The things I saw @FlowFestival 2013

Quite simply: the best weekend I’ve ever spent in Finland.


After the intense theatre-going antics of the Edinburgh Fringe, I hopped on a plane in Glasgow and flew my tired behind over to Finland for what is their biggest and best music festival, Flow.


For the past six years, behind this former power plant in deepest darkest Helsinki, the people of Finland have laid host to musicians many, and fearless festival fashionistas too.
But we’ll come back to that one shortly…


Arriving on the Thursday meant that I’d missed the opening party on the Wednesday (featuring The Knife) however, not to be perturbed, I embraced Friday’s antics like there was no tomorrow.

In fact, instead of just reeling off what I saw on each day – I’m going to list the, quite frankly, AMAZING bands/singers/acts that I managed to see over the course of the three nights I was there. Before I start talking about just how awesome the festival is, you need to understand the breadth of musical talent available to you, via FLOW. Ready?


  • Kendrick Lamar – ‘Good, but not as good as I hoped it’d be’.
  • Cat Power – ‘Really bloody good’.
  • Alicia Keys -  Ahhh Alicia! I actually met Alicia Keys back in 2001, when she was doing the circuit promoting Songs in A Minor (I’ve got the copy that she signed for me knocking around the flat somewhere) and I really wanted to see her again. She was… AMAZING (of course).
  • Moderat, never heard of them, turns out they’re amazing. We danced. HARD.

It was an amazing day.

And it ended with a random house party somewhere in south Helsinki at a converted loft apartment with our host serving champagne and salmon until the early hours. No, really.

I bloody love the Finnish.

Sidenote: Look up Huotron


  • Lieminen. A Finnish sensation which basically culminated with every Finnish person I knew leaping around shouting – ‘Party time! Excellent!’ – like this, but with a stronger beat.
  • Tim Sweeney, with his Beats in Space radio show – SO good.
  • Space Dimension Controller (MENTAL). With trippy inter-galactic chill out tunes and voice-overs such as ‘Flying through space and meeting a robotic prostitute that wasn’t mentioned in the tour guide’, SDC was certainly a festival highlight.
    Sidenote: The RBMA Backyard, where I heard the last two acts mentioned, was my discovery of the day on Saturday. With myriad electro-beats from Tim Sweeney and then into the mind-bending acid-tripping storytelling from the Space Dimension Controller, it all got pretty weird, pretty quickly. Great vibe though)
  • Cody Chestnut. Everyone had a really good dance to this stuff. A really good dance.
  • My Bloody Valentine. The signs said ‘WEAR EARPLUGS’. The Englishman said ‘Don’t be so daft! You Finns worry too much!’ My friends said ‘JAMES. WEAR EARPLUGS’. I said… ‘AAAAAAAAARGH MY EARS!!’
  • Circuit Des Yeux. This was our attempt to see something random at the The Other Sound stage. It was pretty random, definitely. Imagine soft folk music, with a dash of whale song. Now strangle that whale and beat it against the kitchen table. Yeah, that’s what it sounded like. Still, they had bean bags. Which was nice. After three songs we got up and left, took a stroll past Nick Cave and wandered off for…
  • Mount Kimbie. Another recommendation from my host, Robin. I don’t know how we ended up in the tent where they were playing, but they turned out to be bloody EPIC. And the perfect way to end the Saturday night. Must look them up some more when I hit home turf. Similarly to Moderat, a really good dance discovery.

Ended back at Siltunen for dancing til 4am.
Blagged my way in.
Danced like a maniac.
Job done.

Bonus from Saturday? Regular readers will know that I’m currently reviewing a neat little gadget called the Autographer. On the Saturday I decided to clip it to my friend Ville just to see what happened. Not only did Ville (with the Autographer) end up taking nearly 1800 photos(!), but he also threw them all together into one awesome little 3min video. Check it –

How awesome is that? Scratch one up for ‘useful applications of wearable tech’, right there.


  • Public Enemy. It’s a bold man that dedicates a set to both trayvon Martin AND Michael Jackson but that’s what Flavor Flav did. Legend. That plus Mixes, raps and crowd runs. Full on, rubbish and yet brilliantly bonkers all at the same time. Towards the end of Public Enemy I was encouraged to leave a bit early and head to…
  • HAIM. So I did. My reward? A damn good spot for what was probably my performance of the entire festival. Even though the lead singer had a throat infection (and yet refused to cancel – like oh so many others) the set was re-organised, tracks rearranged, and everyone had an epic time. Seriously, I loved them –

After that we wandered back to find our friends and watch some…

  • Of Monsters And Men – Hey! – that’s all I need to say really.
    (…then we skipped Disclosure for…)
  • Bat for Lashes! YES! MAD as a March hare but oh so amazing with it. I really enjoyed this, as did my guests and friends. I think BfL was one of the few ‘full’ performances that I caught all festival. And I was glad for it. After that, we donned our glasses and sought out ourselves some…
  • Kraftwerk………
    AUTOBAHN in 3D, bitches. IMMENSE.


Much laughter ensued. Post-dicking-about here, we went off to catch the..

  • Opening tracks from Goat (mental) seriously, WTF-levels of AWESOME. And then, last but not least —
  • Grimes, who must’ve been hammered. She couldn’t get her sound right and then had these random dancers.. it was just, strange. Give me a repeat of HAIM any day.

And that, was that. Well, I say that, I mean – that was all the MUSIC that we saw. IN THREE DAYS. Amazing. I know I’ve used that word a lot over the past several hundred words or so but seriously, Flow Festival was amazing. My original plan was to just list the music and then talk about how much of an awesome time I had. However, I think I’ve managed to kill two birds with one stone with the above descriptions…

However! One thing I do know though is —

Next time anyone asks me, ‘What is FLOW?’ I will answer:

  • Flow is the best festival I have ever been to overseas.
  • Flow is the most fun I have ever had in Finland.
  • Flow is the best place to find the widest selection of popular, random, esoteric, and world music.
  • Flow is home to some of the best-dressed festival-goers in the entire world.
  • Flow is where I’m going to be this time next year.

I’m serious: if you’ve never been to Finland before, go for Flow Festival.

You’ll have the best time ever.


PS. Early bird tickets for 2014 are on sale NOW.
PPS. Want to see more? Check out my Flow Festival Flickr album!




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Author: James Whatley

Chief Strategy Officer in adland. I got ❤️ for writing, gaming, and figuring stuff out. I'm @whatleydude pretty much everywhere that matters. Nice to meet you x

4 thoughts on “The things I saw @FlowFestival 2013”

  1. 1st video – 2:32 WTF is the frog all about??

    James Whatley Reply:


    I asked Ville the exact same thing. It turns out a friend of his has an actual frog *as a purse*. Yup, that’s right. It was a frog, it died, they ‘cleaned it out’, varnished it (or whatever) and now they use it to keep their money in.


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