It’s an eerily quiet Open’er on the final afternoon of its 2016 edition, thanks to a forecasted storm set to rip through Gdynia this evening. Right on cue, the wind and rain hits about 20 minutes before The 1975 are set to play. Their set is delayed by well over an hour, and Matt Healy accurately describes the situation when they do make it out: “Hello, we’re The 1975, and everything is fucked.”
A lot of the energy of the band’s live show is sapped today, with the front half of the sodden stage unusable, and the band’s equipment having been covered in bin bags for the last two hours. The admirably hardened ten rows who stayed put even through the worst weather - it literally makes the stage shake - are full of energy nonetheless.
No such problems have affected the tent stage, and At The Drive-In send thousands of drenched bodies into a frenzy, one which clearly takes the band by surprise. Cedric Bixler-Zavala promises them they’ll be back very soon - he seems to really mean it - and with a new album in tow. No new material is played in the set, but the relentless energy the band transfer today sees them head to the studio with a whole lot of momentum.
Back out on the main stage, the weather’s calmed down a little, and while Matt Healy couldn’t fully be his exuberant self on stage, Dan Smith revels in the post-storm atmosphere, running and jumping everywhere possible. Poland loves Bastille, with even the staff at the main stage bar seen singing along. Dan tells the crowd to try and receive the new, unreleased songs from ‘Wild World’ as if they’ve heard them before, and they need no prompting at all, taking every word from his mouth as gospel in a quite stunning reaction. He dedicates ‘Overjoyed’ to the storm, and Bastille create one all of their own today.
Continuing the hop up and down Open’er’s cavernous airfield, Chvrches take to the tent stage, and proceed to barge through another set of a summer that they’re making theirs. Martin Doherty’s two-track cameo as frontman is a blistering highlight, with Lauren Mayberry apologising “on behalf of the rest of the United Kingdom” for the recent referendum result. ‘Clearest Blue’ and ‘The Mother We Share’ is a pummelling exit, and the love between Chvrches and Europe is clearly shared equally.
A politically-charged evening then continues, surprisingly, with Pharrell Williams’ headline set. “I feel like we’ve forgotten to have fun. Maybe this will make the news, instead of something bad,” he comments, and the whole set is indeed hugely fun. There’s interludes of tracks Pharrell has guested on or produced - snippets of Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Alright’ and ‘Hot In Herre’ by Nelly are played - and his dancers even get their own section, performing ‘Milkshake’ by Kelis and Gwen Stefani’s ‘Hollaback Girl’. By the time ‘Get Lucky’ is rolled out towards the set’s finale, it could feel like Pharrell is scraping the barrel of everything at his disposal, no matter how tenuous the link to himself. As he says, though, the plan for tonight is to have fun, and it’s universally achieved.
As closing sets for a festival go, Pharrell’s takes some beating for hands-in-the-air euphoria, but Grimes does her very best to incite the same chaos over in the tent. Moments into opener ‘REALITi’, the whole place is jumping, right to the back, and the pace doesn’t let up. ‘Flesh Without Blood’ and ‘Oblivion’ are bass-heavy and brutal, with ‘Kill v Maim’ the perfect final barrage of noise on a day where everyone just needed to dance. The final day of Open’er 2016 began sodden, downbeat and even bordering on scary, but come its conclusion, the Poles and the acts they adore turned it around.
Photos: Emma Swann