Flow Festival 2012
Nathan Westley heads over to Helsinki for one hell of a time
Now in its 9th year, Flow has firmly established itself as being one of Scandinavia’s finest music festivals. Taking place in the thriving Finnish city of Helsinki, this urban based festival attracted a total of 63,000 visitors to the site to experience sets by a wonderfully eclectic line up of household names and locally bred talent. Although hit by the unfortunate withdrawl of both Frank Ocean and Bobby Womack – the festival was not willing to adopt a defeatist attitude.
The festival flung into full on action mode on the Friday when current hip-hop darling A$AP Rocky took to the Nokia Blue Tent, the festivals second stage. Having built up a solid reputation through a series of well received mix tapes; his performance today alongside a hype man and a DJ saw him easily sail through a set that included such songs as ‘Peso’, ‘Purple Swag’ and forthcoming single ‘Goldie’ to a highly receptive audience.
The withdrawl of Nu-soul crooner Frank Ocean saw the pop leaning producers behind Miike Snow bumped from the second stage to main stage main support and it was a move which did not see them look or sound out of depth. The radio friendly synth heavy sounds of ‘Black & Blue’ and ‘Animal’ are arched like an Eighties obsessed version of The Killers covering MGMT with NIN’s Trent Reznor guiding them through. It was headliner and sultry singer songwriter Lykke Li who delivered the most ear grabbing performances of the day. Having split people over how her name should be pronounced and an argument that is sure to live on far into the future, hers was a performance that sauntered through the stylish pop of ‘I’m Good, I’m Gone’ and many more from her two albums.
Saturday saw the good times continue with an array of acts venture onto the ex-powerstation site. The afternoon beginning with the appearance of the native Dumari & Spuget on the festivals main stage; this veteran act having a gravelly blues touched classic rock edge to them that sometimes borders on Tom Waits' more straightforward moments. The day also saw the hotly tipped Kindness venture out to make his first ever appearance in the country; laying down a poppy funk edged set that swerved between songs from his recently released debut album ‘World, You Need a Change Of Mind’.
Yet it was Saturdays headline set by the hard rocking duo The Black Keys proved a memorable highlight for those with an affliction for riffs with a strong and reliable set of hard hitting classic rock that should see them become regular festival headliners across Europe for the next few years.
Sunday saw the festival take a political swing as both hip Brooklyn pop band Friends and the delicate tones of singer songwriter Feist both displayed their support for the jailed punk band Pussy Riot. Friends high energy Blondie touched infectious pop doing enough to persuade the audience to loosen up and dance along to such song as ‘Friends Crush’ and ‘Mind Control’.
This same band also received a song dedication form the Sunday night headliner; the festival culminated with Icelandic legend Bjork presenting her Biophilia concept to a captivated audience who had been seduced by the dulcet tones and backtracks through her past material such as Isobel, Joga and Declare Independence. With a splattering of local based talent such as nineties looking riot grrl’s The Splits, the occasionally funky Pepe Deluxe and the indie vibes of French Films also on offer; it is easy to assume that many in the city will already be eagerly awaiting next year’s vital instalment.
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