once managed to wrangle a media pass and spent the entire festival in the photographer pit shooting bands with your cellphone camera and feeling infinitely superior to the plebs in the crowd behind you. Your favourite drink is double vodka & Red Bull and you will complain about its price every single time without fail. You’re incapable of speaking an entire sentence of words without name-dropping someone semi well-known and you also might be one of those terrible people who stay at the festival until the very last band strikes the very last chord—sunburnt or not.

Photography: Jurie Senekal
Photography: Jurie Senekal

Up The Creek

You live for the Creek. You’re an expert-level air guitarist and you love letting people know all about it by inadvertently head-butting them mid lead break. You prefer smaller, more intimate music festivals because it makes you feel like you have more friends. It’s also a lot easier to slither drunkenly back to your campsite in the dark when your tent isn’t pitched three kilometres and a lake full of ducks away. UP THE CREEK IS ALL ABOUT THE INFLATABLES and you’ve brought only the best ones in hopes of finally winning the coveted Best Float Award—hell, you’ll even settle for the Most People On A Single Float Award, but that’s probably even less likely because you came to the festival alone, with the exception of your annoying dog who keeps pissing on everybody’s tent. You may or may not be one of Piet Botha’s distant relatives.

Up The Creek

Ultra

You never leave home without a glowstick and you love saying Mzansi instead of South Africa because it makes you feel culturally relevant. You once hung out with Skrillex during his surprise set at Fiction in Long Street and you will literally never shut up about it, ever. It might just be your proudest achievement to date, except for the fact that you’re tight buddies with Chris Jack, whoever the fuck that is. You love a good jol and when you’re not hooking up with hardbodies at Ultra you and the boiyz are painting the town neon and 50 shades of urine yellow at Taager Taager in the Mont bruh.

Photography: Rutger Geerling
Photography: Rutger Geerling

Splashy Fen

You’re only happy when it rains because you’re a certified expert when it comes to partying yourself warm. You own at least four pairs of gumboots (not including the fancy ones) and are friends with at least one white dude with dreadlocks. You might be closing in on 30 years of age, but you still skate every day and you don’t give a single fuck what anyone thinks about it. 360-flip backside tailslide into apathy. You enjoy Splashy for the music and the vibe, but you’re also all about the camping experience. Being momentarily homeless and covered in mud for a weekend is what it’s all about right? Religion? Easter weekends were made for getting drunk and high on a trout farm in the Underberg and you’re pretty sure Jesus would agree. Your best friend is an acoustic guitar named Ben. KEEP CALM AND SHMAAK DURBAN.

Splashy Fen

Flamjangled Tea Party

You have an unnatural obsession with hats bordering on fetish. No one’s ever heard of a single one of bands you’re most fond of and you’re alright with that. “The shiniest gems remain untouched,” you might say with a tip of your hat and a puff off the pipe. You’ve written several profound think pieces on a single topic: why a raven is like a writing desk.

Photography: Aumega
Photography: Aumega

OutLand Festival

Huh? You’re either a blogger or a music journo with free tickets and fairweather friends.

OutLand Festival

Nick Frost writes things and strums strings. Follow him on Twitter at @Nick_Frost.

Cover image: Oppikoppi 2013 by Kevin Goss Ross.

5 Comments

  1. I prefer STRAB, what does that say about me? :p

    Awesome article. Provided some good laughs (happened to be lunching with a bunch of festival organisers when we saw this post).

    Lekker Nick!

  2. “360-flip backside tailslide into apathy”
    You just made my week

  3. someartdirector

    “You share every single one of the DA’s Facebook posts”.

    LOL

  4. This really made me laugh, Nick!
    Thanks!!

  5. Ramfest…what happened to my poor old ramfest? Here’s to holding thumbs for 2017…
    Btw, hating on KKNK man, you hit the nail on the head, I didn’t like what I read there. Contrary to popular belief, Afrikaans people aren’t all racist. At least not anymore racist than most English South Africans. We just happen to be very patriotic about our language.