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REVIEW: Flow Festival launch party, Birthdays, London, 3rd June 2015

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An exclusive Finland-infused invite-only event brewed down in the basement of one of Dalston’s favourite venues, Birthdays. Branded with posters and stacked flyers embracing Finnish culture, this was a launch party of Finland’s top event, Flow Festival.

Everybody loves free food and the first priority of the attendees was to queue in a chaotic formation to sample the delights of Finnish cuisine, which was mainly represented by a salad of new potatoes, lingonberries, beetroot and other Helsinki seasonal ingredients.

The luxury of free Nordic alcohol was their second point of call, and a risky strategy from the organizers. Its magnetism kept many of the guest list occupied throughout the night, blissfully unaware that artists had travelled over 1000 miles to play to people who appeared to be more interested in food and drink than their music.

Celebrated by the media in her home country for being the first Finnish act to win the Nordic Music Prize, Mirel Wagner seemed ill suited to the proceedings. Her moody acoustic folk was drowned out by a rising storm of chattering. Musically minimalistic, subtle, short and deliberately repetitive, her award-winning quality lies in her cold, sinister menacing lyrics that require special attention. Those her know her mysterious stage persona, wouldn’t have been surprised to see her leave the stage with bewildering eyes and the nonchalant phrase: “I have no more songs for you.”

Performing a mix of old songs, ‘Take Me To The Mountain’ and ‘Something Golden’ from Love and Nature, as well as premiering fresh creations including ‘Fooled’, ‘Done With The Scene’ and ‘Ying Yang Power’, electro-rap-pop sisters LCMDF (Le Corps Mince De Françoise) were the shiny yang to Wagner’s tranquil yin. Eccentric and bubbly with vibrant red lipstick and a bizarre gif backdrop, singer Emma Kemppainen was more successful than Mirel Wagner at connecting with the crowd. In the battle of performances, Wagner’s focused professionalism lost out to LCMDF’s loosely planned buddying. Their cult popularity and single-album archive meant that despite their looming 10th anniversary, they had to keep reminding the audience of their complex name.

The third Finnish export, 2-step glitch-hop Paper T & Khid had early recognition and the biggest cheers from the audience, resulting in an unforeseen encore. The fact that they were the only act to perform in Finnish, showed that thumping bass and synchronized pulsating lights are always a winning formula, no matter where you are. Sadly, this left a disappointing, banal and predictable impression of a country that – based on their Helsinki tourist guide – claims to be dynamic, fresh and surprising.

https://youtu.be/b54wbSJBvSQ

Flow Festival is taking place in Helsinki, 14th – 16th August 2015. For line up details and tickets visit the festival site.

Read our European Festival Guide for further information about Flow Festival and other European events.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.