day one review

Open'er

published: Mon 16th Jul 2007

Friday 29th June to Sunday 1st July 2007
Babie Doły Airfield, Gdynia, Poland, Poland
3-day: 249 PLN (approx. 64 EUR) without camping or 269 PLN (approx. 69 EUR) with camping
last updated: Thu 29th Mar 2007

Put it down to inexperience if you will – Poland’s still suffering some kind of communist hangover that’s preventing it from completely letting go and having fun – despite Open’er’s best efforts to be like the shiny MTV-suckering mega-festivals it sees in capitalist powerhouse countries overseas, the three day festival in Gdynia on an army airfield betrays it’s idealistic corporate façade (itself a hollow aspiration) as a crooked, undernourished and occasionally corrupt festival. It also rained a lot which, after Glastonbury still fresh in our memory the day before, didn’t really help matters.

Before getting into the meat of bands playing (or maybe that should be grizzle, they had some big name headliners going for them – but nothing else to do in the meantime), let me share a little story with you.

If you thought getting into Glastonbury was hard, forget it. To breach security at Baby Dolie airfield you need more than a ticket and photo I.D. – you need the cunning of a detective and a fair degree of luck. Well, that’s how it seemed for me at least.

When a security guard at the entrance asked to see my ticket, I politely informed him I was fortunate enough to have arranged a press pass and if he could direct me to the press tent to collect it. Not understanding a word I’d said, he point to his right and said “Newspaper? Next exit”.

45 minutes walk later around the massive airfield perimeter, I finally reach an artists gate, but when I ask them there a butch man in dark glasses tells me to turn around and walk 20 minutes away from the airfield, down an un-named road. “Turn left, then left again, you will find press there”.

Confused, tired, and in need of a beer, it’s only when one well meaning chap leaving the compound in his van starts to talk to me that I realise that everyone around me has been lying aimlessly...if they don’t know how to help me they’ve just told me to bugger off some place else where they can’t see me.

I don’t have any passes and no one wants to let me anywhere near the press tent where I can pick mine up. “Get in the van” the man says, “I’ll take you to the press area”. What could possibly have been the most stupid decision of my life – getting into the back of a truck of a strange Polish man under circumstances where I’ve been deceived by every person I’ve spoken to for the last hour and a half – actually turns out to be the right choice. Yes, I have to hide like a stowaway to get through security, but once I’m in, the kind people at the press tent hand over my wristband without a second glance and...here we go Open’er begins!

Or not...there’s a problem trying to get through the main gate. The security doesn’t want me to take my personal digital camera in because it’s over three mega pixels. They try to get me to pay a guy to look after it for me for the weekend. Considering they try the same thing on my mate, but tell him six mega pixels, this is probably another swindle. This camera’s new, I don’t fancy having it nicked, so I leave the queue and return later at another gate with it hidden in my trousers, and I get through no problem.

What a fuss. And for what? Well. Not a lot actually. Each night the main stage hosts a meagre three bands, the 2nd stage several more but it’s largely made up of bands like Pink Freud – an ear splittingly awful jam band who, according to the program, were put together specially for the festival! Are they really that low on bookings?

The first night is all a bit underwhelming. Sonic Youth are a let down. I was forced to miss them at Primavera Sound in Barcelona a few weeks back after a mate got ill, and was really looking forward to finally hearing them rip through 'Daydream Nation' in full. Sadly, this was the one night of the tour where they didn’t bother playing it, and the half-full crowd of fans watching them seem pretty nonplussed about it.

My friends and I decide to get a beer to lighten the mood, when we encounter the next of Open’er’s many peculiarities. Beer must only be consumed at the point it is purchased, you cannot take it to the stages with you, only stand outside the place you bought it and drink it there. Pretty annoying, but this frustration is multiplied tenfold when – hold on – I’m only allowed to get beer from the designated Press bar, which is at the opposite end of the field to all my friends. Seeing as we’ve already stocked up on beer tokens unaware of this, it marks the first of several split trips for alcohol – where they go one way, I go another, we get pissed on our own then reconvene later.

Oh and I really hate to moan so much, but the soundsystem at the festival is AWFUL. Truly and utterly awful. It’s too quiet, it’s muddy, but somehow still overlaps with the sound on the second stage. All of this and the other frustrations of the day mean that by The Roots come on, I’m not even willing to give them a chance. They do a hell of a lot of jamming (NO, NO MORE JAMMING!!!), a few bad covers and a few medleys, and even during massive single ‘The Seed’ there appears to be little of any merit going on.

Oh well – things do pick up finally on Day 1 on Open’er. Half the crowd have never heard of Dizzee Rascal over on the 2nd stage, but then the other half have all cashed in for a cheap holiday from Britain and can spit back (almost) every lyric. As a result, his set goes down an absolute storm. The sound is better in this tented stage, and the atmosphere is eager. After so many let downs, everyone seems desperate to LET GO. New tracks like ‘Sirens’ and ‘Pussy’ole’ (charming), go down just as well as the tracks that made him famous ‘Fix Up Look Sharp’ and ‘Jus A Rascal’, and by finale ‘Stand Up Tall’ everybody – EVERYBODY – is dancing. WOOHOO!! SUCCESS!!!

Back on the main stage Laurent Garnier is keeping the good vibes going with the surprise set of the weekend. The French electro DJ plays drum’n’bass, techno, trip-hop and house plucked from all corners of his career from his channel hopping Madchester roots right up until present day programmings. He drew the smallest main stage crowd of the weekend, but actually ends up one of the highlights and, despite all the ridiculous carryings on of the day before him, allows this reviewer to go to bed with a smile on his face. Ahhh.
review by: Alex Hoban

Friday 29th June to Sunday 1st July 2007
Babie Doły Airfield, Gdynia, Poland, Poland
3-day: 249 PLN (approx. 64 EUR) without camping or 269 PLN (approx. 69 EUR) with camping
last updated: Thu 29th Mar 2007


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