day three 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

Massive delays at the shuttle-bus mean we miss the start of Bloc Party’s opening set on the final day of the decidedly average Open’er. We arrive during a thumping run through of ‘The Prayer’, but as we approach the main stage, the crowd don’t seem to be nearly as enthused by it as you’d image upon hearing the glorious noise reign out at a distance.

Bloc Party themselves don’t seem to be making too much effort, if the crowd don’t bother then why should they? They play through the hits, but without the sparkle or drive of shows back home. Kele doesn’t seem to care either way. We’ll meet him again later on in the crowd for Bjork, where he admits his contempt for the crowd around him. I don’t blame him, people don’t dance, they just push or stand still and look bored. What a shame.

It’s a quick hop over to the 2nd stage for the Beastie Boys’ second show of the weekend, the ‘Gala Instrumental’ performance. So - Ever hear the one about the latter day hip-hop band so smug with their own creativity that they had the cheek to tour an instrumental show when all people wanted was the hits? No, of course you didn't, because the 'instrumental' tag was a ruse to out-smart us. Anyone dedicated enough to turn up to hear them perform their new album of vocal-less arrangements gets a surprise - they've only gone and dug further into the vaults, resurrecting forgotten album tracks and re-arranging classic singles, book-ending their career in a way that reflects succinctly the chasm of excitement and talent it's been fuelled on.

Amazingly, the atmosphere is at direct odds to yesterday's mainstage appearance. People here love the Beastie Boys more than their mothers, if King Ad Rock farted into a microphone for an hour, they'd still cheer. Thankfully flatulance eludes the 'instumental' set-list, in favour of newly arranged renditions of 'Remote Control' and 'Root Down' that see the crowd inspired to dance in arrangements they've never danced before. Over three decades they've ploughed hip-hop, rock, funk, dance, bossanova and just about any other niche genre you can think of. Finally they've created a show that draws on all of the avenues they've explored, encapsulating every peak they've ever reached. They may be old, the people of Poland may not wholly understand them but - holy moly - the Beastie Boys are still music innovators on an international scale - something we'd be fools to forget.

After all that excitement, there’s still the majestic Bjork to return to, who performs to a desperately ungrateful, muted crowd, through a bad soundsystem. Despite this she’s still utterly serene. Ok, so it’s not a patch on her stunning performance at Glastonbury the week before, but in transcendent moments like ‘All Is Full Of Love’ and a mesmerising ‘Joga’, crowd and festival annoyances sink into the background, everything in space and times stops and looks at her – everything is unified, everything makes sense.

Her live show is stunning, with a 12 piece Icelandic orchestra, pyrotechnics, mental visuals and a spectacular laser show. The latter songs give way to her more ferocious edge, ‘Hyper-ballad’ re-imagined as a pounding electro fuss A bomb (I’ll be honest though, I prefer the original) and the climatic ‘Declare Independence’ raising the mud from the festival floor, such is the boot stomping it inspires.

LCD Soundsystem follow, but due to writing commitments I’m forced to listen in through one ear from the dull sanctity of the press tent. It sounds good, but it’s LCD Soundsystem, so of course it’s going to be.

But after all is said and done, Open’er ends for me on an undeniable high. Come midnight, the fierce security guards around the festival leave their posts for bed, and finally everyone relaxes for one final night’s fun. Suddenly the alcohol becomes free, in a drink-the-barrel dry kind of way. Anyone still willing to give the night ago heads to the 2nd stage for Smolik, a native jazz band who play right through until the early hours. Drunk and determined to have a good time, the weather has finally cleared up and it all falls together. The sun rise is astounding and it leaves me wishing that the festival had had more high points like these.

With time hopefully the organisers will lighten up. They’ve got the mega-headliners, sure, but a festival needs more than that. Otherwise, it turns into V. Chill out on the security, have more variety and stages throughout the day, and for heaven’s sake let the people on site know it’s ok for them to have a good time – it is, after all, their money being spent.
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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