It was the tenth anniversary of the Heineken Open’er this year and with headlining acts including; Prince, Coldplay and The Strokes, this years was a line up that rivalled any other main stream festival. Situated in the north of Poland, it might not be the first to come to mind when thinking about going away to a festival next summer, but it’s soon making a name for itself for as an international festival. We arrived on Friday morning having, much to our dismay, missed sets by Daktari, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Paulo Nutini and Coldplay, but that was not to get in the way of a great line up for day two. Once we’d battled with the wind and rain to set up our tent, we set off to explore the festival grounds, but came to find that they were actually a bit of a ghost town. Each day the festival grounds didn’t open until four, so until then, there wasn’t actually anything happening.
The festival really only got going at around 8:30pm with Abraham Inc. opening on the World Stage, a blend of Klezmer music, funk, hip hop and jazz, with a beat so infectious, the crowd though soaking wet, could hardly contain themselves, and neither could we. Headlining on the main stage, Pulp performed a set that no one would easily forget, as the rain poured relentlessly on to the stage the band refused defeat and continued playing to a soaking wet, yet wildly adoring audience. The frenzy culminating as Jarvis Cocker screamed out to the crowd, ‘Gdansk would you like to Gdance?‘ and they did, breaking out into manic dancing the party continued regardless of the stormy weather.
Day three, like day two, got off to a slow start. We were rudely awakened at a ridiculous time, (before midday), by music blaring out from speakers set up on the camp site. Not cool. Forced to get up, we trudged to the town to find some warm food, before the festival kicked off again. Prince, put on an amazing show, confetti cannons, four encores and fireworks, he never did do things by halves did he? Day four brought with it the sunshine that we had been expecting all along, and These new Puritans, as well as a set by James Blake were truly breathtaking. The clash of organic sounds and tribal rhythms, with the produced sounds of the synths, make These New Puritans absolutely unmissable. And James Blake’s, pensive melodies, artful use of delay and relatively small band left chills running down our spines.
On the main stage that night, The Strokes opened with ‘New York City Cops’ and continued to play almost their entire début album, to an ecstatic crowd. Then Deadmau5 took over to close the festival with an unforgettable set which the crowd absolutely loved, it was the perfect end to an almost flawless festival.
As we left for the final time, we had little to complain about, the Heineken Open’er definitely competed with all the major festivals around today, but there was something missing. If festivals are about the music alone, then the Heineken really did deliver, but, if its about more than that, if its about the experience of being taken to a new world, of street artists, creative spaces, quirky venues, and a unique shared experience, then this festival comes up short.
The big sponsor, left little room for any sort of character, everywhere we looked there was the Heineken logo, and though drinks were way cheaper than you will ever find them at a UK festival, the choice was Heineken and nothing else. If you want to explore a new city, and go to a festival with a line up pretty similar to a UK main stream festival, then the Open’er is great, but if you’re looking for something a little more unique and quirky then this probably isn’t it.