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Flow Festival enjoys best ever turnout

The three days of the urban Flow Festival this weekend in Suvilahti, Helsinki gathered a record-breaking 75,000 people.
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The three days of the urban Flow Festival this weekend in Suvilahti, Helsinki gathered a record-breaking 75,000 people. Flow Festival gathered friends of music, food and art together to the old factory area in Suvilahti, Helsinki. The weekend witnessed over 100 acts at a total of 11 venues. In addition to the cutting-edge music program, Flow received thanks again for its varied quality food offering, and the art around the grounds.

Jamie xx closing the first day

The 13th Flow Festival started on 12th August Friday afternoon with the Flow Talks discussions organised by Flow and think-tank Demos Helsinki. Discussion themes revolved around developing urban life with the talks gathering approximately 300 people to listen and participate. From there the festival evening continued with quality music, films and food.

On Friday the audience was introduced to completely new venues. The Riviera Cinema Bar lived up to its name with its fusion of cinema and bar, and gathered a good crowd on its debut night for the Freaky Friday theme. The Zalando Factory in the old factory building was also received enthusiastically, for instance when producer talent Mura Masa attracted a full crowd into the space. The Lapin Kulta Red Arena was introduced in place of the familiar Blue Tent, and the new venue has the capacity equivalent to the Main Stage. One of the highlights of the new tent was the Jamie xx, the British star of contemporary electronic music, and another was prolific U.S.-based rapper and messenger of positivity Lil’ B.

All in all the musical talent on show during Friday was impressive. It included both legends and acts at the peak of their careers right now. The Main Stage had been expanded to accommodate more people, who witnessed e.g. the pioneer of punk and grunge, Iggy Pop, who left no one in doubt that he is still rocking it live. Another of the many Main Stage highlights was Massive Attack performing together with the Scottish Young Fathers in a show that was strong on visuals and societal themes. The Black Tent catered to fans of hip-hop with rapidly rising grime artist Stormzy, and the local greats Eevil Stöö and Kingfish taking the stage.

The intimate Bright Balloon 360° was graced with the enchanting Ghanaian highlife talent Ata Kak, the three Yemenite sisters of A-WA combining Greek folk music, contemporary electronic music and Yemenite influences, and the amazing trio of percussionist Samuli Koskinen, violinist Pekka Kuusisto and rapper Paperi T.

The yard area of the Suvilahti factory site, Resident Advisor Backyard, and the Voimala venue were taken over by the top names of electronic dance music including Ben Klock, Roman Flügel, Helena Hauff and The Black Madonna. Highlights of The Other Sound focused on experimental music included Swedish singer and multi-instrumentalist Anna Von Hausswolff and the melancholy soundscapes of William Basinski, who hails from the U.S. As part of The Other Sound, the audience was treated to the performance Linda#faceinthemirror by visual artist Tero Puha and dancer Jyrki Haapala – the piece took place in the worlds of social media.

Ready for the second day

Flow Festival Saturday started in rainy weather but luckily the sky cleared in the afternoon. Highlights included the French dream pop group M83's musical journey to another dimension, the ever outspoken Morrissey with his outstanding, thought-provoking set and British sensation FKA twigs, who impressed the Main Stage audience with her fantastic, dance-filled show. Other much-expected acts that impressed the audience were The Last Shadow Puppets founded by Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner together with Miles Kane, and Scottish electro-pop band Chvrches.

Raising the atmosphere of the Black Tent was the disco collective from New York, Hercules & Love Affair, and Floating Points, who combines classical influences with jazz and contemporary electronica. The Ghanaian rhythms of Pat Thomas got the festival audience excited at the Bright Balloon 360° stage. Dedicated to electronic music, Voimala hosted dark techno to dance to with music from Oscar Mulero and the industrial beat master from Detroit, Jeff Mills.

The Other Sound program focused on experimental music, and introduced fresh gems all through Saturday including Holly Herndon, who explores the outer reaches of pop and electronic music. The program also had Draama-Helmi’s perform her over-sensitive and amusingly furious rapping as well as Finnish hardcore icon Läjä Äijälä’s garage-blues band The Sultans. NYKY Ensemble performed the lesser known compositions of minimalist Steve Reich.

Morrissey on stage

Sunday highlights included the Australian pop star Sia, who rarely performs live. Her show got under the skin of an emotional Flow audience. Anohni performed a touching and impressive concert to a mesmerised crowd in the Lapin Kulta Red Arena. The Main Stage audience got to loosen limbs in dance to the music of Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals. Getting the audience riled up in the Black Tent were U.S. punk veterans Descendents and one of the most “of the moment” beat makers Kaytranada. The Bright Balloon 360° Stage saw acts ranging from bass player virtuoso Thundercat to sax player Kamasi Washington.

On Sunday, the Resident Advisor Backyard featured DJ and producer John Talabot. The Barcelona-resident has found his niche in the area between the underground and bigger arenas. The traditional Family Sunday also found its place in the backyard earlier in the afternoon, attracting smaller festival guests with their parents.

Flow Festival is over! Kiitos!

In 2017 Flow Festival will be organised in Suvilahti, Helsinki 11–13, August.


The front cover photo belongs to Samuli Pentti.

Read here our reviews from Flow Festival 2014, Flow Festival 2015. and check photos from our Flow Festival 2016 experience.

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