Flow Festival Helsinki 2012
Photo by Mandy Wagner / Hokus Pokus

What a summer! We’ve been at several Festivals – like the SPOT FESTIVAL in Denmark, the DUNK FESTIVAL in Belgium, the OFF FESTIVAL in Poland, HALDERN POP, DOCKVILLE and Maifeld Derby in Germany. Last weekend we visited one of THE Scandinavian festivals: Flow Festival. One thing in advance: if you are into great music, nice people, partying, great food and a lot of bombast, this is the festival you should visit next year.

Wednesday – “What might have been lost.”

BON IVER at Flow Festival Helsinki
Photo by Mandy Wagner / Hokus Pokus

The festival got opened on Wednesday with a concert by Finnish singer-songwriter JOOSE KESKITALO & KOLMAS MAAILMANPALO and BON IVER. And without any doubt: BON IVER were definitely one of THE festival-highlights – even if they “only” opened the festival. Justin Vernon and his band proved that they are both a huge band that plays amazing music and a huge band that still kept their feet on the ground. Words just can’t describe the atmosphere of the concert. The show opened with the song Perth and a lot of bombast. And closed with beautiful tracks from their first album, For Emma, Forever Ago and a completely packed Blue Tent singing “What might have been lost”.
Could there be a better way to open a festival like this? We don’t think so. Nothing comes to my mind that could have been better than the things that happened at this Wednesday in Helsinki.
People were happy – about the concert, the atmosphere and about the fact that this was a great start. Maybe some were a bit sad, too. Why? Because they wished BON IVER would play even longer as they did. But what might have been lost would have been the magic of this evening.

Friday – “You’re my river running high, run deep, run wild.”

When the festival doors were opened on Friday we first checked out the entire festival area – what a lovely area! Hats off to the Flow Festival team! What they built up there is simply lovely, awesome and stunning. In the evening, when the sun set, everything became even more beautiful and fantastic because of all the lights…and because of drunken people…I mean REALLY drunken people. In fact: this was the most beautiful festival area I have ever seen – and I would love to go back there right now.

Some words about the topic “alcohol in Finland”: Alcohol is pretty expensive in Finland, also at the festival (7€ a beer, 6€ a shot of booze), so it seems that it is simply too expensive to just get tipsy. People drink or do not drink. When they decide to drink, they drink – let’s call it – effective. Or in other words: they drink until they can’t remember the next day what happened the day before. Pretty strange, since people are buying tickets and can’t remember what happened. However, of course not everyone acts like this, it was just something we recognized and thought about.

Photo by Mandy Wagner / Hokus Pokus

To the musical-part of the festival Friday: STOCKERS! opened at the Blue Tent (the same location BON IVER played two days before). A young indie-rock band who did a great show. Hopefully we’ll hear a lot more from them the next time. Then we checked out JUKKA POIKA on the main stage. He is one of THE Finnish acts right now and even if we are not into raggae music we checked it out or at least we gave it a try. It may be that it is because I am not into raggae music, maybe also because I don’t speak the Finnish language…probably it was both that denied me the access to JUKKA POIKA‘s music. But due to the fact that so many people danced and sang along to his songs it was – obviously – a great show. At the same time SUN ARAW played a great show at the Voimala stage – the experimental duo from California, USA took the listeners on a journey through dreamy atmospheres.

YANN TIERSEN at Flow Festival Helsinki
Photo by Mandy Wagner / Hokus Pokus

Later Swedish dreampoppers KORALLREVEN played an amazing set at the Black Tent. Don’t know what to say about the show they played. We just dreamed away. Simply beautiful. Afterwards we had a talk with Marcus and Daniel – the heads of KORALLREVEN. We talked about Samoa, escapism, dreamy music, the 80s and a lot more (read the entire interview here).
Next on the main stage one of our (Friday’s) favorite acts played: YANN TIERSEN. Most of you might know him for being the guy who wrote the ingenious soundtrack of movie Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain, but besides that the French musician wrote tons of other great songs. A great show by this genius and we are happy that we saw his show at Flow 2012. Only sad thing: obviously were many people not really interested in his great performance. Even when he took the violin and did magic on this difficult instrument, many people simply seemed not to be interested. We were impressed. A lot.

Photo by Mandy Wagner / Hokus Pokus

MIIKE SNOW‘s show was moved to the main stage the same day and – it might be that it was because of the setting sun during his show – but in our opinion this was one of THE concerts of the festival. Don’t know what we expected, but whatever it was MIIKE SNOW topped it. A lot. At the same time German electronic music act MONOLAKE played an amazing set at Voimala – where we also danced to a great dj-set by bass-driven electronic music mastermind ACTRESS later that night.

LYKKE LI at Flow Festival Helsinki
Photo by Mandy Wagner / Hokus Pokus

Headliner of Flow Festival’s Friday was LYKKE LI who played a pretty dark set and took the breath of thousands of people who where enjoying her show. Without any doubt an artist that truly the right one to headline a festival like this. Perfect headliner on a perfect Friday!
At the same time FOUR TET and CARIBOU where playing a great – but too short – dj-set at the Black Tent. For me it was a hard decision what show to check out. So I kind of hopped between these two shows.
We ran deep, we ran high!

Saturday – “To let myself go is the only way of being.”

After a nightly meal we left the party group before they were heading to one of Helsinki’s Karaoke bars. We’ve seen really many Karaoke bars in this beautiful city – seems Fins like Karaoke. But what they seem to like even more: their hair. I really never visited a city that had more hairdressers than Helsinki.

