By Marley

Innibos Nasionale Kunste Fees is probably THE biggest highlight on the Lowveld’s calendar. It’s also the highlight of arts festivals in South Africa to attend, no matter your language preference. I’ve missed only one of the 15 Innibos festivals. 2018’s edition “Dis Hoe Ons Rol” (That’s How We Roll), was truly special in a sense. I really enjoyed it, and here’s why.

Instead of going day by day, boring you with words and words, I’m giving you my highlights of the festival. I was lucky enough to attend many acts, see many artists and actors doing their passion on stage.

Uit Die Bloute theater production at Innibos 2018 - photo by Small Town Music
“Uit Die Bloute”
(photo by Small Town Music)

Uit Die Bloute” (Out of the Blue) is a theatre production I attended at the State Theatre at the Mbombela Municipality building. Taking 3 stories of the acclaimed Afrikaans writer, Eugene Marais, and bring it to the stage as simple as possible. With just two actors, dressed mostly in grey they portrait the three stories. I only know “Raka” but this was just amazing. It forces you to use your imagination.

The Lowveld High Senior choir singing the national anthem along with Lee Scott on Wednesday night at the Standard Bank stage was also a huge highlight. I love that Innibos involves kids from a school you don’t expect to be associated with an Afrikaans festival. Yet, there were the kids, dressed in their choir outfits looking like rock stars. An applauded must go to Mr Bongani Mavundla who is their conductor and mentor. You, sir, are a true youth leader.

Lowveld High School performing the national anthem with Lee Scott at Innibos 2018 - photo by Small Town Music
Lowveld High School Senior choir
(photo by Small Town Music)

Seeing Valiant Swart on the Standard Bank stage for the kykNET NOU! Rock evening was also amazing. I didn’t expect so many young people glued to his lips and Valiant as his band entertained us. The Parlotones had a unique way of “appearing” on stage with Nelspruit’s own mentalist, Riaan Loubser, made Kahn appear in a cage, on stage. Between fire breathers and drummers. Amazing.

Also, Graeme Hal who did speed painting of Karen Zoid, Innibos’s logo and Francois van Coke’s face. All on one painting. It was amazing to watch as he worked it on My Chemical Romance “Marching On” and Karen Zoid’s “Afrikaners is plesierig”.

One guy that surprised me due to me never hearing of him before was Jan Bloukaas. I was surprised by the crowd reaction. Yet another proof that making a joke out of anything (including songs) people will love you. Thank you, Mr Schuster.

At the Cell C Boma, I saw many short acts but “Stok” stood out. Hardly any words between the actors, just sounds and songs. It was really good and funny to see. Talent right there. We watched Hannes van Wyk of kykNET interview 4 magicians aka mentalists. The tricks they did was really “scratching my head” ones. Two of them are locals. 

“Laat Ons Lag” by Doringdraad Komediant wasn’t good at all. I can take age-rated jokes (I am a Casper de Vries fan) but it was boring. I think it’s more aimed at a group of men for a weekend in the bush or on a golf day but not for Innibos where you have all ages present in the crowd. I managed to catch a small glimpse of Schalk Bezuidenhout and he just gets funnier by the day. And his jerseys, classic. To see the R10 note trick and cellphone in a balloon trick from youngster Wian Magician was also cool. Look him up, you’ll be amazed.

Bad Peter, who I’ve now followed for over a year was an amazing addition to the smaller stages of Innibos. The crowd at the KMI Airport stage enjoyed Alwyn and PG’s performances of folk like music. I also saw their last show at Innibos at the Hullets stage where we tasted and voted for our favourite koeksister (my vote didn’t win). I hardly saw them for a beer, they were running around. Well done Innibos for booking them.

Lee Scott, who was in The Voice South Africa, is also an amazing vocalist on stage. He is also the presenter of SABC 2’s Kliphard. I’m usually not into my solo Afrikaans acts but I saw him twice on stage. Well done friend.

Bad Peter performing live at Innibos 2018 - Photo by Small Town Music
Bad Peter
(photo by Small Town Music)

Friday night at the kykNET NOU! Rock stage had a magical feeling in the air. I was really loving the rock and roll live. Where else could I see who I saw in the country? For a Nelspartan that can’t afford to drive up to Gauteng every time there is a band I love, I loved this lineup. The only band that was a complete miss on stage was Witkasteel. It’s what we call at our HQ as ‘bar fillers’. Innibos, next time stick in Crimson House, then you’ll have a party on your hands. 

Wonderboom’s show, of course, was one of the record books. Their songs were sung back by a crowd mixed of students, old Blue Mooners and fans. Fokofpolisiekar stole the night when the band sang “Fokofpolisiekar” Francois van Coke pulled two fans from the crowd to sing with. And Neels van Jaarsveld (the ‘eish’ guy and actor from Binnelanders) joined on stage. The media ate it like cake with photos as Francois lifted Neels on his shoulders. Proofing to us that staying away from alcohol for 5 years is a healthy choice (and a personal trainer). It was simply mind-blowing. It still blows my mind just thinking of it.

Saturday night at the kykNET NOU! Rock stage was a different feeling. With the legend Piet Botha kicking off the evening. I didn’t think I would ever see oom Piet on an Innibos stage. His last time in the city was at Woodcrock 11. He and the “Jack Hammers” were on point, many kids saw him for the first time but he had that magic. Still have it, still, give his message across. 

Dan Patlansky just released his new studio album “Perfection Kills” and it was an amazing show to watch. One person complained that Dan just plays the guitar. No, you listen to Dan’s music but watch him play. This man is just proof that good South African guitarists are as good as we believe. Thank you, Dan, you are the man.

And how the hell did Just Jinger not play in Nelspruit for 20 years? Yes, 20 years, they weren’t at Blue Moon 20 years ago but at Nelspruit Rugby Club. I was too young (Grade 8) to attend but I remember it. The crowd breathed them in like it’s the first time they saw Ard and the boys. I was backstage getting my hands dirty, I helped Kobus of the Black Cat Bones, paint his body. First time for everything I suppose. 

The Black Cat Bones entered the stage, we geared up for a show that will blow our minds. And one donner, you know that one guy in the crowd…threw Kobus with ice. Then it started with cups, empty cans and ice being thrown towards the stage. Sending the media to cover, it was nuts. A recovering beer in the VIP was needed.

Innibos 2018 was a lekker festival. I enjoyed sleeping in my own bed for a week and not in a tent. I could go home when I wanted to (early morning hours) and the weather was just perfection. With my festival buddies, it always makes festivals more fun. We ate lekker, kuier lekker with friends from far and enjoyed the arts. I enjoyed speaking Afrikaans for a full week! I’m grateful that I can do what I can do.

So, if you are still an Innibos virgin, I highly recommend you come to join the fun next year.

Thank you Innibos.

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.