In case you did not know, Up The Creek Music Festival turned 30 in 2020! Many of you reading this article has not made your way to the that infamous farm on the banks of the Breede River, so you probably don’t know much about the festival (especially those of you who don’t live in the Western Cape province in South Africa).
I was very lucky to attend this amazing festival in 2012 and 2015 and I will never forget how awesome it was. I really want to go again and I’m hoping that the festival will happen in 2023.
Up The Creek Festival has a rich history, let’s delve into a it a little bit…
Here are 30 facts that you might not have known about Up The Creek Music Festival:
1. Up the Creek will never sell more than 2,500 tickets for the festival
In 2015 the organizers sold 2,900. It was just too much, the organizers prefer a small intimate feel with little to no queues.
2. They are trying to erase single-use plastic from the festival
This includes festival bars, traders and all other operations. They are also encouraging punters to do the same.
3. 137 people are employed by the festival every year
This includes organizers, bar staff, stage managers, sound peeps, etc.
4. The Blues Broers played at the first edition of the festival
This year they are opening the 30 year reunion festival on the Main Stage.
5. Albert Frost has been to every single Up the Creek Music Festival so far
That’s impressive. Especially if you add that he’s also been to every single edition of Oppikoppi festival (since it’s inception in 1994).
6. The organizers have been to a lot of Up The Creek festivals
The three main people in the production team have attended a combined total 30 Up The Creek festivals. Now that’s experience if you ask me!
7. 2020’s edition featured the Ghetto Sessions
This was great news! Talented musicians from townships played on their first real stage at their first festival.
8. It’s always been at the same venue
The festival has not changed venues since it started in 1990.
9. It was initiated as a surprise birthday party
Anthony Bumstead was the lucky recepient!
10. It’s the second oldest music festival in South Africa
That makes Splashy Fen the oldest and Oppikoppi the third oldest, right? #AskingForAFriend
11. There used to 2 editions of the festival every year
In the beginning, the organizers ran two festivals a year: 1 in Summer and 1 in Winter. They stopped the winter ones after about 3 years. They were the best parties but impractical (think festivaling and camping in the rain and mud…).
12. They used to feed everyone Spitbraai on the Saturday night
This happened in the early days of festival. Local farmer Andries (provider of spitbraai) resigned when the organizers asked him to do a 1000 pax! After Andries resigned, they hired a chef, who had a nervous breakdown an hour before dinner was due! They lost the tradition after that as no-one could get their head around it!
13. Up The Creek Music Festival has hosted two weddings
I remember one of them in 2012. Piet Botha was the MC at the wedding. There was also 1 near-wedding. Sadly, minutes before the ceremony of this wedding, the bride ran away with the grooms best friend and the puppy, bearing the ring, pissed on the red carpet. This was a very dark moment at Up The Creek.
14. There wasn’t a river stage until about 2010
Before this, everything happened on the hilltop. Now, the organizers can’t imagine not having the river stage!
15. There has been LILO rage at Up The Creek
This is thanks to their Anything That Floats competition.
16. VIP’s used to sleep in ox wagons
In case you did not know, there were 8 restored ox wagons surrounding the farmhouse.
17. The stoep of the farmhouse was the main stage
Energetic musicians like Josh Hawk used to bang their heads on the stoep roof and complain bitterly.
18. In the early days of Up The Creek, Albert Frost used to come along with his parents and watch his Dad perform
Frank Frost was the drummer of The Blues Broers. The organizers remember Albert as a young boy. He must have been around 12 years old and was occasionally invited onto the stage to play guitar with the band.
19. Conrad Jamneck is one of the Up The Creek girls
Just kidding. The core Up The Creek production team are all women. They are ably supported by the most amazing men.
20. Although the festival’s roots are predominantly rock, it has celebrated many different Arts genres
This includes African, Classical (String Quartet), Ballet (who will ever forget those gorgeous UCT Ballet students), Jazz, Blues, Pop, Indie and Comedy.
21. They support local bands only
On the odd occasion, an international act has made an appearance at the festival, but other than that, the festival is for showcasing our amazing local talent.
22. Their motto has always been “less is more” and “quality over quantity”
The festival never wants to get too big!
23. Their bathroom cleaning crew are amazing
The festival has had the same cleaning crew on duty for more than 7 years.
24. The festival has a neighbourhood watch system
This was introduced in 2015. There was a need for more eyes in the campsite. Security is a priority for the organizers, so they employed a group of people from Swellendam.
They are the Neighbourhood Watchers and they look after their own area every night from 6 PM to 6 AM. They report directly to the site manager with any issues.
25. They’ve been using the same electrician since 1990
This is amazing! Evans Coetzee has spent 30 years keeping the lights on and the music going at Up The Creek festival.
26. The festival goes through a lot of toilet paper
They go through rougly 2400 toilet rolls every single year!
27. It takes 10 days to get the venue festival ready
Respect. This is done by a small setup crew of only 6 people.
28. One year the river stage washed down the river
The river stage was found several meters from where it originally stood.
29. A float that was built for Jeremy Loops, sank
Luckily he wasn’t on it. It is still at the bottom of the Breede River. Somewhere.
30. The Savanna stage was welded together by Conrad Jamneck and James Frost
And is still holding up. Good job boys!
Well, there you have it, 30 facts that you might not have known about Up The Creek Music Festival.
It’s definitely a jol, and if you haven’t been there, you should definitely go, just check out the vibe in the video below:
Watch this space for updates in the Music category on Running Wolf’s Rant.
Scroll down to view related articles to get more facts. If you want to stay in the loop, feel free to subscribe to our newsletter.
If you live in South Africa and you're looking for a live music gig or music festival to attend, feel free to check The SA Gig Guide on our sister site (SA Music Zone).