ANE BRUN at Flow Festival Helsinki
Photo by Mandy Wagner / Hokus Pokus

Our festival Saturday started with ANE BRUN at the Blue Tent, a concert that was amazing, just like the music of this wonderful Norwegian singer-songwriter. The tent was completely packed (like almost every location at almost every show) and ANE BRUN just bewitched everyone with her beautiful songs.
Next we moved our bodies to LINDSTRØM who made most of the people in the Black Tent dance with his funky electronic tunes. Next act in the same location was KINDNESS who we were looking forward to for days. I’m always a bit afraid of the concerts I am looking forward to, since these are often the ones that simply can’t be as good as the expectations I carry in me. However, KINDNESS blew me away. With a great set somewhere between dancefloor-madness, sympathy and musical specialties. Even the song I Got Five On It (originally from LUNIZ) and the Sister Act soundtrack got covered – this is what I call surprise. And people loved it.
What we also liked a lot was the enormous powerful show played by SWANS at the Blue Tent. It might have taken a bit time until people were into the show, but as soon as they were in there was no way back.
A sad point was that the Other Sounds location was often simply too full, so we couldn’t check out many acts there – like FENNESZ & LILLEVAN, but we heard that they played a great set.
Later we saw the amazing NICOLAS JAAR‘s live set – who was supported by a guitarist and a saxophonist and made the entire Blue Tent dance (at least: if the tent itself would have been able to dance, it would have done so).

HUORATRON at Flow Festival Helsinki

What we then experienced was probably the craziest thing ever. The sickest electronic music show I experienced. Ever. HUORATRON. I’m still trying to find the right words for this. “Madness” is a word that definitely is not strong enough for what this bald-headed and full-bearded guy brought to thousands of people in the Black Tent. People danced as hard as they could and each of them gave 200% to beat these tunes. Amazing. If you are into electronic music and someday have the chance to see HUORATRON live: do it! It’s a rave of biblical proportion!
Sadly at the same time we were lost in the madness THE BLACK KEYS were playing on the main stage. When we got out from the dancing-ground THE BLACK KEYS were almost over – but as we heard they did a great job.

Flow Festival Helsinki 2012
Photo by Mandy Wagner / Hokus Pokus

After all this we had a problem: the clock said it was 00:00 and we had three acts on our plan. Three great acts playing at the same time. CHROMATICS, SLEEP∞OVER and PINCH. Indie vs. dreampop vs. techtronic. We decided to see PINCH who played a great set of electronic music and made people completely freak out. At the same time CHROMATICS played THE show of the Saturday – at least this is what other people told us. Too bad that we weren’t able to split into 3.
All in all our Flow Festival’s saturday was pretty electronic and dancy, but as ANE BRUN sings “To let myself go is the only way of being” – that’s what we did, we let ourselves go.

Sunday – “I thought I could organize freedom.”

Flow Festival Helsinki 2012
Photo by Mandy Wagner / Hokus Pokus

The FLOW FESTIVAL Sunday was really chilled – maybe because of the hang-over we and many other people had. We checked out GOODIEPAL who brought exactly the tunes we needed that day. After that we checked out FRIENDS at the Black Tent. The American pop-band played a nice powerful show and made a most people dance. Obviously the band was overwhelmed by the FLOW audience and impressed with a very personal show.
Sadly we missed PEPE DELUXE‘s performance I would have loved to check out this show since I listened to these tunes a lot some years ago and I always think of very special times of my life when I only hear his name. You surely might know acts like this, too. And when you get the chance to see an act like this feelings are located somewhere between happiness, nostalgia and fear (of too much nostalgia). For some reason I didn’t make it to the show – neither because of fear nor because of having beein lost in too much happiness. It simply was the great weather, the great people I met and the great time we had all together that made me look at the time far too late. So I only was able to realize that I just missed a great act. Sorry, PEPE.
But what we actually checked out was the performance of THE WAR ON DRUGS who did a great job at the Blue Tent. Without any doubt a band that will go its way and make it big within the next years.

For the evening we had three acts on our plan that we were looking forward to for quite a while. FEIST, ST.VINCENT and BJÖRK. It may sound polyamoric but we literally love these three woman.

FEIST at Flow Festival Helsinki
Photo by Mandy Wagner / Hokus Pokus

First, FEIST – a great show by this great artist! Yes, it is country, at least in someway it is, but – or maybe even exactly because of that fact – it is great. The three background singer made me laugh now and then, but even they where perfect. Nothing to complain about this first highlight at this festival Sunday. A great thing to mention: FEIST had a real DIY-banner on stage that said “FREE PUSSY RIOT. She uses her weapon (the weapon to reach people) to spread critical thinking. Awesome!
Next act we saw is one I fell in love with about 13 or 14 years ago: BJÖRK. And what was that? We were standing there with mouths opened for about 1,5 hours. And I still try to find words about this concert, this show, this performance. Even if she didn’t play Army Of Me and Human Behaviour it was a absolutely perfect set. For people like me she could have played much longer, but in fact this was what I call perfection. A drummer, a guys behind the electronics, BJÖRK – as always in a strange dress and a dozen (literally!) of singers. Further more the perfect visualization of the show blew us and all the people we met completely away. BJÖRK, if you read this: thank you!
The last act at this festival weekend started to play when BJÖRK still played. So we only saw some songs of ST.VINCENT. Definitely a great show and without any doubt a great ending of a great last evening of one of the best festivals we’ve ever been at.

By the way: FLOW FESTIVAL was the cleanest festival we’ve ever been at. I was afraid that I would soil the streets with my shoes. There even were people who told me in which cans I have to throw my trash. We liked it a lot, even if it was a bit too strange at some points…from my perspective: dirt belongs to a festival – at least a little bit. Otherwise: the less dirt, the less problems. However, this was just something we recognized and talked about a lot. Fussy? Well…let’s call it perfectionism. And we loved it. Thank you FLOW FESTIVAL. Thank you Helsinki. Thank you Finland. See you next year!

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