Melt! festival is everything you’d expect from an electronic festival not far from Berlin, in the up-and-coming student haven of Leipzig. Infamous for its weekend-long illegal parties that span on into midweek, Leipzig has become Germany’s ‘New Berlin’, an alternative for the too-cool old ravers, disillusioned with the ongoing gentrification in the capital city. And you certainly get that eclectic, electric feel at Melt! Festival. A hidden gem positioned over a deserted lake, with stages that span onto the sprawling makeshift beaches, you enter the festival to find everything from boats to towering cranes and iron structures, leftover from the days when this site was used as a mine, lit up in extraordinary light shows. It would be intimidating if the crowd weren’t so open and friendly. And then there’s the music: Melt! Festival is the place to be if you want to experience the world renowned Berghain DJs, such as Gold Panda and resident DJ Ben Klock, without the exclusivity and notorious door policy of Berlin’s most famous club.
what better way to start the day than jumping around in neon legwarmers while a German woman shouts instructions into the crowd?
We begin our weekend seeing an old favourite of mine: a small but powerful post-electronic band from Leeds called Vessels. With two back-to-back drum kits thrashing beats out alongside a synth and two guitarists, this ensemble could easily be mistaken for a rock band before they start playing their set – but what comes out is a progressive post-electronic uproar that shakes you to your core. They’re loud, but understated, and the perfect start to the weekend.
What comes next is a whirl of acts as we flit from stage to stage until the early hours, but the highlights came in the form of the matchless M83, whose smooth French electro, extensive reverb effects and softly spoken lyrics swept over the crowd like a dream; the minimalistic techno of Gold Panda, whose influences from both Japan and Essex you can hear in his tracks; and Tame Impala, whose trippy psychedelic rock added a welcome mix up to the electronic line-up of the night. A live set from Boys Noize left us heading back to camp after our first night on a high. As their set came to an end at 3am, it was clear the crowd could have gone on for hours more – and maybe they did, with the rest of the acts not finishing until 7am, and the sleepless floor not stopping all weekend, 24/7. We were ready to collapse after the Boys’ set but felt at least that we’d done our first night justice, and headed back to camp ready to recover for the long weekend ahead.
The Saturday kicked off with Rave Aerobics – what better way to start the day than jumping around in neon legwarmers while a woman shouts German instructions into the crowd? Our campsite hosted a medley of entertainment to prepare a site full of hungover campers for the main acts in the evening. From arts and crafts tent: “Creative Crazy Pony” where everyone covered themselves in glitter, to a feminist workshop titled “Love & Heroine and The Slutty Matriarchy”… there was even a Voguing dance performance. Our favourite pick of the campsite entertainment was a full brass band that came into the crowd dancing and playing chart hits on their saxophones, trumpets and marching drums. They led the crowd behind them like pied pipers, playing music and dancing all the way to the festival site, where the first acts were starting in the evening.
That night started off slow with indie-rock band Two Door Cinema Club, but then Peaches blew us away in the Medusa tent. 48 year old Peaches is famous for her sexually explicit lyrics, and her comeback on Saturday night didn’t disappoint. With backing singers dressed up as giant dancing vaginas, and a huge blow up penis filling the entire stage – which she then climbed inside to perform one of her songs – Peaches was an outrageous, hilarious, feminist blur. The other highlight of the night came from festival headliner Deichkind: equally outrageous, German, tongue-in-cheek, electronic hip-hop. Incomparable to any English act I can think of, the lyrics to their songs are normally parodic – Like a rapping, four-piece Lonely Island, but with a massive German following and an incredible stage performance. If I can take anything from this festival, it’s to recommend you check them out and translate their lyrics for a good laugh!
Sunday came and went in a blur, dancing until the sun came up on the sleepless floor, seeing a fabulous transvestite show called ‘Yo Sissy!’ complete with sequins and fireworks, and my personal favourite of the entire weekend: Tiga, performing live. You’ll probably know Tiga best for his two singles ‘Let’s go Dancing’, and ‘Bugatti’, released in the last few years. As the last act on Sunday night, this meant that the rest of the festival seemed preoccupied with seeing Disclosure – but we were in for a treat, getting to see electronic dance artist Tiga in his element, in an intimately small tent, dancing all night until it was time to head back and pack our tents away.