This is not going to work. There was no way we would all fit.
It had been my first thought and I said this much to my friend Carlie, but she only shook her head.
“It will work,” she reassured me. “It’s not that much baggage and, remember, we did this with your Yaris back in 2013.”
She made us sound like veterans and I, admittedly, quite liked it. This was not our first music festival, but it was only our second Up the Creek and, even though I was pumped up on excitement and pre-party juice, I was worried about the space to baggage ratio.
Three people’s stuff crammed into still-too-big bags, sleeping gear, tents, chairs, a gazebo, a groundsheet, an oversized, beer can-shaped cooler, floaties, 200 km with a mean stretch of dirt road and one Ford Fiesta.
It was one heck of a ride, but we made it there just before 2 o’clock. With no line, we breezed right through and claimed last year’s camping spot — a prime patch of grass positioned between the back of the food tent (easy breakfast-bun access) and the girls’ bathroom; facing the little brick path leading through the other half of the camp site and towards the main stage.
In less than an hour, and with little to no injury, we were set up and the first coal was glowing atop the hub. Our beer was ice cold, thanks to 5 kg of dry ice Carlie and I purchased and repackaged earlier. Experience had taught us that this was the way to go — the dry ice would last us until Sunday, keeping our ice frozen, and even turn our homemade cocktail juice to slushie.
As soon as we heard the bands warming up, our group piled in at the main stage to join the rest of the crowd. Jack Hammer and Medicine Boy paved the way for MT Seas and Jackal & The Wind. Strong base lines and catchy guitar riffs mixed with melodic lyrics and the almost comical sound of the ukulele. We were singing without knowing the lyrics and dancing well after Koisan finished at 02:00.
Friday’s rain was a momentarily damper followed by the generator shutting down. The latter was especially frustrating as I had just left my flooded tent in search of tea. I had misinterpreted the rain forecast for a mere drizzle, but it had been, in fact, a downpour with thunder and lightning for extra added effect. I was soaked, wearing my pajama shorts, a hoodie and flip flops, with mud splattered up to my thighs. I was miserable and ready to drive to Swellendam in search of warmth.
“The lightening is beautiful, isn’t it?” the woman behind me in the queue asked.
I could see the rain dripping from her dreadlocks and yellow raincoat.
“And with this much rain, the river’s water will rise.”
The drought had left rocks and sandbanks visible down the length of the river and I’d been wondering if there’d be enough water for all of us to float in.
“You’re just finding all the silver linings, aren’t you?” I asked.
I meant it sarcastically, but the woman only smiled and said, “Well, there’s no shortage of clouds to choose from.”
And just like that, I felt my misery lifted.
Happiness or, in this case, positivity is contagious and we sometimes forget how powerful that feeling can be.
When Carlie found me, a few hours later, I had a steaming cup of tea, a miniature umbrella and two new friends. With my festivity mood restored, we went hunting for Sedgwick promo-girls and their tiny cups of old brown sherry.
We spent the rest of the day huddled beneath the gazebo — all seven of us, talking, drinking and burning through eight of our twenty coals — and only emerged when we heard Dan Patlansky’s sweet six-string blues. The renegade blues artist was followed by Southern Wind, Taxi Violence, Kings Down South and DJ Cheese Us. Each band seemed to build on the previous artists’ hype and, after a while, everything turned into an exhilarating blur of colourful lights and base sounds.
Our Saturday started at 6am with the sun shining and, even though dark clouds loomed in the distance threatening to bring more rain, we all dashed down the steep hill to the river’s edge.
Everyone seemingly had the same idea and within a matter of minutes the river was covered in a drifting blanket of psychedelic colours and odd shapes. It was clearly the year of the flamingo. You could see the pink, long-necked floaties sticking out everywhere and in every size — from cute travel-sized inflatables bobbing alongside bigger floaties to large bouncy house-sized mothers keeping three people afloat.
Other honorable inflatable mentions include: a cooler in the form of a pineapple, a rainbow-coloured Pegasus, unicorns large enough for two, a full-on swimming pool for four including a cooler, a duck with sunglasses, a homemade floatable gazebo, and lilos in the form of flip flops and a slice of pizza.
After a quick power nap and a ‘straffie’ (five shots of brandy with half a shot of coke), we were ready for the night’s ventures and, boy, was it amazing.
Crimson House was by far my favourite band — they’re not only brilliant musicians, but enchanting entertainers. The crowd was eating out of their hands, like the audio candy they are, and we were all stomping, jumping, laughing and dancing; calling for encore after encore.
The Jägermeister Brass Cartel seamlessly blended songs from Nirvana, Beyonce, Goldfish and Mango Groove to create an infectiously, happy-go-lucky sound. The crass-but-charismatic Jack Parrow dominated the stage with his Happy Boys, followed by the The Kiffness and PHFAT.
Sunday was all about procrastination. Nobody wanted to pack up and leave this wonderful limbo we’ve been experiencing for the past four days. Plus the sun was bearing down fiercely on us and had already begun to give some of us a lobster-like complexion.
Eventually, we smoked our last hub, drank the last beer and got everything into the car. The two hour drive was spent reminiscing, napping and planning next year’s trip to Up the Creek when we get to return to the Breede and its music-mecca.