Flow Festival 2017 review: Lana Del Rey, The xx, Frank Ocean and more

From Lana's stage invasion to Frank's confidence boost

The 11th-13th August saw the return of Helsinki’s brilliant boutique urban festival, Flow. 75,000 guests enjoyed the music, arts and food on offer at the event, held in an abandoned power plant just outside the city centre.

Finnish group Satellite Stories were the first to hit the Main Stage on Friday night. The band were followed by Young Thug, who brought his signature, sultry hip hop vibes to the Finnish festival. His rendition of ‘Pick Up The Phone’ was accompanied by an eager crowd, who sang the chorus underneath Thug’s soft top vocals. Elsewhere, Manchester artist Willow took her place for a chilled house set in the Resident Advisor Front Yard.


READ: The story of Flow Festival 2017 in pictures

The first night of the festival was headlined by Lana Del Rey, who played a hit list set of her biggest tracks. Lining the backdrop were red curtains and a neon sign, giving the expansive Main Stage the feel of a smoky jazz club. After opener ‘Body Electric’, the songstress turned to ‘Cherry’, from new album, ‘Lust For Life’. Del Rey surprised the crowd by adapting the chorus lyrics of ‘Born To Die’ from “let me kiss you hard in the pouring rain” to “let me fuck you hard in the pouring rain.” The musician was interrupted in her performance of ‘Ride’, when a young fan stage invaded and went in for a hug, but she laughed it off and kept going in characteristically smooth style.


NME cover stars London Grammar went head to head with the Black Lips for the bedtime slot, seeing out the first day of Flow Festival 2017.

The next day, festival schedules went a little awry. Danny Brown was set to play the Main Stage on Saturday evening, but his show was cut short after just twenty minutes, when the festival site was struck by severe weather conditions. A thunderstorm sent guests scrabbling for shelter, before the stages were temporarily closed as a safety measure. But the Scandinavians, ever prepared, had the Main Stage open again after two hours, as Goldfrapp brought in the evening sunshine with a joyous set. “Keep dancing!” advised frontwoman Alison Goldfrapp, in an effort to combat the rainy chill.

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Good ol' Goldfrapp

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The xx were the second headline act of Flow Festival 2017, sweeping up the audience in an impressive spotlight show. Opening with ‘Intro’ and ‘Crystalised’ from 2009 debut album ‘xx’, the trio quickly followed with tracks from ‘Coexist’ and ‘I See You’. Romy Madley Croft went solo for an emotional rendition of ‘Performance’, lending her vocals again when the band played ‘Loud Places’ from Jamie xx’s 2015 album ‘In Colour’.

Sunday saw the festival site gearing up for headliner Frank Ocean, who would be closing his 2017 summer tour at Flow that evening. Hoards of guests queued at the ‘blonded’ merchandise stand ahead of the show. Before he took to the Main Stage, a back to back evening of girl power was going down over in the Zalando Black Tent, with shows from Princess Nokia, Jenny Hval and Angel Olsen.

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Angel Olsen ❤️

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When Frank finally took to the stage, he continued the trend of the tour by performing from a remote platform in the audience rather than on the front stage, to the disappointment of some who struggled to get a good view of the musician. However, with his live VCR feed visuals occupying the screens onstage, and a live orchestra performing behind him, the artist ensured the audience had plenty to watch during his engaging and sincere performance.

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#frankoceanflow ?? #sogood

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“This whole performing shit is new to me so I apologise if I mess up the timings… I just get really nervous,” he told the crowd. But despite his nerves, the singer appeared to have grown in confidence since his Lovebox show earlier in the summer, which received mixed reviews. As it was his final show, Ocean appeared relieved: “Hey, I can say whatever I want now!”


With vocals hitting every note with perfect clarity, the musician seemed to be getting to what he had wanted to say earlier in the summer – confidence helped him reach it. The show formed a triumphant finish to Flow Festival 2017, which was rounded off for another year by Moderat.