Is Lush Fest the New Oppikoppi

Lush Festival, is it the New Oppi?


You may even consider the question to be sacrilegious but if you’ll recall from our review of Oppi last year, and considering all the news, rumours and uncertainty surrounding it, the question, whether there is a festival which can usurp, begs to be asked.

So what of Lush? Green grass, crisper air and a ton more Corona. The coldness of the nights created a frost that only the first appearance of the sun could demystify. The obvious flyby comparison is replacement of dust for mud. Fortunately, I only arrived early on Day 2 and I was told that Day 1 with the darkness and rain was an absolute shit show. Even I, upon arrival, learned that a Toyota RunX can turn left when steering right. I even amassed crowd which applauded me after getting out of the mud. Basically, I was the first live act of Day 2.

First things, first…I was to join my traditional Bloemfontein festival friends at the camp our forward party had demarcated. It was folly of me, apparently, to even believe that my car would be allowed near the camp site. Nope. I was to get a better education of the pain endured by the Voortrekkers than what I did in grade 4. Apparently on Day 1, there was the ability to take your car in a drop things off before taking it back to the designated parking (similarly on the last day to pack up) so that’s an improvement on last year. Furthermore a couple of lucky kids got tractor rides which was totes fun.

Weirdly, all this was satisfying as you got to shlep your load with your mates and then complain about it together. Albeit that I doubt that this was a deliberate move on the part of the organisers, I think fest goers just make the best of whatever situation.

My greatest gripe with the fest was the inability to make a fire. Clarens gets cold and usually despite offers of VIP tickets, I always slum it in general camping at festivals…it’s where the gees is. I learned of myself, however, that gees was not enough to keep me in general camping so I unleashed my inner bourgeoisie and made for the artist camp…they had fire…and Valiant Swart.

The rest of the festival was a grand improvement on its inaugural year. The food vendors were fantastic and the stages were well managed and engineered. While the lavatories could have seriously done with some more frequent cleaning, they were well placed and sufficient in number. Seriously, get too close and the grand smell of urine permeated the air. Mostly, it was a fun festival to be at…albeit probably the most highly sexed festival I’ve been to. Walking back to camp in the early hours of Saturday morning, I heard “your tent or mine” at least 12 times…and “jou tent of myne?” at least 20.

It was pretty obvious that this was the first festival for many of the people, in fact to a critical mass. This critical mass was too large to allow transition of festival etiquette from the seasons veterans to the newbies. It’s the first time I’ve experience this because I recall having to prevent 3 fights and call people out for crashing into lines. Security presence bordered on being insufficient but as far as I know there were no significant issues.

I did spot a poppie fighting with a security guard at the camp/festival border who wouldn’t let her in with her drink (standard procedure). Her response came in an all too telling version of English, “you don’t know who I am”. Kudus to guard though, he held his ground despite being slapped by the drunk idiot…and from ticket issuers to media, the festival team was terrifically friendly and organised.

That being said, it was pretty inconvenient that we weren’t allowed to cross into the festival area with our decanted drink..and would have increased my expenditure had it not been for my new friend, Joburger; a terrific social media personality who supplied all the Jager.

What of the music? Lush was tremendous on that front. Then again most local festivals are because we have amazing local talent. Pity the international act, Temper Trap, was kak, lacked energy and sounded weak. Best performance goes to Francois van Coke with just pure raw energy almost matched by Karen Zoid. Hell, he even did an smashing cover of Beastie Boys’ Fight for Your Right. Along with the fest staples of Matthew Mole, Albert Frost, Valiant Swart and Shortstraw, there were some new acts that are worth mentioning.

If you see names like Simple Stories and Ben Day and the Concrete Lions on a lineup, make some effort to check them out. The Moths are also incredibly fun to jol to so I was bleak I missed that surf jam as I was that I missed Fuzi…but they’ve been around forever and will continue to be so I’ll catch them next time.

Having a DJ stage in the middle of the forest and calling it The Woods was also a fantastic touch.

All told, Lush has it’s issues which means it’s not ready to compete with the big boys but it is still tremendously enjoyable and having doubled its numbers in only a year, is one to watch. The addition of awesome activities for the seriously brave or deliberately stoopid like hikes, runs and hot air balloon rides added to the offering. It’s about time that the Free State has a festival worth bragging about and Lush certainly is that.

Quick shout out to Earl Coetzee who was my partner in crime for the duration of the fest, despite stealing my sleeping bag…but I had his wallet so thanks for breakfast Earl.

I have no doubt that in a couple of years, if they tweak the minor issues, Lush will be one of South Africa’s major fests. Even until then, I’ll be happy to keep going for gees because Lush offered loads of it…and then some. If you can brave the cold and the mud, you’d do well to come to this jol. If you can’t, well then just stay home with your electric blanket you weakling.



Finally, I tried to do an video to indicate the levels of mud and it came out more telling than I intended:

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