Flow Festival, Helsinki, 11-15 August
2010, tickets €58-102 + booking fees

HELSINKI’S Flow Festival will take place this year for the seventh year running. Originally held at the classic (and now barbarously demolished) venue of VR-Makasiinit in 2004, the event moved to the historic Suvilahti power plant area in 2007, where it has remained ever since. Taking full advantage of the location’s centrality – being just a short walk from Hakaniemi and Sörnäinen and a mere five minute metro ride from the central railway station – Flow has gone from strength to strength, attracting not only ever-growing crowds but an impressively eclectic array of musicians. The festival has grown each year. In 2004 the capacity was a mere 4,500. Last year 41,000 attended over four days, and this year the organisers are expecting up to 45,000 guests over the festival period.

The main festival takes place from 13-15 August. An opening party is held on Wednesday 11 August starring America’s LCD Soundsystem. For the three days of the main festival attendees will be treated to a truly notable selection of artists. Particularly well-known acts include Air, Jimi Tenor, Robyn, The xx, Tes La Rok, and Four Tet. While there are plenty of international acts, the Finnish music scene is particularly well-represented.

“The festival’s musical scope has broadened over the years, but the central nexus of operation remains: we want to book acts we would like to see live in Finland ourselves, and also to bring out the best fresh talent in the Finnish scene,” says Matti Nives, the festival’s press officer. “In terms of programming, Flow Festival is a coherent package. That is, we don’t rely so much on well-known household names but aim at presenting an interesting line-up which we hope people will take on, even if they wouldn’t know all the performers beforehand. Essentially, Flow Festival is an opportunity for musical discovery, and we’re lucky to have an audience that appreciates this.”

As with many festivals, the main problem is choosing which acts to check out. “There’s just too many to mention,” says Nives, “ although Mulatu Astatke would be my #1 pick out of any line up, The xx are just plain awesome, Omar Souleyman is a strong candidate for the biggest surprise hit, M.I.A should be very interesting live, and Ricardo Villalobos is a personal favourite on the club side of things. The Voimala concert series looks great with Ballake Sissoko, Owen Pallett and Ulver, the best of contemporary jazz is there with Ricky-Tick Big Band and Timo Lassy w/ José James, good things are bubbling under like Awesome Tapes of Africa and Didier’s Sound Spectrum DJ sets, then there are Broken Bells, Vladislav Delay...” Alternatively, you can find a nice spot in a bar and just soak up the atmosphere.

Nick Barlow