Festivals Open’er Festival 2016: Day One

Open’er Festival 2016: Day One

2016’s bash kicks off with a look ahead to future headliners.

Today’s big-hitters at Open’er are still dusting off the mud and the hangovers from last weekend’s Glastonbury. Maybe Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker the most, who’s a very poorly boy, almost not making the band’s closing set on day one of Open’er 2016.

Skepta opens things up on the main stage, a last-minute replacement for Mac Miller, and commands a small but viciously passionate crowd in a summer that looks to be unmistakably his. British bands form the meat of today’s proceedings, with The Last Shadow Puppets following. It’s only 7pm but Alex Turner is most certainly already… lubricated. It only serves to heighten the sense of performance and dramatisation from the duo though, especially when they open with a cover of The Fall’s ‘Totally Wired’.

There’s more than a bit of Pete ’n’ Carl in the pair’s interaction onstage, crashing into each other in a loving - if slightly staged - embrace. The Open’er crowd welcomes every single performer today with open arms and screaming lungs, but The Last Shadow Puppets get a little more. Banners adorn the front row - “Alex you Turn-er me on” a highlight - and every hip shake, crooning vocal or shambolic guitar solo is greeted with Beatlemania-level screeches.

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As far along the spectrum (and the enormous main field) as you can get, PJ Harvey is next in the tent - understated, and powered by precision. The touring party for ‘The Hope Six Demolition Project’ has the make-up and power of a marching band, eight thunderous voices backing up PJ’s impassioned rallying cries. Even though “they’re gonna build a Walmart here!” remains the most cringeworthy line of the year, her preaching feels powerful and potent today.

Potent is something that could easily describe Savages’ crushing set in the cosy Alter tent. Jehnny Beth is on menacing form tonight, clearly revelling in the greater confidence the band have found through second album ‘Adore Life’. Dropping ‘I Am Here’ and ‘Husbands’ into the set early just emphasises how far they’ve come since the release of ‘Silence Yourself’, and the step up is received with wide-eyed wonder by the ever-appreciative Polish crowd.

A melee of bodies appears for ‘T.I.W.Y.G.’, and by the time ‘Adore’ enters, there’s even lighters being waved - Savages never seemed the type to approach being anthemic, but here we are. Jehnny’s transformation as a leader of the band gives them unstoppable power onstage.

As soon as Savages exit to blinding light and cheers of astonishment, the sound from Open’er’s cavernous main stage bleeds into the tent. It’s the third to last night of Florence + The Machine’s gigantic world tour for ‘How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful’, and the formula’s getting a little tired. The hits are still unquestionably there - ‘You Got The Love’, ‘Dog Days Are Over’ and ‘Cosmic Love’ can still command any crowd on the planet - but the sense of needing something new is paramount. There’s little doubt that when it comes post-Hyde Park, Florence will be rejuvenated once again.

Mac DeMarco is someone that doesn’t need a kick back into life though - his first visit to Poland is greeted by sheer pandemonium. He’s universally adored pretty much wherever he goes now, but tonight is something else. There’s banners everywhere, kids on shoulders in the first song, and the front row almost entirely adorned in his trademark baseball caps. It’s a boy band-style welcome, and even for someone growing in popularity so rapidly, it seems to take Mac by surprise.

It’s past midnight, and Kevin Parker strides out onto the main stage, heads to the edge of the crowd and lifts his arms aloft. It’s striking how he even made it to play tonight, as well as how much of a frontman he’s become. The set is peppered with “how are you doing? how are you DOING?”, requests to sing along - stage banter 101 basically, but one of the reasons Tame Impala look terrifyingly close to reaching the very top, and a whole world away from the insular psych-peddlers of ‘Innerspeaker’ and ‘Lonerism’.

As mainland European festivals often do, the closing band plays after the headliner tonight, but Tame Impala on the main stage after Florence and co doesn’t seem strange - top slots across the world look to be within their grasp. ‘Elephant’ and ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’, songs which once felt shy, have become powerful anthems, and with the additions of ‘Let It Happen’, and ‘Less I Know The Better’, Tame Impala are within touching distance of that final step. The set becomes the slightest bit tired and barren of hits towards its finale, but give them one more album, two more hits, and the world is theirs. 

Photos: Emma Swann