Friday evening was relatively quiet due to the small crowd of festival-goers who had arrived, as most would only be coming the following morning. Performances only started at 17:00, with DJ Bongwater opening the festival on the bar floor – the only floor open at the time. The highlight of the night was Half ‘n Half as they stole the show by getting everyone in the vicinity grooving. Friday night set the tone for the weekend, promising good music, good vibes, and an overall good time.

Saturday morning started with laughter and fun in the sun, as many took to the waters on their floaties or on the barge accompanied by comedians to keep them entertained. The blistering sunny weather lent itself to the success of the Cool in the Pool stage as Bongani Zulu enticed people out of the waters and onto the dance floors. People strutted around in their swimwear, equally enjoying the ‘boozey ice pops’ and the music. It was the Pretoria-based band, The Lebowski’s, first festival and they opened up Willow Tree stage, drew in a good crowd and proved they earned their place at the festival by delivering a great set. Adelle Nqeto, a Tuks alumna, had as much fun on the main stage as her audience did. She told Perdeby that this was “definitely one of [her] favourite festivals”. Other noteworthy acts of the day included Lectric Monks, Majozi, Hot Water Duo, Desmond and the Tutus, and Popartlive. The crowd responded to all of these acts very well, particularly to Majozi’s simple and honest set and Popartlive’s energetic and technically smooth set.

Moods were dampened as the clouds settled in on Sunday morning, but despite the weather, Missu and Bhashkar still managed to draw a sizeable crowd to the Cool in the Pool stage and got the audience dancing. The Willow Tree stage was a crowd favourite as the intimate setting was conducive to snuggling under a blanket with a cup of coffee while enjoying the acts – especially as Jonathan Peyper and Tidal Waves warmed everyone’s spirits. As the afternoon progressed and the sun made an appearance, so did festival-goers. Highlights of the day included Hellcats, Femi Koya, and Grassy Spark – all of whom warmed the crowds through the chilly night. Fuzigish stayed true to form and delivered a raw and dynamic performance, satisfying the crowd’s anticipation for the seasoned band. Haezer was also a crowd favourite, making full use of the lighting and sound equipment with a very technically effective and vibrant set. The Rave Cave was unexpectedly quiet and the acts lost a bit of crowd support to Haezer.

Energies and moods were on a high on Monday morning as the warmth spread over the camping grounds. The music started off on a high note with Kid Robot and Rebel Clef at Cool in the Pool. Rebel Clef was particularly successful, and it was obvious that he enjoyed the set as much as the crowd did. He told Perdeby that it was as if the set acted as the “window to [his] soul”, as he really connected with his audience. The Dandies, The Tazers and Boargazm impressed on the Willow Tree stage, and fans could not have been happier with their performances. Shortstraw did what they always do: they gave a great performance, playing a mix of their classics and newer music. Ella G and Kallisto got the crowd going in the Rave Cave and there was hardly a free space during both DJ’s sets. PHFat closed the main stage with a bang, and no one expected any less, playing three brand new tracks as well as the more popular songs such as “If he can’t dance”. The audience went ballistic throughout the set with no one standing still. After PHFat, the bar floor and Rave Cave ensured the festival ended on a high note, not stopping until the early hours of the morning.

The Republic of Mieliepop was a successful event with many artists already excited to return next year. One of the core reasons for its success was its focus on the acts rather than the image. As PHFat said, it was a festival with a “core music lover audience”. Although it didn’t pull as big a crowd as festivals such as Oppikoppi and Lush, the quality of the festival exceeded expectations.


Image: Kaylyn O’Brien

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