Reviewed: Melt Festival 2019
From the 18th to the 22nd of July, Melt Festival descended on Ferropolis for its annual open-air festival in the German ‘City of Iron’. Situated on a peninsula surrounded by beaches and forestry, in the middle of the scenic Gremminer lake, Melt Festival 2019 took over the whole area. With most stages dedicated to electronic music, and some pop, grime and indie thrown in, Melt Festival 2019 had something for everyone throughout the weekend.
Melt’s caption this year was ‘Melt Knows No Borders’, emphasising the festival’s focus on diversity and inclusivity. Melt Festival 2019 offered emotional support in an area called “Panama”, an environment where an awareness team were there to care of you “in the way you wanted to be cared for”. Festival-goers could ask “Where is Panama?” at any of the bars, and a member of the Melt Crew would direct them to the Panama area. The emotional wellbeing of festival attendees is often overlooked by organisers, especially in large scale events, but Melt was sure to cater to their festival-goers.
The festival had 9 different stages, all of which had a completely different vibe and set up. The Sleepless stage was the first stage to open, commencing with Sally C at 8pm on Thursday evening at the opening party, and running constantly throughout until Monday at 12pm. The stage was situated beside the beach, featuring a sandy dance floor, ideal for kicking your shoes off and dancing barefooted.
The Melt stage was the main stage, which hosted Stormzy, Skepta, Modeselektor and Bon Iver to name a few. The stage had an amphitheatre set up, with seating tiers around the outside, meaning you could enjoy the music standing or seated. Lasers pointed into the sky from all angles, and fireworks crackled above the stage during headline act performances.
The Big Wheel stage was surrounded by machinery and a had a grungey atmosphere. The DJ booth was on the ground at crowd level, giving it the atmosphere of an intimate nightclub but without a roof. The Gremmin beach stage was right by the water, meaning it was the perfect place to bring your towel and listen to some music while you went for a swim, or dance in the sand. The Forest stage was situated in a woodland area, beside a smaller beach, surrounded with lots of comfy seats. This was a relaxed and somewhat quieter stage, good for getting away from the madness of the bigger stages.
Sensi stage, also in the forest, was a stage curated by Lotenheim, a collective of innovators, artists, activists, DJs and more, featuring a cosy and homely stage made of crocheted blankets. Melt also catered for the not-so-mainstream, with the Pansy stage, hosting drag shows and drag DJs playing everything from Rihanna ‘Pon de Replay’ to Peggy Gou ‘Makes you Forget’. Melt also collaborated with Berlin-based sex-positive party “Pornceptual” to create an experience which showcased performances from your wildest erotic dreams.
The festival also collaborated with Highsnobiety and Nike to host two further stages.
Melt also offered a wide selection of food vendors, ranging from fish & chips, a smoothie bar alongside lots of vegan and vegetarian options, breakfast options, coffee stalls and ice cream. A really sustainable festival, which tries to ensure a minimum environmental impact on the surroundings. They tried to prevent waste at all opportunities, including putting a 1euro deposit on all cups which was really refreshing to see.
After arriving late on Thursday night and erecting a tent in the dark (which I do not recommend), we headed to the pre-party on the Sleepless stage. The festival looked like an absolute fairground from afar, as the lasers and lights attached to the huge mid-20th century industrial structures reflected in the Gremminer lake. Arriving to the sound of Bonobo playing his own track ‘Cirrus’ was the perfect entrance. Bonobo played a mix curated with relaxed and ambient songs, including a remix of George Fitzgerald’s ‘Burns’, and slowly building the pace to upbeat songs, which culminated in Mella Dee’s ‘Techno Disco Tool’. Bonobo was followed by KiNK who featured his track ‘Perth’ in his set, and then Mano Le Tough took to the stage for the sunrise set. The Sleepless stage was well and truly broken in.
