Sustainability, Roller Discos and Liberal Curfews: Melt! Festival 2022 Reviewed | Gigwise | Gigwise

2022-06-25 08:16:29 By : Ms. Jennifer Yang

Melt! Festival continues to be a shining gem of the German festival scene. It welcomes big names and newcomers alike, as well as displaying a wide range of genres.

Like other years, Melt! also makes a statement, aiming to be as eco-friendly as possible. It also brings that German edge with its Pornceptual stage and hidden dark room. 2022 saw Melt! at its finest, this year’s lineup has proven why the festival has survived the threat of the pandemic.

It’s kind of boring, but let’s be real – as Primavera’s disasters have shown us this year, a good festival can be ruined by terrible logistics. The good news is that much of Melt! is very considered; you really feel the festivalgoer is placed first. For starters, everything is cashless – you preload your money and pay for everything through your wristband. There’s top-up stations all around, and once you’re set, it’s easy to pay for food, drinks, etc. 

There’s also actual plumbing at the festival! The toilets are kept pretty clean, and unlike other larger UK festivals, you can easily find a working toilet that isn’t just a literal pit of fucking despair. Unfortunately, the toilets and showers at the camping site do require payment, but you have the option of paying a flat rate for your stay. 

If there’s one drawback, it’s that transport can be quite awkward. Shuttles to the festival are a little sparse from Dessau, as are the buses to and from the festival and the camping grounds. It’s a 25-minute walk, though, which is hardly that accessible – if you’re up for chats at 4.30am, though, then it’s not all that bad. 

A lot of what makes Melt! special is inextricable from its sustainability policies. The camping grounds were pretty clean, and I put that down to the garbage deposit scheme, where you get 5 euros for a generously-filled garbage bag. I also think the festivalgoers here are a lot more respectful – everyone was a little older and seemed to be veterans of the festival, and it made a huge difference. 

There’s also a wide range of food options both at the camping site and the festival itself – there’s great vegan options at both, and a breakfast area at the camping site. However, if you want to save some money, there’s a stall inside FAIRopolis where leftovers from other food stalls and campers are donated. It’s one of the small ways that Melt! is committed to being genuinely sustainable. 

In fact, FAIRopolis is what makes Melt! more than your average music festival. It’s a little area towards the end of the camping site where you can recover from nights out in the shade, or stopping by the various NGOs onsite. There’s also a small stage, where you can participate in yoga, do some life drawing, or listen to various panels. They range from being sober to music as a form of structural change. 

Melt! has always been really good at balancing techno, underground electronic, and indie music, and this year was no exception. Held at Ferropolis, an open-air museum of industrial machines, there’s eleven stages for festivalgoers to revel in. The curfews are blissfully liberal at Melt!, meaning you can party all the way to 5am, ensuring a weekend of debauchery. 

This year, they’ve removed the main stage, and this means you can get a really good view of your favourite artists whilst still getting that quintessential festival feeling of bodies, sweat, and heat. Near every stage is a bar, so you’re never in fear of becoming too dehydrated. We’ve broken down what’s on offer at each stage based on size: 

Gremmin Beach (or, as I kept mistakenly calling it, Gremlin Beach) had the largest capacity for crowds. It was amazing to sink your toes into the sand and rave to Jamie XX or get lost in the oceanic sounds of Caroline Polachek. We also caught Kamaal Williams’ mind-bending set of improv jazz fusion, and Goldlink’s brief mosh-pit. There’s also this incredible area overlooking Gremmin Beach that has pillows, for a more relaxed viewing of the stage. 

Ping Pong stage is a huge circle which you can stand around, and seemed to host a lot of the alternative electronic acts. You’ll get incredible sets from Peggy Gou and Overmono, but also big drag sets such as The House Of, or a ball hosted by Mother Ambrosia Gucci. The Roller Disco is also super fun – it’s a massive roller-skating rink, and everyone can dance inside to other techno acts. I found the acts that embraced its unconventional setting worked better - Malugi and Marlon Hofffstadt’s mix of goofy techno was utterly joyful; DJ Heartstring’s more conventional techno paled in comparison.  

30kv is a smaller stage boxed in by containers, but the acts there were top quality. You could see anyone from Pabllo Vittar’s pop-forró blend, the raw punk energy of Yves Tumour, or the crisp darkwave of Boy Harsher. We also caught the PC Music Takeover that included A.G. Cook, Hannah Diamond, umru, and EASYFUN. The festival ended with Danny L Harle’s insane Harlecore experience, its giant Eurodance sounds almost overwhelming the small stage. Meanwhile, The Big Wheel features its looming namesake machine and hosted many of the other amazing techno acts – we caught Uniiqu3’s Jersey club fun (as well as a fantastic dance circle that formed). 

The Pornceptual Stage hosted movies curated by Berlin sex-positive collective, Pornceptual. Known for their parties, Pornceptual’s movies are supposed to mix queerness, art, and pornography. Some really excelled – a hilarious educational film about trans women was centred by its excellent lead actress – whilst others leaned into really gross stereotypes about Blackness and sexuality. 

Liquid Jungle seemed to be for more R&B and indie acts, such as Cassette Heads ft. Mulay and Meron. The Paper Stage was also very intimate, allowing for up-close and personal raves to acts like Yazzus and Sherelle from the now-defunct 6 Figure Gang, Yung Singh, and MC Yallah and Debmaster. 

It’s a shame that artists don’t seem to promote Melt! as much as it should be, because it’s seriously underrated as a festival. It provides way more extracurricular activities than other festivals, is committed to thinking about ways of being more sustainable, and hosts some top-notch artists for people to enjoy. You’d be hard-pressed to be disappointed by the bags of fun Melt! has on offer.   

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