Posted by Aileen Raymond Saturday, May 4, 2013 0 comments

Now the thing with a new festival: There's no long queues getting into the festival on Friday, no long queues at the bathrooms and the best of all - You get to stand right in front of the stage. Utopia is the fresh, new-comer on the music festival scene and it looks like they are here to stay. Despite really low crowd numbers throughout the weekend, it looks like this will be the first and last time we got to party like we own Utopia.

We arrived at Nekkies near Rawsonville on Friday just after 7pm. It was a beautiful night which felt more like a late Summer's night than mid-Autumn. We were greeted by a couple of tents organised in two neat rows with a few campsite lights burning and some music in the distance. Perrrrrfect, I thought. What better way to finally end off the music festival season than at this amazing venue with this unbelievable weather?

The line-up was quite the mixture of different genres ranging from Rock to Afrikaans Hip Hop. Almost like someone drew SA band names out of a hat and then created the line-up. Nothing wrong with that!

For us, the festival started with Mr. Cat and The Jackal. What a musically talented band and oh so entertaining! They have a kind of theatrical performance, which I really appreciate. The amount of musicians that take part creates this really rich, layered sound that not a lot of bands have. Their performance of "Where is my shoes" is my personal favourite and ultimately I will do my best to see them at their next Cape Town gig.

I listened to most of Karen Zoid's set from the camping area and then went to the stage for her last two songs. I found her in a very strange outfit. Was that red and white striped pants? Nevertheless, she rocked the crowd like the true rock 'n roll legend she is.

After Karen Zoid we spent some time at the bar where we bought really affordable drinks from a really unique list of alcohol. Then it was time for a very different kind of act.

For the first time I watched Bittereinder live. My, my, my... Now what have we here? The Pretoria trio offers something very different to any other SA artist or band. They've got this strange sound that actually makes you want to move uncontrollably. Well done to Louis Minnaar who gives a crazy performance even though it looks like it's without much effort. B-I-T-T-E-R-E-I-N-D-E-R now that I know just who you are... I like you!

Saturday we got up early. It was a bit misty and we thought that this might spoil the mood for the rest of the fest, but this festival wasn't named Utopia for nothing. It turned out to be a beautiful day filled with good music and great weather.

We watched some comedy, but a little more on that later. Then we spent some time at the Electro/Oasis Tent/Stage. Since Synergy 2011 I've struggled to have a good time at electro tents. Is it the DJ's, the environment or just me not being as high as some of those kids? In any case, it looked as if the small crowd had a great time, dancing bare foot (like you should) with huge grins on their faces.

Back to the Main Stage.

Hot Water was up next. They are a unique, culturally inspired band. I think I've seen them once or twice before at Zula Soundbar and they have quite the following there. Although it's not my type of music, I appreciate their passion and unique appearance and sound. It seems as if they are always having a ton of fun. I believe that South African festivals really need bands like Hot Water, because they create a cultural and artistic feel to the festival scene, which otherwise will go lost between all the dop and dub. And some festival-goers still appreciate this type of music.

The rest of Saturday was spent lying on the grass in the shade sipping on a cider like festival royalty. The music was good, the scenery was absolutely amazing and the drinks really affordable. We were being as lazy as possible because the line-up for the rest of Saturday looked fantastic with aKing, Desmond and the Tutus and Fokofpolisiekar still to play.

Red Huxley. These guys deserve a bigger fan base, bigger crowds and ultimately a better slot on any festival's line-up. The Cape Town based band has a very raw quality to their music. They perform like I think all true rockers should: basic, raw, hard and without any trimmings. It is no wonder they are soon going to record with Dave Catching from Eagles of Death Metal in America. Well deserved, boys.

aKing's performance was like a fague Stellenbosch memory to me. Since I have not seen a gig from them in a very, very long time it felt a little like I suddenly remembered a piece of my past. Front-man Laudo Liebenberg gave it his all while Van Halen on the bass looked somewhat pissed off through most of the set. They gave a good performance of old favourites. Still one of my favourite SA bands of all time.

Loved Desmond and the Tutu's. A very fun set from the guys. I must admit, it's a band I used  to ignore a little. WHAT!? Never again. Definitely the most entertaining performance of the whole festival.

The last band was probably also the most anticipated: Fokofpolisiekar. By now everyone knows: These guys are legends. They do rock their crowds so well. It is almost as if you are sure to have a good time watching them, no matter the venue or crowd. Their performance at Utopia was no different. They played all their famous songs: loud and in your face. I seriously don't know how anybody can not agree that they are the kings of the SA rock scene. Fokofpolisiekar, may you rock for years to come!

Like with any other festival, Sunday (or the last day of the fest) is marked by the ever-present post-festival depression. We don't know why we get it or how to get rid of it, but it comes around like the annual Winter flu. So, you do what you can to make the best of it.

On Sunday we spent an hour or two at the Go BOS Stage. A neat little tent sponsored by BOS Ice Tea, that served as a platform for up-coming bands or just anyone who wanted to make some music. For the first time I saw The Inside Job. It was a nice little set. I would like to see them on a bigger stage with a bigger crowd next time. It was almost as if they kept their energy in and I'm sure the lack of space had something to do with it.

Black Market Riots was up next. Also a first for me. And I was pleasantly surprised. From what I've heard, they've shared the stage with some serious SA rock bands. A little hurricane of energy came from lead-singer Danie de Villiers who showed us why we should be upset for not seeing them live before. They really are an all-or-nothing kind of act and proved that even in front of a small crowd, they bring their best. Give these guys a decent slot on the MAIN STAGE next time, please!

The comedy stage was a big favourite. Although I've heard a lot of the jokes at previous festivals and comedy nights I enjoyed lying in the shade and observing some of SA's brightest comedians doing their thing. I think my personal favourite must be new-comer Schalk Bezuidenhout. I think it makes him even funnier, telling his jokes with this heavy Afrikaans accent. Also, funnyman Brandon Murray knows how to work a crowd and I can seriously say that he is one of the better MC's I've seen.

While I was packing up our tent on Sunday, I felt it: Utopia gave me a proper slap through the face (in a good way). And that from a festival in its first year? I recommend go try it for yourself next year.

Utopia, you did well.

I look forward to seeing what they will do with the festival next year. But one thing's for sure: Expect bigger crowds.

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Ditulis oleh Aileen Raymond
Rating Blog 5 dari 5
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