By Marley

It was like a dust storm that came and went, through the city and out over the mountains. In the mix were families and kids, people of all races and different faces. This year’s Innibos Laeveld Nasionale Kunstefees mirrored their theme this year:  a step further.

I’m not going to bore you with too much detail. If you still haven’t experienced at least one Innibos then it should be added to your bucket list. No matter your home language because this event does not only cater to Afrikaans-speaking folk. Thank goodness for warm weather through most of the week, Nelsparta welcomed the hordes of people with smiles.

Matt Carstens at Innibos Nelspruit - photo by Small Town Music Blog
Matt Carstens
(photo by Small Town Music Blog)

My festival started with Matt Carstens, the 19-year-old singer and songwriter from the Cape. This young lad, along with 4 bands, was part of the Innibos Rock Rumoer competition. It’s like a battle of the bands. I met Matt last year in December and was impressed with his debut album (a must-buy). Arriving at the festival on Wednesday had us all excited because you never know what to expect. In the evening we stood with cameras ready for the Rock Rumoer competition to start on the kykNET Nou Rock stage. Opening the stage were our friends, After Robot, with the theatre-like rock music. Generasie Stasie was another one who stood out but measuring it against After Robot and Matt they felt a little lost to me. It was around about this time our tummies started rumbling as the aromas of nearby stalls teased our olfactory senses and awoke the hunger monster in all of us. Matt Carstens and After Robot were announced as the two finalists that were then due to play on Thursday evening on the Standard Bank main stage.

After Robot performing at Innibos 2017 - photo by Small Town Music Blog
After Robot
(photo by Small Town Music Blog)

After the last act (Matt Carstens) performed, a full hour went by at the stage before the legend, Francois van Coke made his appearance.  I kept wondering why an hour was needed before the legend himself appeared on stage, but my guess is preparation for what was to follow. However, it was the first time I’ve ever seen Francois and Die Gevaar live.  I’ve heard so much and just couldn’t help but to rock out. I had a stiff neck to prove it the next day. Francois delivered the hits of both his albums with the crowd singing along to every word.

Francois van Coke performing at Innibos 2017 - photo by Small Town Music Blog
Francois van Coke
(photo by Small Town Music Blog)

Thursday saw me being somewhere for the first time at Innibos – backstage at the main stage. It was really impressive to view the crew working like ants. The hammocks behind the stage were quite a new sight as well and certainly inviting. We watched Matt and After Robot do sound checks before we headed off to watch Neels van Jaarsveld “Op My Eish!”. I’ve never been able to watch a production during Innibos and it was quite nice to sit down for something like this. Neels is an actor. You may have seen him in films like JagveldDie Rebellie van Lafras VerwynKnysna as well as TV shows like Binnelanders en Getroud met Rugby. For most of SA will remember Neels as the Klipdrift “with eish, ja, with eish”. I never knew this man played in so many roles. But it was refreshing to hear his amazing story thus far. Before long we were heading back to the main festival terrain to prepare for the kykNET Nou Rock show on the main stage.

Neels van Jaarsveld (actor) at Innibos Nelspruit - photo by Small Town Music Blog
Neels van Jaarsveld
(photo by Small Town Music Blog)

Opening the evening was Majozi. What a friendly guy! The “Into The Woods” singer was completely overwhelmed with the festival. He couldn’t believe how big the stage was! Following Majozi was a short performance by Hemel Besem. Rapper, poet, writer and TV presenter, this guy brought out the inner hip hop fans. Arno Carstens was next and delivered a typical powerful Arno show, although I have to admit I missed most of it. Dinner time. Hemel Besem was once again on stage before MC Robbie Kruse (Bravo presenter and 5FM’s Roger Goode’s sports presenter) announced that the two finalists will take to the stage. First up with After Robot and they delivered their song with so much power, people (and fans) were blown away. Next up was Matt Carstens and with his folk style, the ladies in the crowd fell in love. It would be another hour and a half before we knew who won the competition.

Considered one of the friendliest guys in the business, Matthew Mole was up next. Sporting a bright pink beanie, he had everyone singing to his hits. The Black Cat Bones stepped onto the stage and delivered that old school BCB show we know and love. They celebrated 10 years of being together and making music together. It was the most fun, of course, to watch Chris van der Walt (bassist) run from one end of the stage to the other end. Perhaps they do scare some people. We all know what pussy cats they really are.

