I have no idea where to start my recount, of one of the best music festivals I have ever attended. The Splashyfen 2016 Revival was hosted here in Southern Africa in the Underberg Mountains over this past Easter weekend.
It’s pretty evident that I was not the only one who experienced all its greatness as people are still posting on the #splashy2016 tag on social media platforms.
So before I talk about the heartache of leaving and the utter reluctance to let go, I guess I should tell you, being my readers why I feel so? And that means I have to start at the beginning.
The Splashyfen music festival has been going for 26 years. It is one of South Africa’s oldest and longest running music festivals, setting the bar high for all other events hosted of the same nature. To me Splashyfen is not about the “big” names, it has the ability to pull in or the idea of getting sloshed/drunk/nameless for five days. Its about actually celebrating and supporting musicians, camping, meeting new people, making new friends, going on random adventures and just being free.
Possibly this is what separates it and makes it what it is. Splashyfen started with a group of artists and founders Bart Fokkens and the late but never forgotten Peter Ferraz on one roofless stage in the middle of the mountains. I am pretty sure there were renditions of kumbaya around the camp fires and gluhwein on the cool evenings if that’s where your minds going.
Twenty six years later a new management team, a new layout and a dose of love and peace, and Splashyfen is back on top of the game. The team from Impi Concepts jumped on board this year to make what will be quite the historic change in the festival for years to come. I know this because I am already prepping for #Splashy2017 and so should you. Watching everyone setting up camp and getting into the groove was a truly special feeling.
The atmosphere was electric, the crowds were ready and the music was flowing. Once the craft beer tents and vendors opened for business Splashyfen 2016 was in full swing. It was great to see the team from Robsons Real Beer pouring some of their magic goodness! And yes the famous HAMMER OF THOR made its appearance at this years #Splashyfen. Here’s to those who fought with the mighty brew. *Giggle*
And whats a music festival without some serious food! After a few of Thor’s Hammers it was great to be able to tuck into a variety of food. And when I say choice what I mean is choice!! Brands like Spur and The Digs Kitchen were serving up some serious cuisine and pancakes were a standard breakfast option from vendors and the Red Frogs Team. Coffee was served by the brilliant team at Marley Coffee and if you needed a snack there was always time for a Falaffal and if you needed something bigger for lunch, you had the option of digging into an amazing Chicken Chow Mein……..which I did…on several occasions…..but we’re not here to talk about that. *Blush*
Driving and walking around the festival over the weekend, I was so excited to see everyone just letting go. There was a group of guys who had taken it upon themselves to dress up as Banana’s for the weekend and boy did they bring some real Splashyfen flair to the event. At first there were just a few and by the third day I could swear they were more than 20 strong. An amazingly hilarious moment was when they happened to loose one of their beer funnels and had an announcement made on the PA system inquiring as to if anyone had found it. I tell you that had everyone on site laughing themselves silly. And that’s what it’s all about. Not to take any credit away from their funnel skills either as they chugged through the day with their mobile funnel hybrid.
And then it was time, now let me not leave out the fact that I had traveled up to Splashyfen with friend and well known photographer Al Nicoll. Al was the offical photographer for the Spashyfen 2016. Tim Lubbe, Al and I had created what we ended up calling The Dream Team. Al ran, walked, stalked, and marched around Spashyfen like a super human being in he’s transformer like gear capturing the essence of Splashyfen with Tim and I followed mentally writing this little piece in my head as the days passed and the energy built up to a point of explosion! And boy did it explode. The bands one after the other were mind blowing. There was no favorite act for me, I couldn’t choose if you paid me, we were so spoilt with talent I don’t think anyone knew where to look or go or be first!
Absolute legends in the South African Music scene and crowd favorites Mango Groove were one of my favorite acts to watch. They had everyone on their feet busting out some serious moves. I think I actually hurt my leg during one song but who care’s it was electric! The stage, the band members and of course the rolling cheer from the crowd when Claire stepped on stage! I have no other to describe her fire other than saying she must be South Africa’s Aretha Franklin! Donned in some faux leopard print attire, bright red kickass lipstick and vooma! She and the crew that is Mango Groove bought the house down! We were whipping and jiving and shaking our bootys all over the show!
Goodluck were on stage after Mango Groove and boy did they have Cee dancing. After shaking my booty with Claire I was quite thirsty and ran out to get a refreshment, coming back I noticed the view of the stage and audience highlighted under the lighting from the back. Completely convinced that my heart would give out if I danced anymore, I decided to watch from the back of the tent.
Jules of course was having a ball on stage and getting everyone moving. And after much fighting with myself I somehow ended up letting go and completely going mental at the back. You just can’t deny the way GoodLuck get you going! It was also great to hear the band thank Durbanites for putting them on the map when they first started making waves. Whoop Whoop! And yes, my Splashyfen Pineapple Pants made an appearance!
If you’re more about solo guitar moments and electric fingers then Dan Patlansky was your man! Dan was most certainly the man with a plan. Having followed some of he’s career of late and listening to the sweet sweet music he deliverers, I was obviously front row mid afternoon to listen to him! Dan came on stage in blue jeans, a dark shirt and a smile. I think for those who had not heard this artist play before the surprise was worth it. Slowly he started picking at guitar strings much like a kid who picks all the olives out of a salad. If Dan was the kind of kid who picked olives out of he’s salad I’d imagine he’d be a Masterchef winner by now! Holy smokes!