Friday saw hard-hitting techno take over the Big Wheel stage, featuring a live set from Stephen Bodzin, followed by Dr. Rubenstein b2b Tijana T, and closing with Helena Hauff, bringing her acid house and Detroit techno sound to the crowd.
Elderbrook played the Gremmin Beach stage on Friday afternoon, and we caught him perform ‘Coca Cola’, his most popular track, which gave me a new found appreciation for the song. Elderbrook’s vocals were flawless, and when hearing the first few lyrics, the crowd flocked to the stage to dance.
Techno DJ and producer duo Modeselektor closed the Melt stage on Friday night, with their live set and heavy sound. The pair were joined on stage by Flohio, to perform ‘Wealth’ from their latest album. Modeselektor also played a few other tracks off their most recent album, including ‘Who’ (ft. Tommy Cash).
The Big Wheel stage on Saturday opened with Moxie, followed by Leon Vynehall. Early on Friday evening we got a notification on the Melt app that thunder storms may arise and to take care, but thinking nothing of it, we continued our night in the Forest stage with Tornado Wallace and his groovy sound, eagerly anticipating Tom Trago’s set. However, clouds quickly started to form and strong winds started to pick up, next thing a voice over the tannoy started telling everyone to evacuate the festival. Security guards started escorting people out, as the thunderstorm suddenly hit. The lights went off, the lasers stopped and a swift operation to evacuate a 20,000 strong crowd came immediately as a dust storm arose from the sand, and all bars/food vendors shut within minutes of the wind picking up. We made our way toward the campsite as instructed, taking shelter in a portaloo, where we could see the lightning strike the enormous metal structures.
When we arrived back to the campsite, a rave had been initiated in the toilet block, with the lights flickering in time to the beat, and Gala’s ‘Freed From Desire’ pumping through a speaker. All acts were postponed two hours, and the festival was reopened at 12am, which was conveniently announced via the Melt Festival 2019 app. The Melt team also offered support for anyone whose tent was affected by the storm – which I thought was a really nice touch.
Mall Grab kicked off the Big Wheel stage after the festival was reopened, with a set which can only be described as the storm after the storm. With absolutely no warm up, the hard hitting set which Mall Grab delivered on the Big Wheel stage was pounding from the get go, and was exactly what everyone needed to get them back into the mood to dance.
A last minute fill in for A$AP Rocky, Stormzy took to the Melt stage at 2am on Saturday night, and put on a really enjoyable and lively show. An extremely talented artist, with really impressive vocals, Stormzy had the crowd bouncing. He closed the main stage on Saturday night with his first UK Top 40 track, ‘Shut up’.
Four Tet closed Gremmin beach stage with the sunrise set from 3am-5am. Four Tet had no lights, no lasers and no visuals on stage, just the music and the sunrise. He curated an ethereal atmosphere through his impressive mixing and track selection skills. Four Tet was definitely the best set of the entire weekend, playing an all encompassing mix of both his own production, such as a remix of Destiny’s Child -‘Hold My Breath’ and his own remix of ‘Only Human’, alongside carefully selected tracks from other artists. He left the crowd feeling aurally satisfied.
Sunday saw the Hessle Audio crew (Ben UFO, Pangea, Pearson Sound) take over the sleepless stage, alongside Shanti Celeste, under the beating sunshine.
The Black Madonna brought her ‘We Still Believe’ party series to close the Big Wheel stage on Sunday, featuring Octo Octa, Jennifer Cardini and The Black Madonna herself closing the stage.
To summarise Melt Festival 2019 – It was a relaxed and chilled, yet upbeat and electronically music focussed festival, with a strong emphasis on both the music and the physical appearance of the festival site. It’s clear that Melt Festival is created and sustained by people who know exactly what partygoers want at a festival. Using the industrial setting to their advantage, Melt Festival looks into the finer details of what a festival should have, and they were not overlooked.
When it comes to music and diversity, Melt knows no borders!
Dates for Melt festival 2020 have been announced as 17-20th July. You can buy your early bird tickets here from 1st September!