If there’s one Finnish festival everyone should check out it’s Helsinki’s Flow Festival (August 14-16 2015). Since it first kicked off in 2004, Flow has established itself as Finland’s premier event for eclectic music styles, usually booking many of the most fascinating alternative, indie, electronic, rap, hip hop and R’n’B acts from around the world. This year’s lineup headlines acts du jour such as Alt-J, The War on Drugs, Future Island, MajorLazer while the art-pop elite is represented by Beck and Pet Shop Boys. Easy to get to, with awesome food and ambiance, this artful orgy of hipness has everything the enthusiastic festival-goer needs. So, with all this awesomeness on offer how do you make sure your Flow Festival 2015 rocks? Here are our top 10 tips.
1. Record and share your festival experience
Flow Festival is about trying new things so if you’re into recording your life in a wonderfully creative new way, you should check out a fantastic new short-movie making app from Helsinki-based LUUP. The freshly released service makes it super simple to shoot beautiful four-scene HD video footage in seconds. What’s more, the apps lets you add background music from a growing library of licensed tunes. Your little movie then seamlessly loops creating a wonderfully atmospheric recording for you to share. Your Flow experience is better shared, so download LUUP and share those magic movie moments with the world.
2. Get in tune with the music beforehand
You don’t have to listen through every weird Soundcloud link posted on Pitchfork for a year to know what’s good at Flow Festival. The hard-working curators of Flow Festival do all the work for you. Their Spotify playlist showcases the best work of the acts playing at the Festival. It’s worth building a sense of what’s available. Knowing the quality of Flow Festival, chances are you’ll find something you love in addition to the headliners whose names you recognize.
3. Pay special attention to the locals
The Finnish music scene hasn’t yet grown as supermassive as its Swedish neighbours. Nonetheless, Finnish music offers a lot, especially if you like styles a bit outside the mainstream. This year’s Flow festival features a number of Finnish acts worth checking out:
LCDMF is a seemingly unstoppable vortex of compulsive art school cool and soul-searching Berlin-Helsinki commutes. The sister duo’s catchy repertoire is an ongoing transition between what’s new and/or interesting, spanning guitar pop to intense, up to date electronic sounds. This old live clip serves as seal of approval of LCMDF’s on-stage attitude.
At Ink tank we pride ourselves on our writing, but we just can’t beat Flow Festival’s description: “KXP generates cosmic energy and creates a musical vortex of rock’n’roll shamanism, glam-punk wildness, kraut-tronica, and spiritual ambient techno. The resulting singularity is nothing if not galactic.” Live-worthiness is confirmed in this clip.
A decade ago, Regina introduced the world to Iisa Pykäri’s dreamy voice that crosses language barriers with ease. Add husband Mikko’s electropop soundscapes that morphed into soft shoegazy guitar, and you have something worth celebrating with the band’s exclusive anniversary gig at Flow this year. On stage, Regina preserves all the airiness and crispness you could wish for.
4. Download the app or make a manual personal lineup
Do you manically run between stages to counter scheduling collisions the best you can? Or do you try to experience the feeling of every hand picked gig in its entirety? Whatever the answer, be sure to try out the Flow Festival app, which is released a couple of days before the start. It lets you visualize which artists are playing when and where and gives you notifications. If you’re worried you’ll run out of battery in your smartphone, you can always make a list of gigs to check out beforehand. The festival’s web site also allows you to create, edit and print your personal lineup.
5. Bring serious cash for awesome food
Eat. This one sounds obvious to any seasoned festival attendant. But keep in mind that Flow Festival has become an epicenter of a budding street food culture in Helsinki. Helsinki is no Berlin, but it doesn’t need to be, at least during Flow. Most interesting food entrepreneurs in Helsinki have food stands at Flow and you might find yourself drawn to trying out at least two meals a day.
Keen observers might have noticed this thanks to the epic International Restaurant Day event spawned from the imaginations of the city’s informal clique of cultural workers. Are you a student or someone else who’s been on the receiving end of a seemingly never-ending economical sinkhole? Even if you’re cash strapped and planning to stay alive on say protein bars or newfangled stuff like Soylent, it might be worth pinching from your food budget for the rest of the month. Been there, done that.
6. Prepare for Finnish summer
The summer of 2014 and with it, the Flow Festival of that year will be remembered for its tropical undertones. If you can call being soaked in sweat an “undertone”. Either way, what’s common in central Europe in terms of summer weather is far from the usual in Finland. In Finland, you should come prepared for chilly, windy weather for all occasions, all year round. Even if you live somewhere in the Nordics, you might be surprised by the how much shoreside Helsinki can differ from an inland climate on a windy summers day.
And while we’re at it, if you’re the outdoorsy or sailing type and the forecasts warn of rain, why not bring that Goretex apparel with you? It certainly beats the plastic raincoats you can buy at the festival. That being said, let’s hope the mid-August Flow weekend brings us some of the warm weather June and July have denied us this year.
7. Be sure to use public transport
After the firm warning about the weather, let’s point out one of the best things about Flow Festival. It’s in a dense urban area! Rather than the wet, muddy fields often associated with festivals, Flow is arranged at Suvilahti, a beautiful area by a retired power plant. This means that, in addition to transportation, you’ll have all the conveniences of the neighboring Kallio neighborhoods at your disposal
However, you don’t want to come anywhere close to the festival by car. Rather, use the public transit or a bike. You can store the bike at the Festival’s magnificent bike parking area. It sure gets a bit crowded after the Festival closes for the night. But having lived a few blocks away from the Festival for years, I’ve found Flow to be an amazing example of how smoothly tens of thousands of people can disappear into urban infrastructure without a trace.
8. Fix accommodation with the locals
Personally, I hate camping. If you’re like me and felt too old for festivals at 25, it might have been because of the assumed crappy logistics. Seriously, no more tents. Ever. If you’re from out of town, a festival in an urban area lets you book convenient lodging if you’re in time. If you’re on a budget, try Couchsurfing or Airbnb as close to the festival as possible.
9. Learn something new at Flow Talks
If you’re in town with nothing to do and the weather for Friday turns out fine, registering for Flow Talks is a great way to get into the festival area early and learning something at the same time. This year, the talks focus on urban planning and culture. Keynote speeches are delivered in English by veteran urban planners from around Europe. Once you’re inside the area on Friday, you might just have loads to of time to explore the festival in its entirety when the rest of the horde is just lining up at the gates..
10. Enjoy the space
As mentioned before, the festival is at a classy looking old industrial site. During the festival, take some time to inspect the art exhibitions, which includes a variety of modern styles and mediums from contemporary artists. This year, the art includes everything from paitings to video and audio to interactive software that manipulates video in real time.
So, there you have, our ten top tips learned from ten years of Flow Festival fun. If you have any others let us know in the comments below.