Festival Report Card

Festival Report Card: Flow Festival 2023

Flow Festival is one of (if not the most) celebrated festivals in Helsinki, Finland, and this past weekend, August 11-13, EDM Maniac found out why.

Beyond the stellar lineup of heavyweights like Lorde, Blur, Kaytranada, and Wizkid, this festival welcomes visitors from around the world into the industrial charm of the Finnish capital.

Not only does its venue, an old factory called Suvilahti, represent the visual aesthetic of the city but every inch of the event is curated down to the finest detail to represent its home country.

Check out our Festival Report Card below:

Photo: Konstantin Kondrukhov / Flow festival

Vibes: B+

The only reason this grade is not a full-on “A” is that we weren’t seeing myriad random acts of ultra-PLUR everywhere we looked, but everyone in the festival was respectful and kind, no one was too belligerent or pushing through the crowd, and everyone was down to party in the exact way that fit the energy of each set.

Also, the attendees were very diverse in terms of age. It felt like a festival that was just as much about seeing the sights and taking in the surroundings (and eating all the locally sourced Finnish restaurants) as it was about dancing your heart out.

Production: A-

Given the factory buildings on site, there was a lot of opportunity for variation in expression when it came to production. The major stages were on par with any top-level festival in the world, while smaller areas used the industrial surroundings to their advantage.

For example, when Moderat (the supergroup consisting of Apparat and Modeselektor) performed they had an intricate and astounding visual production that enthralled the Silver Arena.

But also, the Backyard stage was situated on the grass under a garden of trees where people would rock to drum & bass and techno while The Other Sound X Sun Effects was inside an old warehouse where guest visual artists matched the intensity for the ears with intensity for the eyes.

Also, every act started on time and there wasn’t a single sound issue all weekend.

Photo: Konstantin Kondrukhov / Flow festival

Music: A 

The lineup was all-around impressive. Headliners and main stage acts like Blur and Caroline Polachek brought their A-game, and Lorde debuted two new songs for her first set ever in Finland.

On the dance/electronic front, there were numerous options. The Resident Advisor Frontyard was the spot Speedy J, Eris Drew + Octo Octa, and Folamour, combined an enormous sound system with intimate dancing while larger more expansive dance/electronic acts like Kaytranada were on major stages spinning to thousands.

But beyond more traditional curation, Flow went one deeper. Every fest these days has a house/techno stage. Flow, on the other hand, had Other Sound X Sun Effects which was made especially for experimental and ambient.

Flow also had Balloon 360 which was all about jazz, with artists like DOMi & JD Beck and Nala Sinephro. Usually, jazz is just a sprinkled-in genre these days, but Flow made it a centerpiece.

Venue: A+

What gets a venue the highest grade is if it captures the essence of its location, and Suvilahti did that exactly for Helsinki. Helsinki is a port town with a healthy balance of industrial and urban, and that’s the precise way to describe the venue.

Located within the grounds of an old factory, right on the water, the venue gave a welcome to Helsinki, and there was an amazing flow to the event (pun intended).

Nothing ever got too crowded, bathrooms were clean and readily available, it was very accessible by public transportation, and giant factory buildings were utilized for diverse programming.

There was even a skate park on site. And while unfortunately no one was allowed to skate, the festival painted the entire thing just for the weekend.

Photo: Konstantin Kondrukhov / Flow festival

Overall: A-

Overall Flow is a wonderful festival that demonstrates the kind of next-level care and attention that Europeans put into their events.

Just goes to show that even if a festival is in a city like Helsinki, which isn’t necessarily known for having a thriving music scene, there are people who are passionate about festival culture and who work very hard to curate an event that stacks up to any other around the world.

Featured image by Riikk Vaahtera

Written by
Harry Levin

Hi my name is Harry Levin. I live in LA and I'm an absolute lover of music.

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