By Marley

Innibos 2019 is an Innibos that I’m not going to forget soon. Besides the amazing talent from art, stage and music that filled my ears and heart I did it from a wheelchair (and some days crutches). It gave me a new view on how the festival is seen from a lower to the ground point of view.

I broke my leg on the 2nd of June thus my plans for Innibos went out the window. I took it one day at a time and by Innibos week I was willing (and able) to attend the festival in Mbombela. Wednesday 26 June was truly a cold day in the Lowveld. We had unpredicted rain the previous night and the clouds hung thick in the air. This was a good day to go strolling at the festival. I wanted to see what it will be like for a wheelchair user. I wasn’t the only one in a wheelchair due to injury or the only one in a moon boot (medical boot).

It was relatively easy getting to the Kuns Park on the way to the KMIA stage which was a new location this year. Smack in the middle of all the art on display. The previous stage was occupied by Radio Laeveld where they did live broadcasting from. I had people tell me that at times there wasn’t enough seating at the new location for the stage and that it felt smaller. Seems most people enjoyed the other stage that was set up under the Paperbark Thorn trees. From here we were able to manoeuvre to the bottom of the festival grounds – the Bos Mall. With the wet ground and some muddy patches, it was a breeze. Although not many people pay attention to where they walk and some had small accidents with us. It was difficult to manoeuvre in some stalls as they were small but that wasn’t a problem. I must say there were far more interesting stalls this year. The stall selling Proteas was a welcome sight and smell. The Dutch cheese master from Cullinan was wonderful and I’m still disappointed that I couldn’t return there to buy some of his master cheese.

I didn’t stay for the Wednesday evening “Detensie” show at the kykNET NOU Rock stage but did spend time watching the Huisgenoot Sokkie show. The dance floor in front of the stage was well used by those who danced (lang arm) the cold away. It was homeward bound, there was still a full week ahead.

Thursday the sun was out and warmed the Lowveld ground again. I’m always excited for the Thursday as the main stage turns into the kykNET NOU! Rock stage. And this year Bittereinder played on this massive stage for the first time. No strangers to the Lowveld nor Innibos, they made it look easy enough. The usual favourites like Karen Zoid, Fokofpolisiekar and Die Heuwels Fantasties didn’t disappoint. Harrebaard (veteran actor Frank Opperman’s band) had people on their feet. The surprise of the evening was Bad Peter! Wow! I nearly pulled a muscle when I heard their name being announced. I think I was the only one in VIP who cheered them on (or I thought I was). What a beautiful surprise act.

Prime Circle also played and while I am a big fan of theirs for years now, the show was slightly boring. Not the high energy as I remember it. Maybe it was my meds…But I met amazing people from my seat in VIP and ended up chatting most of the night.

Friday evening almost came to soon but it was good. The kykNET NOU rock stage made some changes. Like moving the backstage area, changing the stage a bit. That is, however, the complaint, the stage was about a meter higher than the previous Innibos which even to me in a wheelchair made it difficult to see well, anyone. Also, the barrier between the stage and the crowd (what we call the ‘Media Pit’) was super close to each other making one trip over the support beams. But I don’t let that get me under! Between my crutches and the wheelchair, I made it work and enjoyed the show. I could sit and relax at times – the benefit of being in a wheelchair. The security was amazing and helped me whenever I needed it.

Spoegwolf took top honours for the performance of the night with Van Pletzen in close second place. Tidal Waves will always bring the inner Rasta out in me and Watershed made me feel old – 19 years ago I wrote Matric, that’s when they started. Ouch. The night was really far too soon and we rolled on back home.

Saturday was the perfect winters day in Nelspruit. It was nice and hot and not too cold at night. But I must ask the teenagers of today – how the hell can you walk around at night with the mini shorts and cut off top in winter? Really, you didn’t impress us, you made us feel cold and wanted to give you a jacket. Saturdays are the busiest days of Innibos and we could see it from VIP. I didn’t try to go down to the grounds due to the number of people and given the fact that people are stuck to their phone screens instead of looking where they going, I wasn’t going to take that chance.

After dinner in the VIP (Mexican food for the win!) we made our way to the kykNET NOU Rock stage for some good music. Kicking off with first-time visitors, Jerry & The Bandits. I watched them at Misty Waters in Secunda in May. Their folk, happy music and covers had the crowd jumping to the beat. A nice warm-up for Majozi. Now look, Majozi is a friendly guy. Always a smile on his face and he loves his fans. Giving Cape Town love to them during his performance.

Jan Blohm, he gave a powerful performance. He had the crowd hanging onto every move he made including his crowd surfing. What we could see from the stage is the number of people was even stuffed into the bar area, the very back area – really no space for even a mouse. Which of course is the reaction I expected from an artist like Blohm. Fill it up!

Top performance of the night went to Jack Parow, who performed with a full band. It has been 2 years since Parow performed at Innibos and it was a welcomed performance by our favourite ou from Parow. He said that he was asked for a family-friendly performance but you do realise it is Jack Parow we are talking about here. The trademark long hat and shorts, Parow had the kids jump. Then on the very last breath of his set, Early B joined him on stage for their song “Potte” which by the way has over 1 million views on YouTube. You can take that to the bank!

With Majozi back stage at Innibos 2019 - photo by Small Town Music Blog
With Majozi backstage
(photo by Small Town Music Blog)

All in all Innibos in a wheelchair was easier than I thought. The team of Innibos really went out of their way to make it easier. From the parking to the VIP area to the general access to the grounds. The bartenders and dinner tent waiters were super helpful. At times helped carried our food plates when one hand are full of due to crutches. Well done team!

Hopefully, in 2020 I will make a full recovery and be back to my old self.

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.