Held in the disused Gdynia-Kosakowo military airport in Poland from Wednesday July 3 to Saturday July 6, Open’er is the country’s premier music festival and has cultivated a reputation for offering one of the strongest line-ups of the season. This year is no exception with sets from the likes of Idles, Jorja Smith, Swedish House Mafia, Vampire Weekend and Kylie Minogue. Here’s our picks of who not to miss over the four glorious days.
The legends who kickstarted the noughties indie boom
It’s now 18 years since The Strokes – the acme of early-noughties cool – released their epochal debut album ‘This Is It’, which rescued indie guitar music from its sexless Travis/Starsailor slough. What better way to celebrate than by dusting off your Converses and watching them blitz through stone-cold classics like ‘New York City Cops’ and the immortal ‘Last Nite’, as they headline the main stage on Thursday July 4. Live outings from the quintet are relatively rare, and recent reviews suggest they feel renewed as a band of brothers and are on blistering form. As NME recently raved, “their rip-roaring show makes for the freshest of nostalgia fests”. You’re getting a lot of Julian Casablancas bang for your buck at Open’er: The Strokes frontman is on double-duty as his second band, The Voidz (who recently dropped a new Mac DeMarco co-produced single ‘The Eternal Tao’) are also poised to play a day earlier.
The queen of the sad banger
There are few experiences more transcendent than singing along to ‘Dancing On My Own’ at a festival, as queen of the sad banger Robyn’s joyous dance parties specialise in turning complete strangers into friends. Having returned last year with a stunning new album ‘Honey’ (her first since 2010’s pop-reshaping ‘Body Talk’), she’ll be bringing her new material and tears-in-the-toilets (copyright: Neil Tennant) anthems like ‘Call Your Girlfriend’ and ‘With Every Heartbeat’ to Open’er on Wednesday July 3.
The reunited ‘90s rock giants
The Smashing Pumpkins
Previously you might have assumed you were more likely to see Ann Widdecombe eagerly waving a Rainbow flag aboard a Pride float than witnessing grudge-stockpiler Billy Corgan reunite the iconic ‘90s rock giants. But he’s no longer Billy-no-mates: last year, he reformed The Smashing Pumpkins classic line-up (with the exception of original bassist D’arcy Wretzky) and released their first new album in 18 years, ‘Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1/ LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun’, which NME hailed as “eight tracks that boast the finer strands of their DNA without relying too much on nostalgia as a crutch”. Watch them underline their influence when they headline the main stage on Friday July 5.
The band at the peak of their powers
Fresh from winning two Ivor Novellos, The 1975 bring tracks from ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships’ – a modern-life distilling opus which was widely compared to a millennial ‘OK Computer’ (as well as bagging NME’s Album of 2018) – to Gdynia on Thursday July 4. Charismatic born-pop-star Matty Healy is now playing stages as big as his ego and ambition, and their recent tour proved to be a life-affirmingly innovative spectacle. He’s also on the side of the angels, using his platform to open up conversations about misogyny in music and donating a substantial amount of money to a London LGBTQ Community Centre. Ahead of releasing their eagerly-awaited new LP ‘Notes On A Conditional Form’, the Manchester quintet are in their imperial phase and it’ll be interesting to see what Matty pulls out of his (rabbit-eared) hat at Open’er.
The futuristic flamenco star
As the boom for Latin pop continues, the 25 year old’s rewiring of traditional Spanish flamenco with R&B beats, and electrifying choreography-heavy live performances see her threaten to emerge as the breakout hit of this year’s festival season. Last year’s ‘El Mal Querer’ album planted her flag as a future force, and with fans including Dua Lipa and Charli XCX (and collabs with Billie Eilish and Pharrell on the horizon), you can witness first-hand what all the fuss is about when she plays Open’er on Friday July 5.
The rapper bringing white knuckle thrills
Travis Scott made 2018’s best rap album with the star-studded ‘Astroworld’ – which boasted appearances from Kanye West, Stevie Wonder, Drake and Frank Ocean – and even toured a live show in the US which included an actual roller coaster suspended over the audience. Awarding ‘Astroworld’ a full five stars, NME raved: “The rapper has produced a lush, complex, extraordinarily accomplished album that invites us mere mortals to peer in at his life behind the velvet rope.” Having already proved a dab hand at headlining festivals, strap in for white knuckle thrills when he tops the bill on Open’er’s opening Wednesday.
The perfect festival closer
Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey closes four days of music on with a headline performance on Saturday July 6. As she prepares to release her latest album, the brilliantly-titled, Jack Antonoff-produced ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell’ later this year, she’ll be bringing her peerless sadness-in-the-sunshine bangers to Poland’s Baltic Coast. Will it go off? Of course. She’s Lana Del Fucking Rey, after all.
Open’er Festival returns to Gdynia once more from Wednesday July 3 to Saturday July 6. For tickets and more information on Open’er 2019, visit here.