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Belgian, SA promoters partner on Matchbox Live

The new promotion venture, backed by Pukkelpop and comms agency Boondoggle, hopes to "grow OppiKoppi into one of the most influential festivals on the African continent"

By Jon Chapple on 30 May 2017

Boargazm, OppiKoppi 2014, Hilltop Live, Matchbox Live

Pretoria space-metallers Boargazm at OppiKoppi 2014

image © Heine van der Walt

Leading festival industry figures in Belgium and South Africa have partnered for the launch of Matchbox Live, a new live entertainment venture that aims to “grow the South African live music industry by producing unique events and festivals with potential for international growth”.

Pretoria-based Matchbox is the brainchild of Belgian festival Pukkelpop; Belgian communications agency Boondoggle, which has an office in South African capital Cape Town; Hilltop Live, the promoter behind Limpopo event OppiKoppi; and Sho Sho Communications, which co-owns Pretoria festival Hello Ambassador and Johannesburg venue Good Luck Bar.

It is led by CEO Theresho Selesho, the managing director of Sho Sho and director of business development at Boondoggle South Africa.

Selesho comments: “It’s an exciting time in our vibrant country and continent. The combination of existing events, strong experience and foreign investment is a powerful combination.”

There is a history of collaboration between Pukkelpop, Belgium’s second-biggest music festival, and the ~20,000-cap. OppiKoppi, which has grown to become South Africa’s most popular event, in the form of an exchange programme involving artists and crew. Pukkelpop promoter Chokri Mahassine says Matchbox Live will take the festivals’ partnership “to the next level”.

“It’s an exciting time in our vibrant country and continent”

“In the past 20 years we’ve had an excellent relationship with our South African friends,” says Mahassine, who spoke to IQ last month about the history of the event and the health of the Belgian festival market. “Now the time has come to take our partnership to the next level.

“Just as [with] Pukkelpop, OppiKoppi wants to keep track of new musical talent without losing sight of the big, established names. Through Matchbox Live we can help OppiKoppi to grow into one of the most influential festivals on the African continent.”

The 2017 edition of OppiKoppi, a Burning Man-like festival that takes place in the harsh South African bushveld, will be the first organised under the Matchbox Live banner. This will be followed by Drumbeat and Lekkerland, with new events to be announced “at a later stage”.

“The family behind OppiKoppi dropped into the live music business by accident in 1994,” comments Hilltop Live’s Carel Hoffman.“That is more than 23 years of gung-ho, rock’n’roll management. Along the way conversations with international counterparts started and have led to the stage where we can bring in strategic partners. We have built a team that can carry the flame forward, which is great news for music fans.”

A joint South African–Norwegian report revealed last year that the South African live biz will experience strong growth through 2021 – although without “enhanced investment” from government and big corporations it would continue to lag behind Western markets.


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