My Flow experience this year extended only to one day, Saturday, but it was one fantastic day filled with once in a lifetime must-sees like My Bloody Valentine and Nick Cave. As a first-timer at the festival I was both excited and a bit apprehensive given its reputation as a) a fashion catwalk and b) a music event. My reservations turned out to be ill-founded as the relaxed atmosphere and accessibility of the place immediately made you feel at ease.
We arrived as Finnish pop singer Samae Koskinen was playing and after that we went to see Woods, which is a one of those de-countryfied American indie folk bands that are really growing on me. I absolutely love their rattling 60′s sound, perfect for a sunny afternoon. They played at the Balloon stage, which was built like an amphitheatre with people seated all around the band. Unfortunately I was too short to get any good pictures from where I was standing, so I opted for getiting into festival mode by focusing on the music and drinking overpriced beer.
Next up was Sweden’s middle class hero Jens Lekman. The last time I saw him was at the Hulstsfred Festival back in 2004 and the only difference between then and now was a receding hairline. Lekman’s socioculturally intact Swede-pop songs makes him so easy to like and believe, even when he sings about getting married just to get a green card. He made the enormous main stage shrink volumes with his mild demeanor and long conversations with the audience in between songs. After the last song he told us that if he had failed to play that song you were waiting for, then you should come up to him later on and he’d sing it for you. Oh Jens, you and your anti-rockstar charm (I totally would’ve requested “Julie”).
I would have liked to catch a glimpse of British punks Parquet Courts but chose to head straight to the Blue Tent, in time for My Bloody Valentine. Had to get as close as possible and the tent was filling up FAST.
Got my ear plugs out.
The sound was massive, of course. The sheer volume and levels and levels of amplified guitar shredding was enough to humble you into instant worshipping. Their status as living legends and their enormous impact on musical history, when added to the enormity of their sound, made the experience feel nothing less than pulverizing.
With no time to process the amazing soul-cleansing experience we ran straight towards the main stage, which Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds had already invaded. The whole area in front of the stage was packed and in the dark it was hard to try to navigate your way to a better spot. But we managed to squeeze ourselves into the pit and ended up at an acceptable distance from the gangly genius on stage. I wouldn’t have minded so much if they would’ve gotten an earlier slot, although daylight might not provide the best setting for a band like Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds.
Even some twenty meters from the main man his energetic presence was still felt. From the big screens you could witness him constantly interacting with the people in front of the stage, lingering on the edge and grabbing all the aching hands reaching for his. Cave ran across the stage fully immersed in his exorcism inspired dance moves for most of the show, however, there were moments of complete stillness like when he sat at the piano playing “Love Letter” and “Into My Arms”. He was also able to silence the entire screaming crowd during his encore by simple uttering “shhh”. The commander/rock star made me want to devote my life to following him around on tour. Then again I almost always feel like that when I see a band I love on stage.
Following Nick Cave was dream pop hitmakers Beach House. Vocalist Victoria Legrand marvelled at the crowd and revealed that they had expected to be playing in front of two people. The band had clearly underestimated their level of popularity as The Blue Tent was fully packed with screaming fans. Beach House’s sound is in a category of its own but what made the live experience so memorable was the stunning vocal power of Legrand.
Her voice was as shive- inducing as the wall of sound created earlier by MBV’s fifty million guitar amplifiers. Legrand’s voice pierced their velvety and dreamy sound, as they wrapped up the second day of Flow in a beautiful haze.