Monday, August 24, 2009


Once again it's been too long since I last blogged. I sort of think I have an excuse this time, though. Since my last post, I successfully defended my dissertation proposal, taught a 6 week summer course on the "music of New York City" (that was such fun, and I really hope I have an opportunity to revise and reteach it), presented a paper at a conference in North Caroline, and another at a conference in Durban, visited my parents for several weeks, renewed my visa and began my fieldwork. I also, sadly, played the piano at my grandmother's funeral. It was really sad saying goodbye to her.
But this blog post is to be about happier things. Or funnier things, or something. As part of my fieldwork, I attended OppiKoppi from the 7 to 10 August. For those of you who don't know what OppiKoppi is, think hot, dusty farm, colonized by 15000 campers, and 4 stages hosting almost non-stop South African music for three days straight. OppiKoppi means "on the hill", or, with a little creative mishearing, "on the head". I got home very dirty, and sick with flu, but having heard more terrible, mediocre, and superb live music than I normally hear in a year, even here in NY. The highlights for me were Karen Zoid's superb show (the main reason I went in the first place), the Parlotones, who I'm now a serious fan of, after having listened with half an ear to the little bits they have on myspace up until now, a woman called Andra from Namibia, who has the most enigmatic and fascinating voice, and an intriguing group called the Arrows, who have a really cool female drummer. The festival would like to present itself as more diverse than it actually is (it's primarily white and Afrikaans), and the unavoidable clouds of cigarette smoke and drunk, high and crazy revelers who really couldn't care less about the music will probably discourage me from going again, but I'm very glad I did it at least once. The music was completely worth it, and I doubt I'll ever see so much representative South African rock in such a short space of time, again. There really are some great SA bands out there, and even if I'm way out on the periphery of the "scene", I'm falling more and more in love with the music the more of it I hear. Thank goodness for the internet, and the opportunity to hear so much of it here in steamy, summery New York.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that OppiKoppi was declared a national monument, and, more relevant to this blog, and I think more interesting overall, the plaques that make the declaration include Karen Zoid's lyrics "Ons Soek Rock n Roll Om Aan Vas Te Hou" (we want rock 'n roll to hold on to).

So here are a bunch of reviews of OppiKoppi
And some comments from revelers the day after.
Also some free mp3s (not, imo, the best, but fairly representative nonetheless).
And the festival's official website.