The first thing you need to know about Melt! Festival is that it is quite simply beautiful. The four day event takes place at the unique location of Ferropolis, a former iron mine that is now host to a huge lake and for a few days of the year crowds of techno, EDM and indie pop lovers. Imposing machinery scattered across the site from former mining days gives the festival an unusual aesthetic, separating the seven stages and occasionally shooting bursts of fire into the evening sky.
Melt! is one of Germany’s biggest festivals and the line up caters accordingly to a huge range of tastes, from techno hero Marcel Dettmann to Kylie Minogue. The music doesn’t really get going until the evening and then continues long into the night which gives you plenty of time to spend the day swimming in the lake, recovering from last night’s adventures by napping in the woods or simply getting down to some serious day drinking.
Of course, if you still haven’t had enough dancing by the time the main stage acts finish at around 5am then there’s always the 24 hour sleepless floor where you can dance to some oustanding House and Techno music from Saturday night to Monday morning. This is the only stage that can be accessed without an official festival wrist band and has a distinctly more relaxed feel - almost like a miniature open air festival within Melt!.
Stand out performers this year were by far Ibeyi. The twin sisters from Cuba take great inspiration from their heritage, singing in both English and Yoruba. Their unique on stage chemistry creates an intimate atmosphere that is bound to cause goosebumps whatever the size of the arena and their interaction with the crowd only increases this sensation. Having seen Ibeyi perform at Glastonbury previously, I knew this performance was going to be something special but they did not fail to astound me a second time. Their live cover of Jay Electronica’s ‘Better in tune with the infinite’ is not to be missed. At the end of their set the sisters called upon on the crowd to help them sing ‘River’ which we very willingly did and the atmosphere this created left the audience unanimously feeling that we’d been part of something special.
Jamie XX’s two hour set at the lake side stage was a very relaxed start to Thursday evening. The dancing confetti covered crowd created an almost unbearably summery atmosphere which I escaped for a moment to find refreshing contrast in Marcel Dettmanns more energetic set at the Big Wheel Stage but of course returned later to hear ‘Higher’ and capture that perfectly clichéd summer festival moment.
In contrast, the young London based band Gengahr unfortunately had to play to an almost empty audience due to the heavy rain. Nevertheless, what I heard from underneath the steps where I was sheltering with some other soggy fans reaffirmed just how talented they are.
Alt-J drew a huge crowd on Sunday but once again failed to recreate their studio sound live - although this could in part be due to the sound system at Melt! which in general was a disappointment whether due to the speakers themselves, proximity of the stages or the incredibly quick turnovers which perhaps don’t allow for thorough sound checks. If this was improved, Melt! would surely become a serious competitor for one of the best festivals in Europe.
Giorgio Moroder’s uninspiring chart filled set perhaps proved just how talented he is at creating popular music but nevertheless failed to be of any interest. I ended the festival with an upbeat performance from Toro Y Moi in the Intro Tent that eventually had the crowd dancing and leaving them wanting more.
Melt! 2015 had a formidable line up (though you needed to be able to dance well into the next morning to hear it) and the proximity of the stages meant drifting between clashing acts was a breeze. The festival’s cater for all approach means it doesn’t quite have a clear sense of identity of what it wants to be, but if you’re looking for a few days of dancing in the sun to some current music then its location is almost impossible to beat. The overall atmosphere of Melt! is one of relaxed hedonism. There are no political debates or arts and crafts tents here, just music and dancing. And that’s quite nice really.
by Helen Lister