Ferropolis, a destination which spends the majority of the year completely desolated - that is until ravers from all over the world gather in their thousands to embark on a wondrous three day journey into the heart of Melt!.
The abandoned industrial estate might seem like an unusual, albeit slightly dangerous place to host Europe’s biggest techno festival, but when a few five foot disco balls transcend into the skies, held up by the ancient cranes, suddenly it all seems to fall into place.
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It begins like any three day bender. The general atmosphere is blanketed by a warm fuzz of excitement. Everyone is fresh, and undoubtedly the cleanest and most well rested they will be all weekend. The night before, the Sleepless Floor had already hosted Fatboy Slim to kickstart the festivities so there is a possibility that some festival goers have already done their first all-nighter…
By 7.16PM, it’s easy to determine who have been up all day already. The crowd at Red Bull’s Selektor Stage is split down the middle, with most having already reached the stage of more alcohol than blood in their system. You either give up now or you party through, and Lil Silva is here to help with that. His concoction of electronic beats mixed up with funk elevate chart hits to new heights, leaving you in good hands for the next hour. His carefully curated mix of 2008 chart toppers welcomes you to Melt Festival’s rendition of ‘Annie Mac hour’.
Onto the Big Wheel Stage and you've reached what Melt is all about, provided to you by Johanna Schneider. A thumping continuous beat, hefty smoke machine, and plenty of happy festival goers make for the perfect warm up for the night’s big act, and is the pinnacle of the all-inclusive German techno scene, providing the masses with a taster of what else is to come.
Glass Animals take to the main Melt Stage next, honing in an impressive crowd from the get go. Opening up with the eery, fast-talking, 36 second track ‘Premade Sandwiches’ they seem to be playing their cards right, especially with going into the incredulously catchy ‘Life Itself’. Melters are fully engaged by the time ‘Poplar St’ plays, perhaps because everybody loves Red Hot Chilli Peppers and this track sounds spookily similar to ‘Under The Bridge’…?
Alas, the respect is built back with ‘The Other Side of Paradise’, proud, fun, energetic sounds you can feel as the bass thumps hit your heartbeat. Pyrotechnics explode into the vast and empty space above, captivating you until nightfall. There is surely no better place to be while the sun starts to disappear behind the lake in order to welcome the moon to the party, just in time for the main course…
M.I.A. reaches the Melt Stage and the skies open up, almost as an omen. But with all the bad gal realness she possesses, no one takes a single notice. If anything, it adds to the atmosphere, especially as the stage’s bright lights project down on the crowd. During ‘Paper Planes’ you can see rows and rows of gun fingers pointed upwards to the unforgiving sky as everyone cocks their imaginary guns and shoots.
A genre that some people might be wary about at such a festival managed to captivate all the various nationalities - you can hear the light-hearted, broken English everywhere around you as the crowd echo back “live fast, die young, bad girls do it well!”
Unsurprisingly, the crowd were most beguiled by songs ‘Borders’ and ‘Go Off’ from 2016’s AIM. The electronic elements of these songs completely shudder through the speakers and vibrate throughout the crowd. Maybe one of the best things about this festival being so entirely in the middle of nowhere is there is absolutely no sound limit, which only does justice upon justice to an act such as M.I.A.
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Kiddy Smile embraced the Red Bull Stage, feathers and all. With voluptuous back up singers/dancers, this act is a true homage to the New York club kids with a touch of Parisian Glam - and the crowd are living for it. With an amazing cover of Everything But The Girl’s ‘Missing’, the crowd are fully grooving to everything that was right about the 90’s.
This was the perfect warm up for the angelic tones that are up next from Sampha back over at the main stage. His voice truly is as beautifully melancholic as everyone says, and if it’s possible, sounds even better live. This element makes up for the fact that he still seems a bit misplaced at Melt. Aside from ‘Reverse Faults’ - performed to its absolute pre-eminent state, and of course crowd favourite ‘Blood On Me’. Still, his stunning voice and the glittering keys hang over the audience as a sort of calm before the storm.
The Red Bull Stage by this point is quickly proving to be one of the best stages of the weekend. Zebra Katz ruled the stage next, oozing with the original grimy, sex appeal you now hear from artists such as Mykki Blanco. His rumbling, raspy tones vibrate through to your very core, pulling in wanderers-by and hypnotising them to come forth.
By the time Zebra Katz performs Icona Pop’s track ‘My Party’ - who he features on - this little stage has finally reached capacity and welcomes in the audience it deserves. Crowds doubling in size since Friday and upholding every quality you'd expect from a stage which is sponsored by an energy drink.
Now to the Medusa Stage, where New Yorkers Hercules & Love Affair combine all the best elements of 70’s funk and 00’s techno, a combination that leaves you wanting to dance the night away. The upbeat tempo and jittering beat prove that the party is only just starting at midnight, and intends to go on and on…
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This day is all about one act, and one act only. Enter Die Antwoord, the most erratic, confusing, and strangely arousing act to ever grace the Melt Stage with their presence. The beauty of Yolanda and Ninja is at no point throughout can you decide whether they are in actual fact good or not. They fully embrace the crowd’s love of industrial Eurodance, and give us every BPM range from 160 way into the 200’s.
‘Baby’s on Fire’ and their unique rendition of ‘Raging Zef Boner’ are both crowd favourites, surprisingly proving at one point that Ninja can hold a note. The slightly off-key rapping combined with the extreme pyrotechnics, fire, confetti and everything else exploding from the stage makes you feel like your head is about to split, but their energy and the familiar sounds of Yolandi’s desperately high pitched voice carry you through.
The whole thing is a beautiful, weird, sexual mess which perfectly describes them and their sound, and a perfect way to end such a crazy 72 hours. Thank you melt, from the bottom of our techno-fuelled hearts.
Now, for some sleep…
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Words: Laura Copley