Flow is the perfect name for the Finland’s premier music festival. It suggests relaxation, unhindered movement and gentle boundary pushing, all encapsulated in one small word. And that is the quintessence of Flow really; which last year proved to be this writer’s favourite smaller scale music and arts festival by a country mile.
It’s a well maintained and relatively condensed site is easily accessible from the centre of Helsinki by public transport, bike or even by foot. The line up is seriously eclectic (an overused but pertinent adjective in this case) which showcases international artists alongside local Finnish talent, of which there is a staggering amount. And this year’s offering looks set to further raise the bar: which will be no mean feat.
The Finns are unfailingly courteous and enthusiastic in greeting visitors to a festival they’ve every right to be proud of. But the hospitality on offer extends miles farther than the music and the people. The food here is heads and shoulders above other festivals with a focus on high end, organic, local produce. This year a notable group of restaurants and café’s from Helsinki will be featured on site. There’s also a distinct environmentally friendly air with recycling depots everywhere. In other words it’s actually sustainable; which shouldn’t be revelatory yet is.
There are also film screenings, visual art exhibitions and a plethora of non-music events taking place at the historic Suvilahti former power plant site. With stages scattered across tents, small venues and open spaces, Flow is a veritable cultural theme park. Set against a skyline dominated by industrial artists studios and imposing gas cylinders, at night when the myriad lights come on it’s a fairytale come true.
In terms of performances, his years big guns from the US include: the irrepressible OutKast, Janelle Monae, mix tape rap prince Joey Bada$$, the melancholic beauty of Bill Callahan and the emotional indie rock of The National. An exciting new announcement is that the elusive post-rock magicians Slint will also be performing.
Slowdive, Jungle, Jamie xx, The Horrors, Jon Hopkins, James Holden and FKA Twigs are only part of the impressive UK contingent. Covering every conceivable genre, the Finns are represented by Risto, Magenta Skycode, Siinai, Noah Kin and Tuomo amongst many others.
For more information on line up, travel and tickets: http://www.flowfestival.com/en/
Flow Festival takes place in Helsinki, Finland between August 8th - 10th.
Words: Anna Wilson