bushfire festival: three days of partying in the King’s backyard

This was first published on http://www.studio83.co.za

A sore back. Aching hands and feet. A little sunburn. Some brokeness. A deep longing to hit the road again and lots of new memories…

That’s roughly the price I pay every time I attend a weekend-long festival and this past weekend at Bushfire festival was no different.

It was my first time in Swaziland and apart from the long wait at the border, the trip was relatively painless.

Mainly because we were in a convoy but also because I was not driving.

We arrived on Friday night to find that there had been a problem with our online booking.

Apparently, the company we booked with online charged us for tickets and accommodation at the camping spot even though they did not have any accommodation for us.

The woman who helped us on Friday night said other people had also complained about the same issue but apart from sending us to the main entrance to get it sorted there, there was little she could do but charge us again for camping.

So we paid. And we went in. Collecting my media accreditation along the way (I paid for a ticket and applied for accreditation just to be safe. Money is apparently going to charity, so why not?).

Anyway, the music on the first night more than made up for the accommodation mishap.

Spanish duo Fuel Fandango were the festival highlight for me. They gave a super energetic dance set. At some point I could swear their beats were influenced by Durban house and Kwaito music.

South African group Muzart did their best to move the chilled crowd and they were later followed by Spoek Mathambo whose set was great and worth staying up till midnight for.

All around the main stage people were drinking, eating and walking around aimlessly (in a weed-induced haze perhaps?) while the people in the VIP section looking on from behind a gated section facing the main stage.

Over at the more intimate ampitheatre Japanese band, Kiwi and Papaya Mangoes had the whole crowd on their feet which was beautiful to see.

On Saturday morning we really got to experience how breathtaking the venue was. The festival is nestled on a farm surrounded by mountains ranges that seem to go on forever.

The local Sibebe beer was flowing and the queue at the mexican food stand indicated where the good food was.

The crowd was also very mixed in terms of age, gender and race.

Saturday saw performances from Pedro the Musicman in the ampitheatre. Yes, that guy from Kideo was booked to perform at the festival and he had us all nostalgic and blowing into random music instruments made up of small plastic pipes in different colours.

Saturday night belonged to Bongo Maffin who reunited at Bushfire after years away from the music scene.

Although the group performed most of their well-known songs, the performance felt a bit lukewarm at times with Stoan carrying the performance with his dance moves. He really got the crowd excited while the others just seemed to wander around the stage.

DJ Muscle had the ampitheatre on fire with banging house tunes while people were waiting for Uhuru’s performance.

When Uhuru did come onto the main stage the crowd went wild to their massive hit, Y tjukutja.

Sunday was the most chilled.

We woke up to people packing up their tents while some die-hard festivalgoers carried on with day 3.

Imperial Tiger Orchestra, LadySmith Black Mambazo, Oliver Mtukudzi were just some of the performers entertaining the crowd from the main stage.

And as the day wore on, no matter how much we would have liked to ignore it, it was time to go home.

So we left the beauty of the valley, the warm locals and the festival with vague promises to come back next year.

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