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Flow Festival muffles R&B artist Solange Knowles over Helsinki noise regulations

Organisers muted the sound system for the artist’s closing set to avoid a fine for exceeding show's the time limit.

Laulaja Solange esiintymässä lähikuvassa.
Solange Knowles. Image: Rex / AOP

Helsinki’s heavily-promoted flow Festival ended not with a bang but with a whimper when organisers muted the sound system for the closing act, Solange Knowles, during the final minutes of her performance.

Organisers said that Knowles’ set continued past the midnight limit set for the concert. Helsinki city rules stipulate that there should be no outdoor performances past midnight.

According to festival spokesperson Susanna Hulkkonen, there are consequences for failure to comply with the regulations.

"Unfortunately we cannot be flexible on this matter. As a festival we cannot risk sanctions. In this kind of situation there can be hefty corporate fines," she noted.

Helsinki’s urban environment division specifies possible noise limits for events.

Solange "in good spirits" after show

Previously, another US neo-soul singer and songwriter Erykah Badu, was late onstage, but Hulkkonen said that this was not the reason that Knowles’ set extended beyond midnight.

"The artists had enough time for the change, so Erykah Badu’s lateness was not responsible for exceeding the time limit," Hulkkonen explained.

She continued that the time overrun was apparently caused by the fact that R&B artist Solange Knowles (who stepped in to replace US rapper Cardi B.) was so excited during her first visit to Finland that she couldn’t bring herself to end her performance, despite the warnings of her manager and stage crew.

"Solange herself was in good spirits after the gig and apologised for exceeding the time limit," Hulkkonen disclosed.

Different takes on organisers' actions

Some members of the audience expressed disappointment over not hearing the end of Solange’s set and took to social media to vent their frustration.

"The end of Solange Knowles’ concert last night was shameful for all Helsinki residents. She probably won’t return. Flow Festival probably would not have turned down Roling Stones [sic] or Björk in the middle of a song! Unbelievable!" tweeted patron Timo Tuhkanen.

Mikko Kauste, a musician with Finnish pop ensemble Egotrippi, had a different view of the event’s culmination.

"What happened at Flow: the evening’s main act Solange performed her last five minutes without a sound system because an entertainment license expired. It might be incredible to hear, but as I understand it the fines and sanctions are tough if the permit is violated. And of course neighbours would notice," he said on Twitter.

Helsinki mayor Jan Vapaavuori also weighed in on Twitter.

"It’s good that Flow-festival complied with noise regulations in a difficult situation. People in a bustling city sometimes need to be flexible so that others can have fun. However rules are needed and abiding by them is a sign of respect for others," the mayor wrote.

Some 27,000 patrons attended Flow Festival on Friday. It wraps up on Sunday, when headline performers will include the British rock band The Cure.

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