Viper’s first trip to Poland was reserved for a super special event, Open’er festival in the port town of Gdynia. Boasting performances from Pharrell Williams, Wiz Khalifa, Vince Staples, Skepta, Section Boyz and more, the setting; a former airport runway, simply added to the atmosphere, as thousands of music lovers descended on Open’er for four days of incredible music.
Sadly we arrived too late to see Skepta or Section Boyz, but on our first day at the festival, we were treated to an impressive set from Wiz Khalifa, who ran through a string of classic songs, including his biggest hits ‘Black & Yellow’, ‘See You Again’ and ‘We Dem Boyz’, plus recent releases such as ‘Pull Up’ featuring Lil Uzi Vert. The packed crowd were treated to a couple of stoner props toward the end of the set when two giant inflatable doobies were thrown into the audience and floated across the heads of Wiz’s fans.
Personal highlights on Friday also included a high energy performance from former Viper cover star, Vince Staples, who performed songs from ‘Summertime 06’, exactly one year since the album’s release. Performing on the eve of his 23rd birthday, there was another celebration taking place and the crowd, already aware of his birthday, began singing Happy Birthday in Polish, a song that includes the lyrics, “we wish you live for 100 years.” Commenting on the crowd’s performance, Vince told Viper, “that’s crazy.” We caught up with the Long Beach rapper backstage to catch up on the last 12 months, you can listen to the interview on Lily Mercer’s Rinse FM show at 1am BST this Sunday on rinse.fm/player or 106.8 FM on your radio dial.
The overall vibe of the festival was lively with discreet spots to chill throughout the day. H&M offered a treehouse option with swinging chairs and a paddling pool to cool down in as temperatures climbed. The food was also great, with a variety of Polish delicacies being sampled heavily by those visiting the country for the first time. With Viper’s team fitting into this category of Open’er’s visitors, it’s safe to say that we’ll be returning to the country and the festival in future.
The final day of the festival came with extreme weather warnings as Poland’s first ever hurricane threatened to ruin the final performances. Things held off during The 1975’s set but the torrential downpour that followed caused only a slight blip in the schedule, as music lovers huddled together in the rain awaiting Bastille’s appearance on the main stage. It was worth the wait as they performed their own rendition of TLC’s ‘No Scrubs’. On other stages, Polish bands and DJs provided foreign visitors with a taste of the country’s music scene. This was a real strength of the line up at Open’er festival, as organisers incorporated a great mix of local and international music for a crowd that was majority Polish.
Pharrell Williams stole the show on closing night with a performance that fans, old and new, could enjoy. Beginning with a couple of recent hits, he swerved into a medley of classic hip hop songs he’s produced, from Nore’s ‘Nothin’’ to Snoop Dogg’s ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’ before bringing out his N.E.R.D. collaborator Shae Harley for a series of songs from their debut album ‘In Search Of’, including ‘Provider’, ‘Bobby James’ and ‘Brain’ plus hits ‘Lapdance’ and ‘Rock Star’.
At this point we totally lost our shit, because N.E.R.D. shows are as rare as unicorns and narwhals, and Pharrell had slyly provided us with two thirds of the iconic rap/rock group, which was in essence, a mini-concert. As if that wasn’t insane enough, they followed up with their later tracks ‘Everyone Nose (All the Girls Standing In the Line for the Bathroom)’ and ‘She Wants To Move’. At this point, Pharrell and Shae brought a gang of Polish girls on stage, who took turns to grind on Pharrell’s thigh. Before leaving the stage, one girl leaned close and whispered in his ear, to which he replied, “Thank you, you’re my inspiration.”
As the final headliner at Open’er, his set was followed by fireworks, bringing the 2016 festival to a close. The display went on for several minutes, accompanied by a mix of songs by previous headliners at the festival. As the fireworks came to a climax, three Prince songs were played in honour of the legendary musician who passed away earlier this year. The perfect end to a perfect weekend in Poland.
Check out photos from the festival in the gallery above and get more info on Open’er Festival via the website.