In the end of my earlier Muse gig report I stated that I have never been to a music festival. Well, now that “virginity” has gone with the visit to Flow Festival 2016 at Helsinki – that is if an urban city festival can be counted as a “real” festival?
92 euros (~100 usd) for a 1 day ticket was so ludicrous that I would not have done it without a 15 euro Onnibus.com bus ticket (Oulu-Helsinki) and a 25 euro return flight with Norwegian. And still it felt like I had to comb through the whole Sunday’s program (of mainly previously unknown artists) and choose a bit more than just “the thing”. What thing? Sia Furler, of course.
I got acquainted with Sia Furler’s music as late as 2011 when a friend tipped me. From there onwards it was pure love. A woman, who composes her own songs, sings beautifully, uniquelly, sensitively, oh my.
After getting familiar with the artists menu I chose Dua Lipa and Daughter in addition to Sia, which both surprised extremely positively.
Daughter’s dreamy guitar on “Doing the Right Thing” was a hit and run in such a melancholic half-slav as me and sank like a knife in to liquid butter. It managed to stop in the middle of the festival’s whirl and took you to somewhere far away for a moment. “New Ways” continued with the same hazy guitar tone I fell in love. The band played extremely well, so much so that I liked these live versions more than those heard on their recordings.
Mark my words, this artist is going to be big someday, big time. So magnificent is the voice of this very young (only 20-year old) female artist. It has more groove, soul, charm and purity than in a handful of today’s top female artists combined! And the supporting band was simply brilliant as well!
During the day I also saw J. Karjalainen for about 30 seconds, which is all I can take. In addition I visited the big tent when New Order was playing, but I think you had to be a die-hard fan in order to get something out of this old man’s obscure and (second-hand) embarrassing stage presence and out of tune singing. The festival’s most “baffling” experience was to drop in Riviera Cinema Bar in the middle of the movie “Wetlands” (Feuchtgebiete, 2013), which would be best described as a “genuine german art-film”. It was however a damn good flick (at least as far as I watched it) once you managed to turn your festival mode in to a cinema mood.
The evening ended with Sia’s 13 songs and exactly 1 hour performance. Even now while writing this I still have a little divided feelings, but mostly mesmerizingly thrilled. The concent itself is nothing to complain about. Hit after another and also my own favorites were mostly played (though I missed some of the older songs). And if Muse played, sang and performed live at least as good as on recordings then so did Sia. Divine voice, can’t argue about that.
And then the but. I knew and understood in forehand Sia’s stance on live performances. She says that music is the most important thing and she’s all covered up with wigs in the background, but I would have liked to seen even a small and discreet light show with some contact with the audience. Even though I’m a strong supporter of “less is more” thinking I’m not sure if the stage performance is all good without a band while singing on top of a tape with one or two dancers.
The setlist also repeated itself identically to previous Sia’s gigs (the ladies behind me predicted the next songs so well that I had to ask). Small variation would be “audience friendly” in my opinion. And yes, I know – the videoscreen’s pre-recorded dance performances combined with the live-event’s dancer’s almost identical moves require precise timing etc, but you could do a few song variation from show to show.
Festival’s Sunday morning opened with heavy rain and thunderstorms, which fortunately moved aside by afternoon. The outcome was a perfect sunny day and a very pleasant experience for my 1st festival visit. Sia was minimalistic, enchanting, unique, close to perfect. A strong 9 I’d say, which was completed close to a full 10 by Daughter and Dua Lipa’s energetic stage charisma. See my YouTube playlist for all my Flow videos (12 pcs @ Full HD). They total approx. 16-17 minutes worth of watching 🙂
The only things I was left to crave for this summer were Provinssirock’s Rammstein and Qstock’s Prodigy. Although Rammstein played only 3 of my favorite songs (Ich Tu Dir Weh, Mein Herz Brennt, Sonne) and Prodigy played so loud here in Oulu that I could hear them to my balcony 😀
- Flow Festival +
- toilet lines worked well, especially on the men’s side
- food was good, though I only tried one dish (and it was “festival priced”)
- acoustics and PA systems were mainly working nicely and sounded good (notably after setting the volume to your liking with earplugs)
- versatile selection of everything
- nice, well-behaving crowd, only a few totally wasted visitors
- Flow Festival –
- price of tickets
- some venues were a little too crowded at times