Nick Triani looks forward to another Flow Festival in Helsinki. Find out his tips for best shows, his personal festival don'ts and the concept of live bucket lists.
Help The Aged
As my aging process gathers pace (I’m 52 years old), my artists to see live bucket list is diminished with each passing year. Of course, when we usually discuss ‘classic live shows’, these normally refer to artists or bands that form the canon of popular music. No I never saw The Beatles or Elvis Presley but I did catch Public Enemy in their prime. Impressed? Well, perhaps you’re not, but it has placed a lot of hip hop shows i’ve seen ever since into perspective. This is where past experiences inform those that are still to come. Still, this excludes the new discovery that keeps my appetite for music satiable.
This is where past experiences inform those that are still to come
In 2018, probably more than any other year, my festival needs require comfort. Toilets with toilet paper and toilet seats that are clean. Somewhere to put my feet up (so I’m not standing all day). Sound that carries to the back of the tent so I don’t necessarily have to get so close to the front of the stage to feel the music. You get the idea. To be honest, the almost non-typical-festival-experience that is Flow Festival is perfect for me. Flow for a lot of people has become an event which values social experience, food, drink and just being there as much (if not more) than any perceived musical highlight. I’m there strictly for the music, but the slightly edgeless ambience that Flow increasingly creates actually suits my maturing festival requirements. No mud is just fine for me. A 20 degree temperature with a sea breeze would be ideal, with a cooling off in the later hours.
At festival shows, I’ve increasingly gone for performances that add a bit extra. Like extravagant pyrotechnics. I’ve paid my dues watching bands in small dives and underground festivals with poor amenities and shit sound. Those bands apparently being ‘for real’ (whatever this has meant?) rarely pay off for me as my reality is not yours. Increasingly, I look for an emotional connect from shows. I like genuine attitude too. If I hear another fucker saying how pleased they are to play Helsinki I think I’ll explode. So many things have to align for any particular band or act to feel special for me. I live in hope that something blows me away, but more often than not, this doesn’t happen any more, yet shows can still be interesting for other reasons.
If I hear another fucker saying how pleased they are to play Helsinki I think I’ll explode. So many things have to align for any particular band or act to feel special for me
So, perusing through the Flow line-up for 2018, there’s much to intrigue. Friday’s main stage is a definite treasure trove for nostalgia nuts: Ms. Lauryn Hill (1998’s Miseducation… album remains a valid RnB benchmark) – if she appears. Patti Smith is here. Patti still represents a version of New York cool and 1975 and pre-punk poetry which doesn’t really exist anymore (how conservative we are in 2018). Then there is Fleet Foxes, one of the bands who made up the last Indie hurrah of the late 2000s. They will be peddling their latest anguished folk. Elsewhere on Friday a Finnish kind of nostalgia appears with the return of Joensuu 1685, whilst punk and indie are in the capable hands of Kakka-Hätä 77 and Kynnet. The always well curated The Other Sound stage offers the most interest on any day, with the appearance of Terry Riley & Gyan Riley a Friday highlight.
The early start for day two already works against me after the late night from day one. Arctic Monkeys pitch up their new, dense and very good album on the mainstage on Saturday. The big wish list band for Flow fans. More 2000s indie royalty in the form of Grizzly Bear also make a Finnish debut. Charlotte Gainsbourg, D.A.F., Shame, Lau Nau and Helena Huff all potentially make Saturday a varied and interesting adventure for me.
Usually, Sunday is a step too far for my tolerance of crowds and festivals in general, yet this year’s final day at Flow reveals the biggest possible treasures. Kendrick Lamar arrives at Flow much more fully formed than when he last played the festival in 2013. He returns to the festival as a bonafide superstar, but also a beacon for black culture’s 2018 dominance. One could argue this particular renaissance started with Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly album. Kamasi Washington offers an even more lucid take from the Balloon 360° stage. St.Vincent and Fever Ray bring on progressive sounds, acute visuals and queer culture. Tangerine Dream (no really) could be a dream (maaan), whilst Moses Sumney and Kevin Morby bring experimental pop and energy to a very good line-up.
Away from the music, Grease and My Neighbor Totoro offer my cinematic picks, whilst a wide array of contemporary art, installations, short films, visuals and workshops will feed the imagination for the whole weekend. A tradition for me has been taking my youngest child to the Family Sunday over the years, so, if all else fails, I’ll see you at the most happening part of the festival on Sunday.