It was unexpectedly hot and sunny this past weekend at Flow Festival, Helsinki’s biggest music event, which made it even more magical. Everyone was dressed to the nines and ready to celebrate the latest festival of the summer before going back to the routine. And celebrate we did! The diverse lineup ranged from acclaimed international artists like Tove Lo, Lorde, Caroline Polachek, 070 Shake, and Kaytranada to electrifying DJs like Octo Octa, Speedy J, and Folamour to Finnish acts like Sexmane, Anna Puu, Litku Klemetti, and Modem. A versatile amalgamation of genres and styles that felt like an emotional rollercoaster. We were there to tell you all about it. Enjoy the free ride! 
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First of all, it was positively shocking to attend a festival where people behaved so well. It’s not that they normally don’t, it’s just that they might go… too heavy on the alcohol and embracing the festival mood. At Flow, people respected your personal space to dance, didn’t skip the line when ordering food or drinks, and kept the premises pretty clean. Never before seen, honestly. But cheers to that.
After over a decade, the festival is saying farewell to Suvilahti, the massive industrial location it’s been taking place since 2007, which has become an iconic landmark and a very recognisable symbol of Flow. For the latest edition there, the organisation dolled the place up with dozens of colourful murals, sculptures and structures made by local and international artists that made the environment more joyful, creative, and inspiring. 
On Friday, we kicked things off at the Resident Advisor Front Yard stage with Modem, a Finnish synth-pop duo led by singer Tytti Roto. Dressed in black vinyl and with a contagious rock ’n’ roll attitude, she lit the stage up first thing in the afternoon by singing, dancing, and playing the saxo. Habibi Funk followed in the Backyard stage, where he mixed sounds from around the world and even played a surprising cover of Shakira’s Whenever, Wherever in Arabic. A total banger.  
We stayed in the electronic music stages for a longer while. With duo Chaos in the CBD, sounds got darker and more club-oriented – and people were living for it! Security even had to control the access for a bit because it got packed. Kampire brought us back to light with her eclectic mix of sounds, ranging from Brazilian funk to Gwen Stefani’s Hollaback Girl. Meanwhile, at the X Garden stage, Club U-Haul – a club for BIPOC queers and friends – was curating and hosting a wide range of DJs and artists who played everything from Saucy Santana to Rihanna and Beyoncé, and even MCed some songs. Hardcore voguing, twerking and fanning among the dolls, the gays, and girls (and anyone who escapes any kind of categorisation). 
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Aiming to rest our legs a bit, we headed to the Ballon 360º stage, where we sat through half of Nala Sinephro’s evocative jazz. She started playing the harp accompanied by her four bandmates (each playing a different instrument), and then started mixing that hypnotising sound with a controller. The result was a captivating concert full of emotion and experimentation, which mixed traditional instruments with electronic devices. 
After that, three main figures in the international music scene were playing. First off, 070 Shake took to the Silver Arena stage with her radiant energy (and bottle in hand, of course). Her fandom is devoted to her wherever she goes, singing her every song, jumping, and just going wild. A true star on the rise. Wizkid also proved his superstar power on the Main stage with a spectacular show that included fire, water, and the singer’s chart-topping hits. To finish the first day, Kaytranada was our go-to. He brought a very visual and vivid show on the screens that ranged from a skylight at night to more conceptual animations of colours and hues, and he played a combination of songs from Kaytraminé, his latest album in collaboration with Aminé, and past hits. 
On Saturday, we started again at the Resident Advisor Front Yard stage with NYC-based DJ Voices. Talking to her the day before, she was debating with herself between staying true to her more experimental sound and offering the audience a more danceable set. Behind the decks, she balanced both and made us start the day in the right mood. Following her, Jyoty put the pedal to the metal with a more accelerated set that mixed all kinds of genres and decades. On the same fashion, Nooriyah played at the Backyard stage and had us dancing to remixes of the Nooran Sisters and Bellini’s Samba de Janeiro, raising the energy levels through the roof.  
At The Other Sound x Sun Effects stage, a place for experimental sounds and artists with more radical proposals, we enjoyed The New Boyfriends first and Maya Shenfeld second. The Finnish duo offered an extremely noisy and chaotic show (that we loved!) where they played around construction materials (meaning hammering, crashing, and kicking) that was pure intensity and improvisation. On the other hand, Maya’s show was much more intimate and personal, creating enveloping soundscapes that took us out of this world and brought us to a new dimension. 
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We some action after that intensity, so we headed to Pusha T. He never disappoints, and this time was no different. Singing to a filled-to-the-brim audience, the American rapper showed why he’s still strong in the game. And from one star to another, the Main stage was tainted Barbie pink and decorated with ‘60s-inspired giant curtains to receive Lorde, possibly the biggest act of the night. The emo pop star’s music is as intimate, powerful and soulful as ever, and she created a beautiful bond with her Finnish audience.
On our way to the Silver Arena, we made a quick stop by the X Garden stage, which was curated by Club Zero on Saturday. The biggest surprise of the night was Glayden , an upcoming Finnish artist that presented a short but intense live act that blended hip hop with electronic music beautifully. And then, we bowed to queen Tove Lo. The Swedish pop star’s concert was super fun. Her sensual, naughty, and liberating energy was intoxicating, and she ate the stage alone without backup dancers. Surely the best way to end the night. 
We started Sunday where we left off the previous night. The sensual act of Tove Lo was a prelude to Sexmane’s awesome Sexshow concert. Despite our back pain and sore feet, we went to the festival early to catch up with the 22-year-old phenomenon, whose self-released debut Sextape in 2019 became the first-ever platinum streaming indie album in Finland. The young artist is surely one to watch. He connected to the audience instantly with songs from his latest album, Sextape II, as well as the earlier hits that have skyrocketed him to fame.  
Lara Silva was playing pretty hardcore at the X Garden stage when we got there, so we obviously had to stay. The music, the dancers, the audience… it was pure fire! On Sunday, the collective Korgy was in charge of curating the lineup, and co-founder Ceb was next. He kept the energy just as high with a combination of techno and bops like a remix of Benni Bennassi's anthem Satisfaction. At the Front Yard, Folamour was in a more chill mood, playing a groovy selection of house music that was just joyous.  
But we had to rush to see Caroline Polachek. She was debuting in Finland, and even though the audience was rather quiet, they still vibed to the hypnotising, mermaid-like voice of the British singer. The pop star's show was highly theatrical and gestural, which matched perfectly her enigmatic and tantalising personality. Just as theatrical was Sudan Archives, who was playing the violin passionately while singing at the Black Tent stage. But leave it to Christine and The Queens for the real drama. Chris changed outfits several times during the one-hour performance, which was highly personal, political and captivating, and went from almost naked to becoming an angel under dramatic lights.
Getting to the end, the icing on the cake was the b2b between real-life couple Eris Drew and Octo Octa. The DJs are used to bouncing each other’s energy on and off stage, and that wholesome telepathy showed during the entire set. Spreading love and happiness, we ended on a high that we’re still recovering from. 
This was a perfect farewell to Sulivahti, a rather emotional one. Having established itself as one of the most important music festivals in the North, we’re sure Flow’s next year edition will be just as special in its new location. The lineup, of course, will be as versatile as it’s always been, bringing together a well-curated mix of genres and artists that lets you experience the current music scene from a myriad of genres and approaches to sound-making. And we’ll be excited to be there to report live again! 
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070 Shake
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Caroline Polachek
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Christine and The Queens
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Tove Lo