Having been to MELT! Festival several years ago, I thought I knew what to expect of the site layout and the general atmosphere of the festival.
What I didn’t expect was to once again be gob-smacked by the spectacular landscape of epic mining machinery, car-sized disco balls and 30 foot fire jets. In retrospect, I was a fool to be so blasé…
After setting up camp as quick as possible and beginning the 15 minute walk towards the festival site I started getting all excited as the huge mining equipment began to loom over the horizon. I knew I was going to be in for some musical treats, but the enormity of the imposing site had left my memory. I was lucky enough to camp with a group of German lads of one side of me and a separate group of Belgian, Irish and Swedish lovelies that made my festival experience a more fantastic one because of their company and I also got to soak up their respective music tastes and recommendations too.
OK, so let’s get the complaints out of the way so I can get to the good stuff. Number 1: how on earth does a festival so expertly crafted in every other way manage to only have TWO free water sources to cater for 25,000 people?! Don’t get me wrong, there was loads of water to buy, but 3 EUROS to stay hydrated over 4 days of intense, outdoor, summertime dancing is properly taking the piss.
Problem nummer zwei exacerbates the water issue by making it impossible for punters to carry any sort of liquid in any sort of container through the heavily guarded barrier between camp site and festival site. I understand trying to make money in a festival by selling beer on site, but it would be nice if you could take some free water in with you at least. A simple sniff test would tell security if you were smuggling water or vodka right?
Anyway, the good shit now… Music. Loads of it and all fucking brilliant. The Resident Advisor sponsored Big Wheel was the most consistent, throwing big act after big act, all of who lived up to their hype and smashed the best sounding system at the festival.
Joy Orbison was the first thing I got to behold on Friday and it was a great way to warm up my MELT experience. The first hour of his set was steady, pulsing house music but when he started dropping Joy O and Boddika collabs, the crowd exploded and he gave us a cheeky smile through a poker face to show he was enjoying the sunshine and Techno vibes too.
Mykki Blanco is a crazy cat that a friend introduced me to sometime last year. I was blown away by his music video Wavvy and guessed that his live show would be something special. I love being right. His warm-up act was a 6 foot + black man with tits and light up teeth miming along to Cyril Hahn’s version of Say My Name.
It was completely hypnotising and brought the whole crowd down and close ready for Mykki to belt onto stage wearing white silk boxing shorts with matching silk stockings and suspenders. I must admit that halfway through the set I got bored of the music but the show was great. Thumbs up for transvestite gangster rap.
Benjamin Damage continued the creepy but excellent theme later that night by smashing out a set at the Meltselektor stage with a 15 foot tall live-animated face behind him that kept zooming in to someone in the crowd and sneering and pouting at them. Weird and wonderful.
Eats Everything kicked off Saturday night with a proper party set on the Big Wheel stage, constantly keeping the crowds hands in the air and really giving it welly behind the decks. Bambounou kept things rolling back on the Meltselektor before I managed to catch the end of Miss Kittin’s set on the Gemini stage. That’s a one-woman powerhouse right there! Singing, live sampling and triggering as well as changing costume on-stage and she absolutely smashed it. Shame about the poor quality sound on the Gemini stage. It was miles away from the quality of the other big stages…
After a brief tent-based respite and to refuel on cheap camp-site beerage, I headed back onto site to catch Ben UFO do his usual quality, diverse set. I’ll be honest though, I only got there in plenty of time to see Karenn who didn’t disappoint. Blawan and Pariah nailed a heavy, driving and relentless analogue set between them with the former looking like an angry scally who couldn’t wait to punch you in the face with an 808 kick and the former, a preppy school boy who kept smiling and giving the impression he felt lucky to be there… I know I was and that’s the impression I got from most of my mates with one German pal exclaiming, “I’ve never heard music in this way before!!”
Solomon did a lovely wind-down job at 6am on the Big Wheel stage and I was feeling ready for a relax as we walked out of the main site towards the camp. That was until I heard the soothing thud of some breakfast Techno and my new Belgian cohort exclaimed, “Ah yes, Wankelmut is on now!” I’d never heard of the fella but apparently he’s one for dividing opinions in Germany. He did a remix that Techno purists despise as it managed to hit number 1 in the charts.
By the time we got back from the festival, the recording he made of his set had already had 8000 hits which shows the full extent of his reach… Fuck all that though because his set pretty much made my festival. Have a nosey through the mix here.
Bouncing and soaring and banging in all the right places from 7am-9am on Sunday morning he absolutely had me under a spell that lasted a full 12 hours as I danced myself stupid at the most engaging stage in the venue, the Sleepless Floor.
Sleepless does what it says and never rests. It’s situated halfway between the camp site and the main arena and is basically a dusty bowl with an awesome sound system and a massive bar. Apart from those facets it’s also untouched by the hands of security so you can buy cheap beer at the camp-site, and be dancing and drinking inside 10mins without being man-handled through a gate system.
After Wankelmut set up my day, the next 10 hours were spent with a Get Physical records takeover featuring Andhim, Smash TV, Catz & Dogz, MANDY and the Adana Twins before my body said “What the fuck are you doing?! Have a rest will ya?!” I couldn’t find a reasonable argument so took a break with a swim in the man-made lake 2 minutes walk from the Sleepless Floor. Oh, yeah, forgot to mention the whole site is surrounded by water after the mining corp flooded the disused quarry. There’s nothing quite like a swim in the sun-warmed water to sooth the aching muscles of a dance-a-thon.
Once the sun had set I headed back into the arena for the festival closing sets by Maceo Plex and Jamie Jones, both of who managed to squeeze every last drop of energy out of me and keep me dancing until close of play at 2am Monday morning.
I write this while listening to a Wankelmut mix and I’m in the process of making a MELT festival tribute mix featuring the artists I’ve written about so keep your eyes peeled on the website for that. As for the festival itself, I will 100% be going back and I think you should all come with me.