Two decades after its humble beginnings as a one-day event in Warsaw, Poland’s Open’er Festival returned to Gdynia earlier this month, with some of the world’s biggest names filling out its four-day extravaganza. Like many other festivals across the globe, it marked the first time in three years that the event had been able to go ahead, and the atmosphere at the Babie Doły Military Airport site was one of pure celebration.
Inhaler were one of the first acts to kick off day one but, despite the festival still being in its first few hours, the crowd in the Alter Stage tent didn’t need much warming up. The Dublin four-piece were greeted by a passionate audience – a constant sight at Open’er – who bounced and chanted along to the anthemic likes of ‘It Won’t Always Be Like This’ and the soaring new single ‘These Are The Days’.
Later, Måneskin pulled what felt like the entire festival to the main stage field for an incendiary set that marked them out as future headliners to everyone watching – and the band themselves. “It’s not my bad, it’s production’s bad,” frontman Damiano David told the crowd when they moaned about the end of the set approaching. “Complain to them – we could be headliners, but we’re not.”
Instead of the Italian rock upstarts, Imagine Dragons topped the bill on the first day, bringing a cross-section of their back catalogue to the Polish bash and sharing a heartfelt message on the invasion of nearby Ukraine. A$AP Rocky followed them for a special late-night set, provoking a mini-flood of bras to be thrown at the stage. Swinging each piece of underwear around in his hands as he performed, the New York rapper delivered a set of “rock star levels only” and some of his biggest and most inventive songs, from ‘Wild For The Night’ and ‘Fuckin’ Problems’ to ‘L$D’ and ‘Everday’.
Day two flirted with fracas as the festival site just missed being engulfed by a storm – a force of nature that cast a dramatic backdrop to the main stage. Glass Animals’ mega-hit ‘Heat Waves’ might be more typically associated with balmy summer days, but when they performed it at Open’er, it was accompanied by lashings of lightning cutting through the sky in the distance.
The festival might have missed that storm, but Thursday’s headliners Twenty One Pilots brought their own hurricane of showmanship and stunts, Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun taking it in turns to climb up scaffolding towers and deliver drum solos from drum risers in the crowd, somersault off the top of pianos and ask fans to hold them up on their hands as they towered over the crowd.
Friday should have brought superstars like Dua Lipa and Megan Thee Stallion to Gdynia, but Mother Nature had other plans – unleashing buckets of rain, thunder and lightning over the festival instead. London rapper Flohio managed to kickstart her Alter Stage set, bringing playful versions of a handful of songs, including ‘My World’, to the tent before the power was cut.
Once the storm had passed, Sky Ferreira took to that same stage and, despite technical difficulties, aired a darkly-lit performance full of bangers like ‘Boys’ and ‘Heavy Metal Heart’ that was perfect for peeking out behind the clouds. On the main stage, Martin Garrix helped revellers enjoy at least a slice of party-time with a juddering, hit-packed set, while the Czujesz Klimat? Stage played host to Polish acts, like the alternative hip-hop stylings of Meek, Oh Why? and the brilliant pop of Zalia.
Damp skies in Gdynia did not mean damp spirits, though, and Saturday wrapped up this year’s edition of Open’er on a high. Jessie Ware brought slick and sensual R&B to the main stage, while Cate Le Bon transformed the Alter Stage into a medieval utopia, performing her whimsical and wonderful songs while dressed in a chainmail headpiece and knight’s gown. Cigarettes After Sex packed out the Tent Stage, fans spilling out far from the canvas to catch a glimpse of the band, while Peggy Gou ramped up the party back on the main stage.
The closing headline set was in good hands with The Killers, renowned showstoppers for whom putting on a spectacle is in their Las Vegas blood. Open’er was no different, frontman Brandon Flowers conducting the crowd with ease as the band ran through flawless versions of the likes of ‘Smile Like You Mean It’, ‘When You Were Young’, and ‘Mr Brightside’ and confetti rained down on on the site to create the perfect end to the Polish party. Roll on next year.