Kobus de Kock Jnr  - The Black Cat Bones
photo by Small Town Music Blog
Kobus de Kock Jnr – The Black Cat Bones
(photo by Small Town Music Blog)

Finally, the announcements for the Rock Rumoer was ready for action. Measuring again with a decibel meter to the crowd’s reaction, it was Matt Carstens who won the R25 000 prize. It was a cool moment to know the inside out of his two days at Innibos. Finally the big one, VanFokKingTasties was up. Every MK generation (and some older ones) was waiting for this one. Performing a mixture of Die Heuwels FantastiesVan Coke Kartel, aKING, Francios van Coke and Fokofpolisiekar songs had us all in the palm of their hands.

Friday saw me taking a face plant near the art exhibit at the festival terrain. I just want to publicly thank the two strangers who helped me up and took me to the medics tent. The nurses took a look at me, cleaned me and let me rest. I can report my knee is doing better but still, need some physiotherapy. I finally made it to the meeting place for something cool to drink. I took a stroll through the Bos Mall and fairgrounds.

Danie du Toit - Spoegwolf
photo by Small Town Music Blog
Danie du Toit – Spoegwolf
(photo by Small Town Music Blog)

As night fell we made our way to the kykNET Rock stage for some crazy acts. First up was a first-time visitor Manny Walters, I’m sad I didn’t see the whole show but what a humble guy. We at least shared a coffee. Albert Frost was next and I do believe I saw a lot younger faces watching this blues maestro. Spoegwolf proved to be popular amongst the varsity students with their mixture of songs. I must admit listening to them this time around made me a fan of them. Bittereinder was ready to sweat it all out and boy did they deliver! Wearing their outfits from Oppikoppi, they made us jump, swing and bounce all in one. Last but not least was Die Heuwels Fantasties, the crowd favourites. At one stage we couldn’t see inside the bar because there were so many people. They performed songs from almost all of their albums including a new one.

By Saturday I was sad that we are almost at an end but I knew it was the last stretch and we are going to make the best of it. I usually skip the main grounds and took a stroll to the KMIA stage, here I bumped into my old buddy Lourene. She is now playing bass for Tuin. We then made our way through the overfilled beer tents. But the beer was cold and we found a spot under the umbrellas of the rock stage. Here I just need to say thank you Vodacom for having a charging station for cell phones. It helped so much!

Tuin performing at Innibos Nelspruit 2017 - 
photo by Small Town Music Blog
(photo by Small Town Music Blog)

Then the sunset and the rock stage started to fill up. Opening the stage was last year’s winner of the Rock Rumoer competitionTuin. If you watched her show you would have noticed the Nelspartan on stage. Yes, our very own Sunny is on guitar for Tuin. Catch Sunny around town with his other bands Goat ‘n Hare and Johnny Latin Blues ExpressDesmond and the Tutus were next, minus a bassist who is now in Japan. One of the world’s best guitarists and one of SA’s best musicians were up next: Dan Patlansky. The fans and media were glued to his guitar as his fingers worked magic. Although it slowed down the evening a little in energy I saw many people who enjoyed this. Young and old.

Wonderboom has my respect as well, 21 years later and they’re still rocking on. A lot of the youngsters mentioned how they were raised on Wonderboom’s music and I sit here being a fan since I was a teen…that was the late 90’s. Anyway, Cito mentioned they are busy with their latest album, which I can’t wait for. To close the evening off was Locnville. What a show as well. I haven’t seen them in 4 years and I was really impressed by the Chaplin twins. It was great to hear these hitmakers in action again.

WONDERboom performing at Innibos Nelspruit - 
photo by Small Town Music Blog
(photo by Small Town Music Blog)

All in all, I enjoyed Innibos. It’s such a build up every year. Saw many friends, made new friends and got the scar to prove it. As big as it is I would like to see more charities involved with the festival. A little stall for the animal NPO’s or similar. It would add a nice touch.

Thank you to all the people made this possible, all the fans of course. Because without you, there will be no music or arts.

Marley is the founder and owner of Small Town Music. Born and bred in Nelspruit aka Nelsparta. Marley loves music (rock being a firm favourite), tattoos, festivals, animals and South Africa. Self-taught photographer and writer.