Music brings people together in many ways. You’ll make new friends at your favorite band’s show; you’ll be tired with strangers, waiting for the new release; you are able to share the excitement when once your favorite spotlight band suddenly has a worthy take off. Add summer, tens of thousands of music-lovers, travelling and experience of the year to this mixture – and you may get a glimpse to what Flow Festival of 2018 was. Held in Helsinki, Finland, it has certainly become one of the most anticipated music melting pots of Scandinavia.
There is no chance that people haven’t heard of it. If you don’t recognize the name of the festival itself, you are sure to know the artists that performed throughout 10th to 12th of August at Suvilahti former power plant. Just to name few big ones: Kendrick Lamar, Arctic Monkeys, Patti Smith, Fleet Foxes, Alma… But hold on – it was definitely not just this. Not a place where everyone play a couple of songs and be done with it. Oh no, far from that!
Flow Festival has very clever and creative organizing team. Festival area was a walk away from Helsinki central, having industrial and sort of nostalgic view. The area is like a mini-festival city that you have everything from ice cream parlours to Michelin star Grön, a pop-up cinema and many more! It was divided into areas so well, that you could not hear or be bothered by beats from other stages. And stages! 2018 featured huge open Main Stage, magnificent 360° Balloon Stage, several other tents with all kind of music – that were absolutely brilliantly styled in accordance with design – and smaller yard-spots where the party went on and on constantly throughout the long weekend. Plus there were amazing curated art all around the festival area, and neat seating areas to enjoy sustainable, fairly healthy and absolutely delicious meals.
Friday kicked off with several Finnish artists, such as Kardemimmit, Paperi T, IBE and more. Fleet Foxes took the main stage by storm after them, while Finns and other mostly Nordic people showed how lively and excited they can get, despite being described as shy or cold rather often.
Even though the performances were not too long – mainly up to an hour with an exception of the really big names – Sigrid from Norway for example left us all with the feeling that this was purely her powerful solo show. Patti Smith did not disappoint, nor did Alma. As you can see – even though most of the festival goers were indeed younger, there was something for everyone. And to be quite honest, I did not notice people’s ages when looking around or having a short rest – I noticed their confidence and happiness, genuine joy and amazing styles. As vintage is in and 80s and 90s coming back, the fashion displayed by the people was absolutely inspirational.
Actually Friday also brought us little rain, we were blessed with unusually great and warm weather. As soon as Flow opened its gates on Saturday, people were rushing to grab some food or – in some cases – grab a spot right at the stage. Second day gave us Arctic Monkeys in the evening and there were so many dedicated people coming just for them. When it was time to leave, however, they walked away with knowledge of just how much amazing artists there are that they discovered or found again thanks to spending just the day in the hustle.
One of the huge pros of Flow Festival was their app. It had perfectly simple way to schedule your day around the artists you wanted to see. I personally decided to be at the venue early and check out even the musicians who I hadn’t heard before. I discovered fantastical Mio, learned to love Lake Jons unique indie, decided that Lxandra‘s voice belonged to a goddess and of course ate way too much but not nearly enough. I got back the feeling of listening the music just because I love it and I did, indeed, went with the Flow when Arctic Monkeys finally came on.
Sunday – funday. This has never been truer to another Sunday of the summer. For once, underage people and even the smallest ones, were able to enjoy a bit of the festival, as it was family day. There were activities for kids and it was truly wonderful to see so many families walking around, sharing this fantastic part with their children already from so early.
The stages were full to the absolute capacity, and it was fantastic to see. Storm wanted to join in, startling Yona & Lumos during their performance with loud bangs of thunder, but I guess the people’s positivity was strong enough to keep the truly catastrophic weather at the bay.
It was almost impossible to believe how many great artists were brought together for all those days, finishing Sunday with one of my absolute favourites, amazing Lykke Li, and of course Kendrick Lamar.
As with every music event – it felt too short, it felt over too soon and of course, it was the perfect hurrah to the current life, this time: celebrating summer.
When talking about travelling the world for music, one may think it is the fans. But it is also travelling the world for the artists, for the teams, press, volunteers. Just for everyone. And that is what makes it so special.
What should you take away from this? The good and the bad? Well, I will let you in a little secret and let’s start with the good.
Music festivals can be sustainable, green, safe and focusing on providing the best time to everyone around. Flow also gave each person a new perspective on something, a new artist or song to listen to, a new idea or goal to aim for. It brought us together and made us share the happiness.
And the bad? I do have a complaint, to be quite honest. If there are so many absolutely brilliant artists, how am I supposed to pick, which one to listen to when they play at the same time?
PS! Early bird tickers for next year are on sale now. If possible, I strongly advise you to get it!