20 Years of Melt

In a finely tuned alchemy of sound, space and authentic energy Melt have mastered the art of enriching human freedom and expression through their epitome of the German festival experience.

Words by Alexia Radkiewicz

This year saw Melt festival embrace the cyclopean iron giants of Ferropolis in one monster sweaty hug as over 250 artists took to 11 stages to celebrate its 20-year-anniversary of unbridled hedonism. In their own words, Melt ‘stands for a new cultural beginning characterized by cosmopolitanism and diversity and once again, they delivered. Transcending boundaries in every sense of the word, the festival provided a bridge through all genres with a lineup spanning from Little Simz, Fred Again.., and Kamaal Williams to DJ Fuckoff, Sherelle and PartiBoi69. 

Photo credit: Kristen Otto

For Melt maestros, this year felt very different. Disgruntled Chinese whispers about the absence of the iconic 24-hour stage, the Sleepless Floor, snowballed into a fully-fledged makeshift sign planted at its replacement stage, Club Floor, reading, ‘THIS IS NOT SLEEPLESS. WE WANT SLEEPLESS BACK’. Clearly, Sleepless aficionados felt the void, missing what can only be described as the chaotic little sister stage which truly stands for itself as a bounded sphere of heterogeneous euphoria where all sense of time and space dissipates into psychedelic rainbows. 

Having said this, the void has been well and truly filled by not one but eight additional stages – the aforementioned Club Floor (mournfully not quite scratching the surface of what the Sleepless Floor once was), Gremmin Beach (the new main stage, nicely situated on the waterfront), Liquid Jungle and Paper stage (bringing a whole new party inhabiting the woods), as well as, Ping Pong (home to big acts soundtracking the sunrise such as Palms Trax b2b Hunee and Peggy Gou).

Photo credit: Kristen Otto

The Radio Stage was an excellent addition, nestled on a secret beach by the campsite it brought a genuine bohemian feel, nicely offsetting the heavier sounds at the main festival site. Radio was special in the sense that it created a sanctuary for powerhouse DJs to reveal their softer side which Moxie showcased beautifully with a harmoniously groovy set in collaboration with Hör Berlin. 

The Roller Disco gets its own paragraph. It feels challenging to articulate in words what happened at the Roller Disco on Saturday night. DJ team, club night and radio show, Club Heart Broken (IG bio: ‘all heart, no brains’), stole the show with a takeover like no other. Anyone passing by the Roller Disco in the final hours of that night would have witnessed a true manifestation of rave – a microcosm of Seventh heaven, a blip in time, encapsulating the rawest form of ecstasy – get a tiny taste of the scene on Malugi’s IG. Multiple chain reactions within bodies, catalysed by souls, led to an unfettered state of being often precluded in everyday life where carousers melted into the opportunity to counter the loss of true self.

Photo credit: Kisten Otto

With the roller rink bursting at the seams, the only route in was to entrust your drink with a willing sweaty stranger and propel yourself over the wall, catapulting straight into the heart of the dance-making the whole experience all the more wonderfully unhinged. Marlon Hoffstadt b2b Malugi provided a 90s acid techno time capsule, including Hoffstadt’s ‘Day n Nite (DJ Daddy Trance Remix)’, Malugie’s ‘Destination Front Left’ and track of the day goes to Benwal’s unreleased remix of Zerzep’s ‘Ella Elle L’a’.

PartoBoi69 at MELT FESTIVAL Photo credit: Kirsten Otto

The meme-centric techno and hi NRG has been brewing for some time (e.g. HMT hardcore from Gabriel Szatan) but it’s the first time we have really seen it in full festival form. However, it goes without saying that it is martial arts expert, rapper, fashion guru, sex icon, and all-round renaissance man, PartiBoi69, who takes the Booty House crown with a swashbuckling set full to the brim with his cult classics – namely ‘K On My D + C’ and a high octane club refix of Prydz’s ‘Pjanoo’. Also, hats off to Daria Kolosova and Etapp Kyle for expertly following such a bizarre act as PB69 despite the crowd clearing. Needless to say that the overall festival bpm has hit an all-time high this year.

Of all its offerings within the festival site, Melt does the hard stuff best. The sound system across all stages (especially at Big Wheel – the festival’s backbone this year) was formidable, definitely the best experience of sound I have ever come across at a festival and it did veritable justice to the calibre of homespun and international acts across the decks. Noteworthy sets go to Yu Su at the Radio stage, Sherelle b2b Tim Reaper and DJ Spit b2b LCY with a brilliant exposition of Jungle and Breaks in the woods. Bradley Zero let loose in the German conditions with a much harder set, a far cry from his accustomed Rhythm Section crate digging. Fred Again.. also relented to the dense Ferropolis air synonymous with the Berlin club sound, dropping unreleased weighty banger, ‘Jungle’. Further mentions go to Sally C, Madam X and Overmono who represented the UK underground scene in full force. Finally, Tirzah’s unguarded and emotionally charged performance was a breath of fresh air on a heavy Sunday. 

Photo credit: Kristen Otto

The intense and unforgiving nature of Melt is not one for the faint-hearted and will have your circadian rhythms askew for weeks, but this is a festival curated by a team who cares deeply about delivering a chasmic and unifying experience. With the lives, we’ve all been living over the past couple of years and after quite the hiatus from human connection, the festival could not be more of a parallel universe to the everyday. In perfect alchemy of sound, space and energy, Melt truly delivers on its mission – to stand for a new cultural beginning characterized by cosmopolitanism and diversity – providing exceptional escapism into the very core of freedom and expression.