BRENDAN ROANE

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THIS year’s Oppikoppi music festival is expected to host more than 18 000 people, from Oppi veterans with skin that has turned to dust and leather to fresh-faced rookies.

Subtitled Sweet Thing, after the 1968 Van Morrison song of the same name, Oppikoppi 2012 will return to a farm near Northam in Limpopo from today.

Major South African acts such as Jack Parow, Fokofpolisiekar and aKing are performing, while the US band Eagles of Death Metal are one of the headline acts.

The drummer and bassist of the band, Josh Homme, came up with their unusual name. While talking to a friend, he described a Polish death-metal band as being The Eagles of their genre, referring to the 1970s rock band of the same name.

Homme and his band play a mixture of glam and garage rock.

Despite drawing a large crowd, the festival is generally peaceful, with people content to make friends with strangers and offer up some food, drink or even a tent to share.

The camping ground is referred to as “the dust bowl” as it is whipped up by the wind and the stomping of thousands of feet.

During the “hardships” of Oppikoppi, including the dust, fluctuating temperature and hang- overs, festival-goers will have to remind themselves not to complain by remembering the lyrics from Sweet Thing: “We shall walk and talk, in gardens all misty and wet with rain and I will never, never, never grow so old again.”