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!




Listen to this rare DJ set from The Avalanches

This baby has been hidden away for 12 years.

the avalanches

A friend of mine just dropped these two mixes just onto Soundcloud. Recorded at the Concord in Brighton back in August 2001, this an utter find. To quote:

A rare DJ set by The Avalanches, recreating their popular album Since I Left You but with many additions.

Clearly I don’t own the rights to either this mix or the original music, but it’s been over 10 years since I was given these mp3s as a treat by the sound team at one of their live performances, and thought it time to share this awesome mix and to remind you all of The Avalanches.

Put this in your ears.

Got a question about this recording? Ask Josh.

Have a great Monday y’all.


5 things brands can learn from the Bieber debacle

Come on, you all knew this was coming.

It has not been a good few days for the global superstar. Where do we begin?

The #BieberBacklash (yes, that’s actually a hashtag) began when he had the ‘worst birthday‘ after being ejected from a London club for allegedly smuggling underage fans/guests through the door.

It’s a tough life, right? #BieberProblems.

Then, over the weekend, a seemingly innocuous tweet kicked off a fracas after Beiber RT’d a (SHOCK HORROR) a non-fan for saying she liked his new album.

The  Drum reports:

‘A succession of embittered fans jealous that their idol had deigned to retweet someone other than themselves who wasn’t a ‘real’ fan duly emerged with a series of hate filled tweets; including @julietesqueda who wrote: ‘Not really a fan of Justin Bieber but his acoustic album is really good!’’

Finally, last night, the Biebs was not one but two hours late arriving on stage on the opening night of his four day stint at the O2 . On a schoool night too? Never. Never say never. 

But OK, let’s look at this properly – what can brands learn from this?

1. Think before you Tweet
A few years ago, an agency head got into trouble after being somewhat unkind about the city where his main client was based. A silly error and, looking back through the mist of social media evolution, it seems like it’s a mistake of days gone by. But still, the lesson stands true: think before you tweet and never, ever tweet angry.

2. Reward existing fans, as well as new ones
Advocacy is everything. And, as innocent as it is to celebrate the acquisition of a new fan, treating all others in the same way will reap the benefits in the long term. In short: existing customers matter. Many service providers have got into the habit of offering their latest and best promotions (or at least deals of equal value) to both sets of customers. In future, Bieber might do too.

Sidenote: see also the death of ‘Our 2000th follower wins X!’ competitions. If you see this in action, call it out!  Why would anyone want to reward this brand new person when the 1999 have been supporting your growth along the way? It doesn’t make sense.

3. Know your audience
Whenever you kick off ANY kind of social media activity it is essential you understake a number of listening exercises to not only understand the current landscape of the market you’re working in but to also understand your audience. If Bieber had any insight – or had done any research – he would’ve known the following:

  • Monday night is a school night yo!
  • Travelling in (and out of) London late at night isn’t a fantastic experience (especially for young kids)
  • If he didn’t hear the boos from his dressing room then he certainly should/could have read about their disappointment online

4. Under-promise, over-deliver
Keeping your brand promises my seem like an easy and obvious one but it’s amazing how often many different brands forget this (at the expense of their fans and consumers). If you’re going to promise an AMAZING concert to all of your LOVING fans at a specific time, then you better make sure it happens.

And if you don’t – if you over-promise and under-deliver -well, then you really need to –

5. Invest in a Crisis Comms plan
Plan for the worst. Know what to do when things go wrong. At the time of writing, the Biebmeister is still yet to address the wealth of disappointed fans that had to leave the O2 early last night. A good crisis comms plan would know what to do in this situation: be that have the man(?) himself apologise on stage or even consider refund the ticket money – there are many different ways he could make this situation better. 12hrs later: none are yet to appear.

Irrespective of your opinion on Bieber-mania, there are a many, many unhappy fans sitting down at school today who feel let down by their beloved idol.

Read over the above again and just think: could it happen to you?


 Image via Adam Sundana on Flickr

Bowie vs Marketing

This is perfect –

“We live in an age when distraction is everywhere, consumers are multi-screening – and multi-screening is actually an acceptable verb – and the industry assumes that to get what marketing departments call cut-through or mind-share for music you have to bombard people: artists are supposed to be in a constant dialogue with their fans, via Twitter or blogs or Facebook. It’s a timely reminder that mystique is a valuable commodity. You can perhaps give people more by giving them less.”

— Tim Ingham, Editor of Music Week

The above quote is taken from ‘The inside story of how David Bowie made The Next Day‘ which features in today’s Guardian.

Explaining (in quite fantastic detail) how exactly, in an age of cameraphones and gossip websites and social media, Bowie’s album remained under wraps for two whole years before appearing, seemingly out of nowhere, last Tuesday – it is a great read.

Screen Shot 2013-01-12 at 10.52.39

It seems we could all learn a thing or two from Mr Bowie.

VonStroke / Zeitgeist / National

aka – Three Track Thursday #3 

Screen shot 2012-12-16 at 10.46.32

Three(ish) music recommendations for you!

1. My dear friend (and idea-sparring partner), Sarah, pointed me in the direction of this wonderful collection of music that is Hype Machine’s Zeitgeist. I’ve been listening to Hypem since, I dunno, maybe around 2006, but I always catch myself forgetting about it.

2. Joe tweeted this, earlier this week and my oh my, dese choons are so good yeah –

Reebok Classics Live from The Manchester Warehouse Project 30th Nov 2012 (Part 2 – Claude VonStroke) by Reebok Classics on Mixcloud

3. And thanks to Pretty Much Amazing, I’ve got a couple of new tracks from The National to share with you too. This is ‘Sullivan’.

And this is ‘Prime’

‘Til next time…

Hoop Music

Wrap Party, 2012

Hoop Music is the label behind Tom the Lion, Good Cop and Satellites. They’ve (all) had an amazing year and, to celebrate, they’re throwing a wrap party – huzzah!

The really great thing is, not only will the evening be filled with magnificent music but also, all the proceeds from the tickets will go to support Campaign Against Living Miserably.

To re-cap –

What: Hoop Music Wrap Party 2012
Where: The Tabernacle, 34-35 Powis Square, London, W11 2AY
When: Fri 14th December
Why: For charity, innit
How: Tickets are available now – £5!

I’m going.

You should too.