Music

Helsinki’s Flow Fest is the IKEA of Music Festivals

Music

Helsinki’s Flow Fest is the IKEA of Music Festivals

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Photography: Miikka Pirinen

Since its quiet founding in 2004, Helsinki’s Flow Festival mounts a large-scale and environmentally-conscious musical takeover in the Finnish capital’s Suvilahti power plant. This protected industrial area has striking permanent fixtures: one towering gas bell, a graffiti-covered skate park, and a broiler hall built in 1909, which serves as one of the festival’s nine venues. Last month, more than one-hundred-and fifty musicians, singers, rappers and DJs from seventeen countries took to the stage during Flow’s three days (August 11 – 13), with headliners Lana Del Rey, The xx and Frank Ocean, attracting 25,000 people each day.

And yet, Flow produces no landfill waste. Most of the energy production for the event comes from renewable fuels, which helps the festival to reduce its total carbon footprint. At the food stands (always one of the most excruciating aspects of our American festival-going experience) local restaurants use the season’s ingredients in their meals. The stages and yards are filled with performers both established and emerging: Alma, Finland’s bright neon-haired and outspoken popstar; Danish composer SØS Gunver Ryberg, the hardest dancing woman at the festival; and electronic frontwoman Alison Goldfrapp (now fifty-one years-old) who lit up the stage in a red kimono and matching leather pants after a heavy downpour delayed performances. Rapper Frank Ocean was undeniably the festival’s favorite act; against the setting sun at 10PM, he charmed the crowd with his charisma, a Blonde-heavy set-list, and an unexpected accompanying orchestra. 

Take a closer look at the festival through award-winning Finnish photographer Miikka Pirinen’s lens.