By Marley

It was finally time. The counter moved from days to hours to mere seconds as the “Groot Innibos” finally opened its gates for Innibos 2023.

Since there is no more Wednesday festivities, it was Thursday afternoon when I could take in the festival smell – you know it’s a mixture of all the food vendors, some ice, dust and excitement. After some hellos and meeting new friends (Sunset Sweat Shop), it was almost time for the main stage to open at 6 pm. The excitement in the crowd was overwhelming and so fun to see their faces light up.  And it was the Huisgenoot Afskop opening with Sunset Sweat Shop. I love watching these guys and it was only the second time. “Coming alone” was a firm fan favourite. Following them was Kurt Darren, Riana Nel, Appel (a very cool show from him and loved the fans singing along to his hits) and Elandre. One of the surprise acts was Eloff and the fans went nuts! Of course, we (excuse me, I) was waiting for Francois van Coke because somewhere in my rock ‘n roll soul I had to have rock ‘n roll. Of course, Meneer van Coke gave it all as per usual. Zaan Sonnekus joined him on stage, boxing gloves and all for their duet “Almal Baklei” and then Elandre for the song “Maak Wakker”. He did “Dagdrome in Suburbia” (his duet with Spoegwolf) full volume by his ace as well as “Toe vind ek jou” which is still a running success 8 years and 15 million views later. Then it was time for Bok van Blerk and since I had to be at work by 7 am it was an early night for me.

Apple performing during Innibos 2023 
- Photo by Small Town Music
Apple performing during Innibos 2023
– Photo by Small Town Music

Friday tjaila tyd (going home time) could not come sooner and I found myself with a well-deserved end of the work-week beer on the festival grounds before sunset. Catching up again with some old friends we made our way down to the main stage pit. Armed now with what view works where and we all have a ‘gentlemen’ respect for fellow cameramen and the crowd I sat on my haunches most of the night. Being older than I was since the start of Innibos, the joints don’t always want to work the way they used to. Kicking off the Jacaranda FM Friday night was Brendan Peyper. I’m going to be honest here and say it was the first time I saw him live. I’ve seen him in the Tropika Island of Treasure on TV but what a handsome lad and his smile brought the young girls to their screams (I mean knees!). In between it was Jacaranda FM’s breakfast slot DJ, Martin Bester and his team that lead the MC duties. Nice to put faces to the voices. Droomsindroom was another band you MUST watch if you can. Two guys – one on guitar and one on drums – had that crowd on their feet. Even with this fossil, I certainly enjoyed rock and roll.

Droomsindroom during the Jacaranda FM concert at Innibos 2023 
- photo by Small Town Music
Droomsindroom during the Jacaranda FM concert at Innibos 2023
– photo by Small Town Music

Emo Adams was up and he was a fantastic entertainer (also the new host of Noot vir Noot) but I wanted a pizza cone so badly. Anyone who has had an Innibos pizza cone will tell you there is no other like it and it’s the BEST you’ll ever have. Since the food vendor is at the joyride section I took a walk to people-watch those on the rides. I have watched “Final Destination” movies too many times to go on any coasters but I enjoy the lights.  I caught the last two songs of Karlien van Jaarsveld which included her duet with Brendan Peyper “As die reen”. Since Dewald Wasserfall was not available for the festival she and Brendan made good work of it. Then I got to feel like a teenager again when Just Jinger walked up. Man oh man, the ‘ballies’ were excited and all the teenagers were “This is dad rock”. But JJ being who they are did exactly what they do – capture you. “Sugarman” was sung loudly from the beer tents (and us little old teenagers) and when “Shallow Waters” was sung then it was like a light bulb went off and everyone knew it. This went for “What he means (redemption song)” but of course, they couldn’t leave the stage without singing “Like you madly” – I was 14 all over again. Robbie Wessels was up next and I need to find a way to burn out the image of him in his leather outfit (see the photos on our Facebook page) of course ending the evening was Spoegwolf.

I enjoy this band so much and my love for them grows every time I see them. Danie walks out barefoot and dressed like any other 20-something now but by the time their show ended, he was just wearing his jeans, in ears and guitar. I suppose it’s safer to do that than climbing out of a stage frame like in the past. The moment also when he spilled a cup of brannas and coke over himself on purpose, I thought that crowd was going to lose their minds (and they did).

Danie du Toit of Spoegwolf during their Innibos 2023 performance - 
photo by Small Town Music
Danie du Toit of Spoegwolf –
photo by Small Town Music

Can I just mention that Lowveld artist, Coenie Naude, did a two song set one of his originals “Voel jy my” and a cover of “Dream on” with Christoph (another Lowveld artist on the horizon).

Since it was not a school night for me I could kuier but that’s where I will leave Friday for you.

On Saturday I had the chance to finally watch a theatre production – Kamp Hoer with Sandra Prinsloo in the lead (and only) role. I was amazed by this veteran actress’s performance. Based on a book with the same title it tells the story of Susan Nell, and plays off during the Anglo-Boer war (1899-1902) in the Winburg concentration camp. If you know anything from this war and the concentration camps you’ll know it wasn’t a holiday in paradise. She received a standing ovation from the theatre and well deserved.

I was back at the festival grounds, editing some photos and just enjoying the company of friends. Saturday kykNET show was one of the biggest nights and the people came early sitting firmly in their seats. However, it was a bit of a squeeze in the pit and since I recently experienced a trauma that included fire and I wasn’t keen for the stage flames. I instead watched from the safety of the VIP veranda and got to meet Andre Swartz and Rina Hugo. We all clapped and cheered when Johan Stemmet and Johan van Rensburg, from Noot vir Noot, received a special lifetime achievement award from Innibos. Stemmet gave his last R50 (vyftig randjies) to Van Rensburg much to the crowd’s cheers. Icons in South African TV and we all learnt our music over the years.

I headed down to the kykNET Alternative stage for Loufi’s show and I can kick myself for not going earlier – WHAT A GEES! I stepped in there and felt like I was home, almost like it was the rock stage was back (how do I miss it). Loufi is always a jol to photograph and his fans are just as energetic. From “Wit skoene” to “Stap Soldaat” to “Bank Rob” – I take my hat off to him for being 11 years clean from drugs. He is such an example of what dedication and hard work can do.

Loufi performing at kykNET Alteratief 
- photo by Small Town Music
Loufi performing at kykNET Alteratief
photo by Small Town Music

After this job (and it was the last act of this stage) we headed back to VIP for a further doings of the night that I will again leave here.

I was so amazed by this year’s edition of Innibos it truly was gees. From seeing old friends, old neighbours, meeting new friends ag sommer die hele spul. Getting and giving so many hugs, made the no-contact law a thing of the past. Seeing “Kamp Hoer” – ah my day was made. Thank you again, over and over to the team behind Innibos. From us and the 64 000 people that joined in all we say thank you. It wasn’t easy, couldn’t have been easy and yet you all made it look like a smooth ride like drinking a good red wine. I truly can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2024!

Ons het die gees, ja ons het!

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.