There I stood looking at him doing something supposedly simple but the sounds that transmitted through my ears to my brain, which took my breath away and wrestled with my heart disagreed! To me Dan’s voice sounds like a mix between the band Creed and Seether but with a little something special thrown in. It’s almost like he has a pocket of fairy dust on him at all times and when he has to get on stage he just sprinkles a little over him. What a performance.
I think it was at the point where he was so lost in what he was doing and lifted the guitar over he’s head and played it backwards when everyone’s jaw’s just hit the floor. And so stunned were we, that’s where they stayed for the rest of the show! It had me referring to teenage phrases like “what even” and “I can’t even deal right now”.
Anytime Dan Patlansky wants to come for coffee, I will go out and buy a coffee machine. That’s All! The guy in the below image, he understands how I feel. *Giggle*
Speaking of excited fans and festival attendees, the crowd this year deserves a huge High 5 in my opinion. After speaking to Stu Berry about the festival and plans for the future I was enlightened to hear that this years festival had hardly any reports of theft or crime, in fact it pretty much defied the odds, with the amount of people on site and the lack of any aggression one would usually find at a festival. Yet another thing I truly appreciate about Splashyfen, know one is there to cause problems. Honestly those who attend this festival are genuinely there to just be happy and have fun. The festival is home to attendees of all ages and group. The mix between race, sex and age is from end of the scale to the other and its brilliant!
Between concerts there was much to explore, watching the graffiti artists create new murals everyday featuring some of the bands playing was always an interesting treat. The River stage provided for a great place to take a dip in the river while sipping on some Flying Fish Beer and listening to the bands play! Some even making the most of the hill and sliding down on their lilo’s. Much like the term “pics of it didn’t happen”, you didn’t Splashyfen if you didn’t have a FlyingFish!
After watching an amazing line up on the main stage Saturday evening which consisted of Lunatic Wolf, Josh Wantie and Go barefoot, the crow was ready to really put their all into the evening! As I stood there in front row, among thousands of people waiting for Xavier Rudd to take the stage, I watched as the emotions were reflected on peoples faces. After watching everything from a carpet, a pot of tea, and the famous didgeridoo being placed on stage, I was twitching! I listened to ladies in the audience declaring their undying love for Xavier and men doing much the same. And then with the light set down low, a shadow moved forward onto the stage and placed itself on a chair. Screams exploded from the crowd and then dead silence. Obviously they knew something I didn’t. The next sound that broke the crystal clear silence was wild. I say wild as in a primal, dominant beast like groan! Xavier was on the didgeridoo.
I was lost from that first moment. The world around me disappeared and something deep inside me stirred with violent emotion. I don’t know where it came from but it was hypnotizing. Between completely mastering the didgeridoo and the guitar both at the same time at points, Xavier would talk to us, tell us to give thanks to the skies the mountains, and the oceans. I felt so connected, so connected that I started crying. It was just such beautiful, beautiful music. An example of the talent and the power which us humans have to create, and a reminder of how much we destroy.
As he came to the last song in his set, the crowd came up and over the trance we’d been in and like little dots we all connected to make the circuit fire. Wiping away my tears and feeling changed I watched as he danced around the stage, free. I wanted to be that free, unconsciously I started waving my hands in a bird like motion, and two seconds later he was looking directly at me and calling me onto the stage. Yes, you read that right. Xavier Rudd, stopped mid song and demanded I get on stage with him in front of thousands of people. After much convincing and being airlifted over the railing and onto the stage by non other than my Dream Team mate Al Nicoll I and another lady called Sannna were huddled backstage and brought onto the stage. Xavier with arms wide open engulfed us in a huge hug, filled with everything he’d been singing about, peace, love and freedom. And then we danced, we danced and jumped and got lost in the moment. Life Changing.
Giggling like school girls as we left the stage, we looked up and there he was again, just standing with arms wide open. He shared some words with the both of us, which I will not tell you about but keep close to my heart and mind forever more.
And that was not the end of it, following Xavier’s set we were further treated to an insanely energetic Jeremy Loops and band lightning up the stage. Not only is Jeremy a great performer but not many people know he is also an amazing photographer. If you haven’t yet, have a spy on he’s Instagram feed.
And of course the evening was not complete without watching one of my favorite bands, Rubber Duc who gave us the perfect close to an amazing evening. Such a talented band, who break the stereotype over and over again. Very proud of this South African group!
And then somehow we were on the last day of Splashyfen 2016. Walking into the main tent, the vibe was cool, calm and collected. People lay spread out on blankets, lilo’s and even the grass, while listening to the amazing sounds of the various Jazz artists. The sun sat low and everything had a shine too it. Almost as if nature knew too that this was our bittersweet goodbye.
Between the pop up stages, the trail runs, the drumming circles, the tennis nets there was always something new to experience!
Splashyfen you’ve outdone yourself. It was an absolute winner in my books and I am already prepping for #Splashyfen2017. All the hard work and investment into this years festival most certainly showed and has paid off. The artist line up was fantastic, the grounds were clean, the vibe was light and I don’t want to say goodbye!
A huge thanks to Stu Berry, Kendall Snyman and the entire team who made this event what it was. A big thanks to Al Nicoll as well, both for the images and for making Splashyfen so much fun!
And As Always…
You can find me under the name: CeecesTravel on all my social media platforms: Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram.