Friday, 11 July 2014

Heineken Open'er festival: The Far Out Stance

Bustling with flocks of fellow pundits, the Gdynian festival opened it's doors on Tuesday to swells of avid European muso's. Now in it's 12th year, the 2014 edition of the Heineken Open'er festival has earned a reputation as a staple in the musical calendar as well as a beery affair. With early bird tickets to the four day shenanigans equating to around a modest £90, the festival comes at a snip of many traditional UK festi's and with a lineup ranging from Pearl Jam to Foals to 90s throwback Faith No More, well, you might as well nip over?
Far Out; swept along on the Tuesday morning arrived to the sparsely green former airstrip, pitching up to a questionable soundtrack of Estonian bred Mockney rap, with the backdrop of (subtlety put) interchangeable weather. 
Wednesday's night kicked off with alt-rock lords Interpol christening the Open'er stage for 2014, rousing the throngs to old favourites such as 'Say Hello to the Angels', addressing spectators with a dumbfounded 'SHIT!' charming them with signature ballads from times long before Far Out’s conception, lending to an feeling of distance.
Next we made our way to an ingeniously named Tent Stage to sample the glorious electro popping Metronomy. Ditching the white blazer formalities and adorning instead co-ordinating denim jackets, they administered a delectable measure of old and new stretching  the bands three albums, Love Letters to Radio Ladio, culminating in a stirring rendition of The Bay, monumentally foot-tappingly good, embellished with neon lights and evoking hearty hip swings. As my fellow Devonians shimmied their appreciation, the enjoyment was asserted as lead singer Joe declared the crowd 'absolutely wonderful', we were left blushing.
Next on Wednesdays agenda was The Black Keys. The duo, drenched in monochrome graphics flashing with lurid colours summoned tempestuous Blues Rock.  they nonchalantly blasted crowd pleasing Old School Rock, Wednesday headliners injecting a fresh performance to faces less so, with Preprassams' aplenty amongst smiling spectators. Haim’s gracing of the Tent Stages week after their Glastonbury performance left one with the taste of being somewhat second rate though still a triumphant and multifaceted performance, Este delivering characteristic bass-gun and dubbing us the ‘best fucking crowd’. Jamie xx concluded the evenings revelry, taking to the Beat Stage; almost reminiscent of a budget hall of mirrors with drapes of silver reflective ribbons clinging to the walls. With an aura of effortless cool, xx drops his own remix of ‘Sunset’, lovingly lapped up alongside new track ‘all under one house raving’ clinching the set as a resounding booty shaking success, despite Far Out wilting somewhat. 
Thursday’s second day shenanigans were tenderly opened by MGMT with a 7:00 slot . Warped and jaunty trip inducing graphics complemented the laid back display though a little prematurely psychedelic for well behaved observers. Smile evoking ‘Time to Pretend’ was a heady voyage through the absurdly addled realms of narcotised minds and splayed with harpsichord and synths, backdropped by the image of a scantily clad flexing blonde kaleidoscopically contorting through distinctly Yellow Submarine stylised images merged with pixelated digital birds. Hallucinogenic lullabies aplenty, ‘electric feel’ predictably threw arms and minds back to fond flashes of 2007. Before making a tactical dash to Jagwar Ma, ‘Kids’ saw formerly static collective thawing upon the removal of the lead singer Andrew VanWyngarden’s sunglasses and taking a leisurely stroll along the front row during leading to him acquiring a garishly coloured tie dye jumper that we slings merrily over his shoulder. Alt Stage victors Ma claimed it as their own, oozing Ozzie eccentricity from the electro-psych-indie trio, favouring ‘Man I Need’ ‘The Throw’ and ‘Come Save Me’ lovingly lapped up by a haze of dazed and happily glazed expressions. An exemplary performance and definitely one of Open’er 2014’s finest.
Pearl Jam soundtracked our eve of woozy hedonism as we stocked up on Heineken given the veritable cubic white palace embellished with the logo conveniently alongside the main stage though sadly forcing customers to a separate fenced district making the humble pint seeking brit feel a little like a raging alcoholic for merely seeking a simultaneous shimmy and sip. Glancing the hoards of giggling middle aged men Far Out made a hasty amble to the silent disco, located in an intensely atmospheric disused airplane hold (given the festival is held on a former airport) and was delightfully dingy mainstream interlude, the Black Eyes Peas wriggling down your cochlear providing a light relief from the gruelling looking PJ troupes congregating. After all, who can last four days without a shamefully shitty binge? Wince inducing Rudimental were swiftly avoided in favour of Maya Jane Coles who whilst relaying a dance safe set, failed to recreate the bliss of Jamie xx’s initial night.
Day three was ignited on the Open’er stage by the enticing equestrian ensemble Foals and saw a classic single spanning setlist of ‘My Number’ ‘Blue Blood’ and no frills, evocative simplicity was the order of the day for a naturally harrowing rendition of Spanish Sahara; producing the curious effect of half the crowd sitting down mid-mosh cross legged, much to the confusion of the remaining half. ‘Inhaler’ erupted in a fist swingingly raw Math Rock riot before a predictable concluding ‘Two Steps, Twice’ saw the infamous solo stroll, nevertheless not failing to produce a satisfying finale of Oxford intricacies, crowd pleasing, though with an element of the formulaic. 
Wild Beats next toasted a hearty looking glass of Red to expectant onlookers who they quickly deemed ‘FIT’ with vocals from Tom Fleming annoyingly reminiscent of Dry the River, the new material shone through with the initial ‘Mecca’ and Jools favoured ‘Simple Beautiful Truth’.
Gliding past the whirl of stripy Polish enigma that was ‘Mela Kotelek’ whilst stocking up on the eve’s liquid fuel, Far Out wandered adamantly over to Friday’s headliner, the hugely anticipated Jack White.
After the pretentious move of the pre-gig ‘no images to be taken it detracts from the performance yada yada’, one is left a little with a somewhat bitter taste and the feeling of daylight robbery of a deserved Instagram post, but hey, it’s Jack fucking White. He does what he wants. 
‘High Ball Stepper’ was a superlative opener and saw White brandishing a rather questionable white hat, though in fitting with the look of recent album ‘Lazaretto’. ‘Hotel Yorba’ and ‘You Don’t Know What Love Is’ played an important reminder of reminding revellers of White’s exceptional career involving himself in The Raconteurs (‘Steady as She Goes’) and current solo work. ‘I Can Tell That We Are Gonna Be Friends’ is a sweet and amorous acoustic number that sees a Meg doppleganger assist on vocals. Despite White’s apologies for his poor vocal quality given his recent run of dates he delivers an almighty, phenomenal rendition of ‘Icky Thump’ brazen with the sticky, seductive unapologetic Rock of ’07’s Stripes. 
White concludes thanking God, Lykke Li, Pearl Jam and (amusingly/awkwardly) The Black Keys who appeared two days before on the same bill. Proceeding the recent controversy of leaked emails between White and his former wife, he appears courteous, alluding to his recent divorce with ‘My mother says not to come home unless I have a Polish wife!’.
Fleeing still in a fog of fondly prepubescent anthems, Far Out made a hasty dash to the Tent Stage for the much hyped BANKS. Majestic and sultry, the LA vocalist growls over thudding electro, praising the art of catharsis in ‘I want everyone to feel like a goddess’ preceding the track ‘Goddess’ as she empoweringly flits over the stage. 
Friday night is finally closed with Lykke Li on the Open’er Stage, the notoriously melancholic Swede, swathed in a silver bat wing number. ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’ and ‘Little Bit’ help to break up the bleak heartbreak depression of Li’s set, even strangely interspersing the beginning to ‘Drunk In Love’ between songs to stimulate a slow dance. A bleak spectrum, Li’s stage was hung with translucent grey drapes and a somewhat fatigued crowd merrily obliged to ‘No Rest for the Wicked’ welcoming the heartbreak hymns and mourning melodies of failed romantic endeavours. ‘Get Some’ was a triumphant finish, though marred by the couple alongside Far Out who wholly misjudged the song’s intent, choosing to repeatedly lock lips in the least romantic gesture since the dawning of time on the line ‘I’m your prostitute, you gon’ get some’.
The fourth and final day of the four day festival saw The Horrors claiming the Open’er Stage, a jolly looking Farris sporting a stripy T-shirt and characteristic black jeans, as parodied by the Mighty Boosh, it was nice to see that despite the addition of recent 80s influenced ‘Luminous’ tracks, some things never change. Stand out ‘Sea Within a Sea’ and the penultimate belter ‘Still Life’ defined the experience, a tirelessly euphoric and uplifting track that may have done better to conclude the set. Void of the punk-ish brashness of first album ‘Strange House’ it clearly defined the constant progressive, evolving nature of the elusive band.
Glancing only the first few minutes of the Saturday headliners ‘Faith No More’ (who bedecked the stage in all white and potted plants) in favour of Daughter on the Tent Stage for a foreseeably emotive and delicate state of affairs from Elena Tonra, lighters in the air, handkerchiefs on standby.
The real anticipation however was for Warpaint who put on the most emancipating, triumphant spectacle of unapologetic female ferocity from the all girl troupe, hailed on tumblr as iconic (see ‘’). Moody, captivating and tenaciously, murkily, fightingly punk, despite technical hiccups that resulted in the mid play re-start of opening song ‘Keep it Healthy’, submerged in teals and reds. The new album is disparate from the subtle acoustic delicacy of the first’s ‘Billie Holiday’. Instead, ‘Love is To Die’ and ‘Disco//Very’ shone through, the latter seeing guitarist Emily Kokal take a lengthy gander into the swarms before an encore of ‘No Way Out’ and ‘Elephants’.
Giving Phoenix a wiggle to final track ‘Entertainment’, the French squad lifted the spirits of the fourth night with a nutritious little dose of Indie-Pop that merged into the last act Julio Bashmore on the Beat Stage. We danced, then fled into the night after the final ‘oh baby’ of ‘Au Seve’.


  • It’s a real smorgasbord of talent with a long standing history of bagging some big old headliners. There’s art installations and more eateries than you can shake a stick at on site as well as a theatre and a runway in the Fashion Stage. Prepare yourself for some exceptionally suave looking contemporaries.
  • Impeccably polite and accommodating locals. The security guards even zipped our bags back up after ransacking them for contraband. Adorable.
  • Don’t cast yourself as the classic ignorant tourist. Go the extra mile and learn some Polish.
  • For the love of god, bring water with you. 80p for half a litre is definitely not ok, particularly when it’s 6AM and you’re feeling a little worse for wear.
  • On a health basis this is probably not going to be your finest hour. Beautifully cheap vodka and cigarettes are easily sourced, at the consumer’s peril.
  • Hot showers, like, every day. That’s all I need to say.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Blaenavon, Prague Track Review for Far Out Magazine

Comprising of Ben Gregory, Frank White and Harris McMillan all a tender 19, Blaenavon categorise themselves as ‘ghost jazz’ group, which certainly rings true with an near morbid tone on track ‘Prague’. ‘They’ll steal you soul and turn the men to gold’ Gregory solemnly assures you, delivering lines that depict ‘blood red skies’ though lulled with dulcet vocals.

A band emerging as part of the seemingly swelling Brighton music scene, Blaenavon command stirring lyricism alongside melodies forged by the generation influenced by the The Maccabees and Bombay Bicycle Club. ‘Prague’ is plucked from the polished KOSPO EP put out last year on transgressive recordings and is a golden, swelling anthem brushed with an air of sadness. Angst driven, Prague paints almost a dysptopian lyrical landscape and upholding musical simplicity to a commanding effect, bubbling to a fierce climax at 4:20.

The three piece are scheduled this summer for Warlingham based ‘Leefest’ as well as the the ‘Iceland Airwaves’ festival and a one off date at ‘Le Travendo’ in Paris in late July.

And as they so charmingly proclaim, Blaenavon do indeed prove to be ‘3 boys with a story to tell’, with ‘Prague’ asserting this first chapter as one not to skim over.

Open'er Festival preview for Far Out Magazine

Starting today, Gdynia’s own ‘Open’er’ festival is a polished Polish gem and a penny pleasing Glasto alternative for pleasure seeking, financially savvy Brits.

Set on Kosakowo Airport, Open’er boasts six stages and is a four day pledge of ferocious musical energy with the allure of (equally?) satisyingly cheap beers. This years lineup presents an array of potential headliners in their own right with Foals, The Horrors, Jack White, Metronomy, The Black Keys, Pearl Jam and Warpaint, spanning the genres with the likes of Jamie xx, Julio Bashmore and Mary Jane Coles taking to the Beat Stage.

Open’er presents a plethora of best UK and US Indie/Alternative artists whilst simultaneously showcasing the best of the Polish music scene with artists such as Król and Pablopavo i Ludziki sharing stages with the quintesentially British Ben Howard.

A lynchpin of the emerging European festivals scene and putting many back home to shame, Open’er 2014 sets expectations suitably high.

You can expect a comprehensive review of Poland’s prime beersmusical party in the coming days. Eyes peeled.