South Africa: Tune Me What - Going Bos in the Bush

13 August 2014

In this episode, we join in the chorus of congratulations to wish the Oppikoppi music festival a happy 20th anniversary. The festival which began on a farm about 200km north of Johannesburg in 1994 showcasing alternative rock on a modest stage has grown into a southern African 'Glastonbury' with multiple stages catering for different genres of music over a long weekend.

As the festival's reputation has grown it has been able to pull top local talent and many established acts have become an annual draw, putting Oppikoppi at the top of everyone's musical calendar. In recent years, it has started attracting overseas bands too, and last weekend's 20th year celebration featured acts from half a dozen countries.

Brett, who played there several times with two of his former bands, has some very fond recollections:

"One of my favourite memories is from one of the early Oppikoppies in 1995 when I played with my band Occam's Razor. A group of us from different bands were chilling out in the courtyard outside the bar on the top of the koppie [hill]. Someone produced an acoustic guitar which found its way into the hands of our drummer, a pretty dab hand on the guitar himself. With members of the Springbok Nude Girls and a heavy metal band whose name I can't remember joining in, he led us all through a journey of the Abba songbook!"

"Another great memory was playing early in the evening on New Year's Eve and then heading out front to watch Band of Gypsies play in the new year. Band of Gypsies were a favourite of mine and Leon's when we used to hang out in Jo'burg's arty Rockey's Street in the early-90s.

They were a trio made up of 'a really old guy' and his two sons and they specialised in hard-and-fast Jimi Hendrix covers and played a tiny club called Dylans. But at the dawn of 1996, they owned that giant stage at Oppikoppi and rocked ten thousand people - the ones still conscious - into the New Year."

This year's event saw the reunion of one of Tune Me What?'s favourite bands: Urban Creep. There's a great video of the very young Urban Creep playing a special and intimate show in the bar at Oppikoppi in addition to their appearance on the main stage.

We really wished we had been there for the festival this year, but because we couldn't be we did the next best thing and played an hour of bands recorded live at Oppikoppi.

Some of these performances can be found on YouTube and others can be found on a live CD called Oppikoppi: Live (which is as rare as hen's teeth, but can sometimes be found on eBay or Amazon Marketplace; but beware, other than this one, the other Oppikoppi CDs are in fact compilations of artists who have performed there, but not actually recorded there.)

This is the one you want!

Anyway, with a show featuring a host of acts from aKING to Zakes Bantwini, we really think you'll enjoy the an hour of Oppikoppi with Tune Me What?! Perhaps next year you'll head over to the north Limpopo with your tent, camping stove and party hat!

Listen here.

Tune Me What? is a podcast and blog by Brett Lock and Leon Lazarus that highlights South African music and artists at home and around the world. For more information, visit or

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