Thursday, July 07, 2016

Live Review :: Open'er Festival, Gdynia, Poland - Jun 29 - Jul 2 2016

Live Review

Open'er Festival

Kosakawo Airport, Gdynia, Poland

June 29 - July 2 2016

Words: Izzy B

Gdynia, Gdynia, we're in ya! With feelings running high post-Brexit, and with small factions of the UK exhibiting anti-Polish abuse, as a Brit stepping onto Polish soil, therefore, there was a slight trepidation about being too blatantly one of the 'leavers' on arriving at the former airfield site for 2016's Open'er Festival. In the end any bad blood between nations who have pitched up for the four-day event was firmly left behind as everyone quickly got down to the business they had come for: enjoying the music.

Now there may only be four stages at Open'er but trying to race between them, shoving everyone in your path to one side with a profusion of "excuse me"'s, is still an onerous business, especially when there's just one of you trying to cover a whole gamut of artists. Anyway, the first day kicks off - on my schedule of 'to sees' anyway - with Shy Albatross, a Polish band of alt-folk persuasion, who provide a gentle, persuasive set of mandolins and violins and female vocalist Natalia, during their late afternoon set on the Alter Stage.

The Last Shadow Puppets

Early evening sees the start of the big guns, with Alex and Miles bringing The Last Shadow Puppets to the festival Main Stage, including an improvised song about Tame Impala with Turner singing: "There's a storm brewing... there's a storm brewing in the form of Tame Impala," before alluding to the grey skies overhead, saying "Kevin Parker controls the weather around here", as well as covering The Fall's 'Totally Wired' and David Bowie's 'Moonage Daydream'.

The aforesaid Tame Impala closed the festival with a post-midnight appearance, delivering a set of equal parts awesome shoegaze material, and stunning lights and visuals. As Kevin Parker entreats the crowd to join in on songs like the familiar ‘Elephant’, ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards' and ‘Less I Know The Better’. They were preceded earlier by Savages and PJ Harvey. The former's Jehnny Beth holds court before an appreciative crowd, running through the bulk of their 14-song set from their 'Adore Life' second album, with a few older favourites like 'Husbands' thrown in.

PJ Harvey

PJ Harvey hauls out a massive number of bodies in what is her touring band. It's a big set too, in every form, piling in ten songs from her impassioned latest album 'The Hope Demolition Project', saving an encore for 'Working For The Man' and 'A Perfect Day Elise' from 1998's 'Is This Desire?'

The ubiquitous Florence And The Machine play the Main Stage as headliners. Flo, looking floatily visual with flower headband, pink trousers and white blouse, went on and on - and on about seeing "so much love here. The world needs love! You have so much love to give," before what seemed like forever she finally got down to giving some love herself with 'You've Got The Love', one of a 17-song set that also included a cover of Calvin Harris' 'Sweet Nothing', and a close out with a 'Third Eye' special, given a Polish touch here.

Florence and the Machine

Day Two is mostly all about Red Hot Chili Peppers - and football. Bassist Flea led the audience in a Polish football chant, ‘Polska Bialoczerwoni’, set to the tune of Pet Shop Boys’ ‘Go West’ during the band's headline set as Poland's national team went on to lose in the Euro 2016 quarter-final that was taking place in Marseille at the same tume. Opening on 'Can't Stop', their set included 'Dani California', 'Detroit', 'Warszawa', a David Bowie cover, and a brief snatch of The Stooges' 'I Wanna Be Your Dog'.

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Earlier, the Oxford indie kings Foals had gathered a strong crowd to see them perform their mid-evening set on the Main Stage, which included a broad range of songs from their four albums, opening on 'Snake Oil' from 'What Went Down' and closing on 'Two Steps, Twice' off of  their 2008 'Antidotes' debut. As sunset drew in, they gave an enthusiastic crowd 'Mountain At The Gates', 'Inhaler' and 'What Went Down', with vocalist Yannis Philippakis telling them they were "a badass crowd."

Late into Thursday night/Friday morning, M83 light up the night sky with a dazzling display of light effects as they close the night's events. Though playing to a crowd less in numbers than earlier in the evening they still manage to pull out of the bag enough songs to enthral those who've remained.


Also on Thursday, we had Beirut arrive with 20 songs and trumpets ablaze - a lot of brass with this American indie/world-infusion band that rides on the alt-folk perimeters - on the Tent Stage. Zach Condon and his five-piece outfit provide just the right ambience thst settles nicely with a happy, dancing crowd out front. Canadian DJ, Caribou kept the party going on the same stage, entertaining a weary, sweaty crowd until well past 1am.

LCD Soundsystem

Friday saw the temperatures up, and not just weather-wise. LCD Soundsystem play their first show in Poland in nine years, following on from their Glastonbury appearance last week. James Murphy, giving the cymbals a good kicking, sets the stage alight with 'Daft Punk Is Playing At My House', 'I Can Change', ‘New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down’, ‘Dance Yrself Clean’, the rousing ‘All My Friends’ and a mood grooving rendition of 'Someone Great'.

Sigur Rós

Following them on the festival's Main Stage come Sigur Rós. Drawing a massive crowd to watch them undertake 'Óveður', favourite 'Starálfur' and 'Kveikur'. Remaining silent between each of the 12 songs, the three members of the band do little to engage with an audience, letting the music convey words instead.

Which is something Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa doesn't do, as joined by two giant inflatable spliffs bouncing over the crowd during his earlier set, he enlightened everyone that, "My name's Wiz Khalifa and I do two things: I do what I fucking want and I get high." 'Black And Yellow', 'Most Of Us' and 'See You Again' all made it about the buzz and getting as high as...well, a balloon, if not a kite.

The 1975

As the weather hotted up into the 80s on the last day, so too did the last flurry of artists drawing the festival to an end. Unfortunately, the heavens also saw fit to open causing The 1975's tea-time set to be delayed for more than an hour. When they did eventually make it to the Main Stage their set had to be cut short. After opening song 'Love Me', frontman Matt Healy apologised to the
crowd, "for all the technical difficulties," as they pressed on; after 'Heart Out', Healy announcing that, "We're the 1975. Everything's fucked but
we're good, right?" Still, they still manage to get some 'Girls', 'Chocolate' and 'Sex' in, which can only having delighted their legion of adoring female fans.

Bastille and frontman Dan Smith also have a strong following, and the Polish audience go wild for Smith's exuberant stage show, as he jumps amps and continually cuts a spurt across the stage. Their set is made up of a strong component from their 'Bad Blood' album, including live favourites 'Flaws', 'Icarus' and 'Pompeii'. These are balanced with new songs 'Good Grief' and 'Snakes' which appear on their new album which is set for release in September.


As Open'er 2016 draws to a close, fireworks rain down and spark up the night's blackness, Grimes takes us from Saturday into Sunday morning with her Tent Stage headline appearance. As she embarks on first number ‘REALITi’, it's already clear this is time for the place to go wild and celebrate not just Grimes but what has been a largely - weather excepting - incredible four days. With the real festival vibe flowing around the thousands gathered, she nails a perfect set that sees ‘Flesh Without Blood’, ‘Oblivion’, the Aristophanes Russian collaboration of 'Scream', and ‘Kill v Maim’ to finish the end of the night in fine style, saying for all of us: "Thank you so much for having us here in Poland. We never thought we'd be able to come here."

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