Written by Georgina Langford
Posted 12/08/2013
District MTV embarked on our latest festival adventure at the weekend, decamping to Finland for Helsinki's 10th annual Flow Festival. With Alicia Keys, Haim, Grimes, Disclosure and Mykki Blanco amongst those on the amazing line-up, you wouldn't think that it could get much more impressive than the acts hitting the stage, but Flow really was in a league of its own – find out why with our list of 15 things we loved about Flow Festival below.


1. Who knew a disused industrial power plant could make such an impressive festival site? Everywhere you turned at Flow there was something interesting and beautiful to look at, whether it was the unusual stage set-ups, the street art, the bewitching lights, secret passageways, swings, treehouses, hammocks, or just the amazingly stripped back design that made everything look so goddamn cool.

2. The style. Man alive, everyone at Flow Festival looks like they've just stepped out of an Acne advert. With Game of Thrones undercuts and plaits all over the place, the Finns are just so good looking; how do they do it?! 'Festival fashion' just isn't a concept over there – instead everyone was dressed in their very best. We saw approximately two pairs of denim cut-off shorts the entire weekend. British festivalgoers, take note. And inspiration. Please.

3. Festival food? Forget about it. In the words of artistic director Tuomas Kallio, Flow "curate and invite" selected restaurants and caterers to provide the most amazing selection of healthy, delicious cuisine we have ever experienced at a festival. Especially if you are a vegetarian, in which case there's an option for you at every stall. Fresh tofu, coconut and lemongrass curry with sticky rice, crisped onions and fresh coriander, served on a biodegradable wooden plate? Don't mind if we do. The festival falafel curse is finally over, praise be.

4. All festivals should have an on-site skate park. We observed/swooned over the pro and amateur skaters alike on the Friday of Flow, while Satellite Stories played upbeat, sunny indie pop in the Nokia Blue Tent next door, providing a neat soundtrack and making us feel like we were multi-tasking – band and boy-watching, what's not to love?

5. People don't go quite as wild at gigs and festivals in Finland. Not to say that people weren't enjoying the odd cocktail or two, but you can't take booze into some of the music areas, and that meant less mosh-pits, spewing and brawling, more appreciative nods. Even for a band like Parquet Courts, whose rowdy tunes had SXSW crowds going bananas, Flow Festival kept it civilised. They know how to rave though; we saw all the greatest dance moves during Disclosure's set.

6. Noah Kin is going to be the next big thing in hip-hop. The straight edge 19-year-old Finnish/Nigerian boy is already on his third album, has poetic yet accessible rhymes by the truckload, and a confidence on stage that reminds DMTV of Lupe Fiasco. This boy is going to be massive.

7. True story: Alicia Keys is a really nice person. She might be one of the biggest pop singers on the planet, but she dished out some relationship advice and was happy to chat just a short while before she took to the main stage for a true diva performance. Plus, the woman never stops smiling!

8. Finnish people love Nick Cave. Like, really love him. We lost count of the number of 'Bad Seed' T-shirts we saw on the Saturday, and the screams for his performance were some of the loudest of the festival.

9. Cycling is where it's at for Helsinkians. Most people live in relatively close vicinity to the festival, so bikes are the chosen method of transport. It's good for the environment and you look cool – both two verrrrry Finnish things.

10. Talking of saving the planet, there's no litter at Flow. Why? Because you pay a one Euro deposit on every can of drink you buy, which you get back when you return the can at various drop off-points. Would you chuck your beer can on the floor if you knew it would cost you a pound each time? No. Smart thinking, team Flow.

11. Austra, the Canadian Florence-esque singer with an electro band and awesome style, is kind of our new obsession. Plus her keyboardist is in another band called Ze And The Boyfriends, which is just the best band name ever.

12. Bat for Lashes: girl and boy crushes all round after that total babe popped in to talk to DMTV about Brighton, fashion and whether or not she does a traditional Finnish naked sauna. We will reveal her answer to that particular question real soon. Be patient. Her performance on the Sunday night was both incredibly moving and seriously glittery, as one might expect.

13. Helsinki is pretty happening when it comes to the music. Even after the festival closed each night, there were so many places in town to catch live bands. Some of the local artists even let us know the secret spots – it's well worth exploring.

14. Flow is pretty small – with just 20,000 maximum capacity there's no pushing and shoving to see your favourite band. Which is nice. We were on the barrier for Grimes, having been able to walk up to it 5 minutes before she went on.

15. Finally, Flow is fun because it's weird, and small, and diverse – the line-up is truly bizarre, with massive crowds wearing 3D glasses watching Kraftwerk do a live DJ set on the main stage, while other people party in the Boiler Room or Red Bull Dance Academy tents. And Bat for Lashes is swirling around on another stage. The whole event is designed for people to have a memorable experience, as opposed to just chucking some big name bands in a field, adding 100k people and hoping for the best, aka the festival norm. Flow – the festival for people who don't like festivals?

Look out for more Flow Festival 2013 interviews with the stars and street style coming soon!