Up the Creek 2015 was marked by schizophrenic ups and downs in weather: a scorcher of 30+°C on Friday dropped down to the miserable rainy 20s of Saturday. But through it all the music kept on pumping even if it meant a temporary merging of the Sedgewick’s (River) stage and Hunter’s stage.
Friday night’s lineup was so solid that any of the bands could have been the headliner. With all their radio play Beatenberg is great in theory but they didn’t really have the grit to capture the hearts of hardcore creekers. Al Bairre paid their dues at the River stage last year and deserved every inch of main stage the band danced over. The only taint on a rocking set by Zebra & Giraffe was that they only played one new song, ‘I’ve Been Bad’ – a shame as their latest album Knuckles is brilliant. The actual headliners Taxi Violence – who along with The Black Cat Bones should never be left off a UTC lineup – had a solid if somewhat egotistical set.
After being woken by bagpipes on Saturday, we spent our morning huddled under a soaking gazebo playing checkers with nuts and washers pieces on a board made up with duct tape, and inventing new cocktails with Sedgewick’s (the “I will never let go, Jack” was a real winner) while watching our neighbours make brief goosebumpy trips to the river. It was a creeking awesome day, though I’m still jealous of an earlybird’s crimson sunburn earned from a Friday morning float.
But Up The Creek isn’t just about its river (okay 99.01%). It also throws together diverse artists for some killer collaborations. Al Bairre and a few of the guys from Nomadic Orchestra performed a bouncy mashup of ‘Walking on Sunshine’ and Beyonce’s ‘Halo’. Bandolero can only be described as a dynamic musical extravaganza. The 15-odd supergroup led by the excessively charismatic Andre Kriel from The Black Cat Bones had the crowd’s attention with an endless stream of legends, newbies, rockers and blues men on stage including Piet Botha and Gareth Wilson. Every time I blinked it looked like a new band on stage.
Great new finds – and a much needed dose of oestrogen to the festival – included Bye Beneco and Diamond Thug. Bye Beneco had a sophisticated sound overlaid with childish percussion on charming songs such as ‘Vampire’ and ‘Space Elephant’.
Being a diligent reviewer I explored an aspect of the festival experience grossly overlooked in my 15+ previous music festivals: the medic station. To the beat of Nomadic Orchestra I took a graceless tumble out of the little Cowgirls’ room and by the time the Plus One got me to the medics, a size 7½ was bursting out of my size 6 Converse. Supplies in the tent seemed rather sparse, not even a box of tissues or a toilet roll in sight but December Streets’ set was very soothing as I waited for the painkillers to kick in. Having declared my injury a mere sprain, the medic taped up my foot with ice from the bar – something of a hidden bonus, given that the bar doesn’t sell ice to civilians and our drinks were getting warm.
On paper my Up The Creek experience might not look that great, but despite missing out on my annual float down the river and the fact that I’m writing this with an elevated foot, Up The Creek 2015 was a festival to remember.
A generous plate of spit braai with all the trimmings from the friendly people at the Plaas Kombuis at R60 a plate
Liferafts, Titanics and Icebergs
Loyalty from festival goers, organisers and acts. It was Taxi Violence’s 8th consecutive year.
Kindness of strangers: a wonderful blonde lady helped me after my tumble and checked on me afterwards.
Zebra & Giraffe
The weather. Excuse me for being Capetonian but Saturday was less than ideal.
The roads. Still being scraped on Friday creating dangerous bottlenecks for those arriving in the dark.
No free drinking water. And to make it worse Friday’s rate of R5 was doubled on Saturday.
Up the Creek 2015 ran 29 January to 1 February 2015.