Tuesday, 6 November 2012

All my days

Where to camp?
A while ago I read Where The Music Never Stops: A Sobering Account Of Festival Culture by Joey Power on Thought Catalog, and damnit, I should have heeded his words, but still I went. Where? To Mieliepop festival in Lothair, near the Swaziland border. A friend asked me along because he had a free ticket. After the interesting experience that was Rocking the Daisies, I said yes, although somehow I knew I maybe shouldn't have. Ah. The morning of departure I told my mother that I hate camping, I hate not being able to sleep on that useless excuse for an inflatable camping mattress, I hate the sleeping bag, I hate having to schlep everything around, I hate pitching the tent, I hate always being either too cold or too hot, I hate the portable toilets and 5 minute cold showers. Basically, I hate everything about festivals. Except for the music. The music is what makes me forget all the hates and say 'yes' again, every time.

The whole thing didn't start out well. We left an hour and a half later than we should have, I didn't know the people we were driving with, and all in all I was just being insecure about the next three days. Like Joey Power, I kind of felt as though "I'd probably rather get blowfish poisoning than ever go to one of these things again". Which is not the ideal attitude.

So after a few hours of rock/metal blasting at us, we arrive and pitch the tents, but the wind is howling and it looks like paragliders readying for take-off. I get irritated at the other girl who embraces the stereotype of female helplessness. She didn't want to touch the tent cover because it was filthy, she couldn't stomach the sight of raw meat but was fine with it cooked, and she brought a suitcase. Maybe I need more girly friends to appreciate playing the damsel.

The Uriah Heep singer's boots. Hello!
But the bands that played more than made up for my negativity. I thought Uriah Heep was this group of old men who occasionally escape from the home in order to shuffle around on stage whilst  dancing to some pre-recorded track from the 70s. I was wrong. Terribly wrong. Uriah Heep was without a doubt the most fun band there, because of how much their music rocked and because they looked so kind (And those boots!). I just wanted to sit down for a cup of tea with them afterwards and ask them which one would like to be my substitute grandfather.

Their guitarist, Mick Box, made these fluttering movements with his right hand in between using his guitar like I imagine it sounds when I air-guitar. And now for his website's name: heepstermusic. Ba ha ha ha. Heepster. He has this little blog going, and he wrote about coming to SA and bla bla, but the best part was: "Walking around the site it felt like a sort of ‘Hippy,’ festival, just like the old days. There were however some really good bands, and a couple of those that I really enjoyed listening to in my room were, 'The Tidal Waves,' and 'Dan Patlansky'".

Dan Patlansky moves too much for my camera not to make him look blurrily evil.
Patlansky was supposed to play before Uriah Heep, but somehow the schedule was a few hours late, so he played a short set after them. Most people had left, so it was great standing in the front row and not being pushed constantly by other people. Also, one of the guys in our camp site somehow managed to get one of those white patio chairs and passed out, right there. So he missed the entire performance although he had the best, and only, seat.

Other bands that I had never heard of but that were worth a listen were Naming James, Chiba Fly, The Aidan Martin Band and the Smoking Mojos. Jeremy Loops, whose performance at Daisies was not that great, was outstanding here. Maybe it helps to play in the dark, because by then people have gotten up from lounging on the grass all day and a nice little bunched up crowd develops in front of the stage, instead of being dispersed into diasporic groups.

I could edit that for you, Mieliepop.
Overall, the venue itself is really beautiful and because there were only about 1500 people (compared to I think 18 000 at Koppi), the atmosphere was very relaxed. One never had to queue for showers or toilets (although I managed to always have to shower in ice cold water). It was a good festival. Suggestions for next time? To be there earlier or to get someone to save you a spot next to the river, then you don't have to sleep at an incline. And for the organisers to put up the line-up somewhere, or to have flyers with the line-up on, or to make it available online before the festival in a nice little jpeg or pdf. They only had this hand-drawn board next to the stage which was pretty useless.

If you feel like an Afrikaans review of the festival where everything is described as 'befok', look to Wat kyk jy's article.

Tidal Waves (?)

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