Heineken Open’er Festival – Gdansk, Poland
Heineken’s Open’er festival, a place to eat Heineken, drink Heineken and sleep Heineken only. Situated on the fields and runways of the ex-military airport of Kosokowo, which worked out in practice being a free 15 minute festival bus ride away from Gdynia Glowna’s mainline station, part of the SKM rail network and integral part of the industrial northern region of Poland.
What is worth noting about the festival is that not only is it great value for money compared to some of the overly valued English festivals, i.e. a 4-day ticket with 7 day camping was PLN 550 (£110) advance booking was also available at a special rate. This ticket also allowed all festival goers a pass to the extra 5th bonus day of acts.
Open’er and Poland in general was a very no nonsense affair and pretty efficient in all regards with most staff and locals thankfully having a basic enough level of English in order to help us out with the multitude of enquires we shared with them. What was also clear at this festival is, whilst there is obviously a big focus on the music it is also very cultural and political event; with a plane shaped out of 4 white coaches which was free for anybody to graffiti and was was one of several centre pieces on display with many feel the artwork was a shrine to the 2010 Polish Air Force Tu-154 crash which took the lives of multiple members of the polish government.
Aside from that rather darker thought of the art on display therewas also of course the huge Ferris wheel located in the middle of site, being both large in stature and the public conciousness and the attraction proved very popular with festival goers.
Wednesday, the opening day of the festival belonged to Blur, playing a career spanning set, in which was remarkably their first performance in Poland. The set was closed with fan favourite ‘Song 2’ which turned large swathes of the crowd into a sea of air guitarists and drummers.
Following Blur Alt-J took to a packed tent stage around 11.30 to play a set including ‘Tesselate’, ‘Breezeblocks, and a cover of College’s ‘A Real Hero’.
Crystal Castles followed Alt-J in the tent stage and hit it like The XX but with personality. The 1.30am timeslot and lack of action on other stages meant the tent was filled to the brim with a hyped up crowd, and the band certainly didn’t disappoint with a set featuring ‘Alice Practice’ and ‘Not In Love’.
Onto day two of the festival, Aussie psych-rock band Tame Impala kicked us off with a set including ‘Half full glass of wine’ and ‘Elephant’ for a crowd who refused to let the festivals only 20 minute spell of rain spoil their mood.
Then came the Arctic Monkeys on the back of one of their greatest headline sets ever at Glastonbury, 6 days prior. How would this compare? Well they kept to the same setlist and Alex Turner continued with his Elvis-like drawl in between songs to complete his look. The crowd were putty in their hands from the moment they launched into new single ‘Do I wanna know?’ and the Polish crowd continued singing along with gusto to the hit-laden set until they closed with ‘505’.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds had the unenviable task of following the Arctic Monkeys onto the main stage, however his intense set was a hit with the crowd which included classic and new songs. Thursday closed on the Tent Stage with Polish favourite Maria Peszek, looking like a Polish version of Pink, entertaining the Heineken fuelled crowd.
Friday, Day 3, and another British band take to the main stage, this time Skunk Anansie’s turn, with lead singer Skin on top form sporting a sparkly trouser attire and a fresh ombre quiffed hairstyle, they hit us with a rousing set including hits ‘Weak’ and ‘I Can Dream’.
Up next were rockers Queens Of The Stone Age and they smashed through a collection of tracks from the new album ‘Like Clockwork’ and their greatest hits. The crowd going crazy from the moment they opened with ‘Feelgood Hit Of The Summer’. Lead singer Josh Homme (sporting a new #1 Phil Mitchell-esque doo/ginger skinhead) was in high spirits and claimed “This is the best crowd of the tour and there’s no one even fucking close”.
However it was Disclosure who stole the show on the tent stage at around 1am, where the British brotherly duo made us proud with their bass-heavy set that had the crowd bouncing so high I wasn’t sure if the roof was going to be high enough at times. Popular tracks ‘White noise’ and ‘Latch’ in particular, sent the tent into utter delirium.