Melt! festival 2010
There's no way to step into the Melt! festival grounds and not be suitably impressed. Taking place in a former strip mining operation, now an open-air industrial machine museum, the stages are nestled into and between massive steel structures. It feels like being surrounded by dinosaur skeletons rising from the dead... brought to life by the rhythm of the music pounding from every stage, perhaps? The mood is enhanced as night falls; lasers are lifted, illuminating the equipment and the gigantic disco balls hanging off them, the grounds take on an eerie new life. Ferropolis creates a truly unique atmosphere, strengthening the already impressive lineup of electronic and indie rock bands featured this year.
FRIDAY: Day 1.
I would say that it'd be easier just to comment on the best DJs/bands I managed to see each day, but for Friday this is absolutely impossible. While the festival started off brilliantly with the usual crazy stage antics of Bonaparte and a fantastically funky set by Matias Aguayo, I was soon drawn to the Desparados beach stage. Located right next to the lake with a sandy beach in front of the stage, this was the perfect place to spend a hot summer evening.
The line-up didn't hurt either. I began theevening there with the collaboration of Henrik Schwarz and Jesse Rose, Black Rose. The duo interwove jazz, soul, and heavy bass-lines into refreshing and wonderfully danceable house music. Next up was Four Tet, whose hypnotically heart-wrenching tracks were appropriately accompanied by the bolts and flashes of a lightning storm in the distance. If I thought things couldn't get any better, dupstepper Mala then swung into his set, escorting the crowd into the darkness with haunting and heavy beats.
Despite the simultaneous sets of DJs/groups I was interested in seeing, such as the Foals, Ben Klock, Jonsi, Delphic, Lindstrom & Christabelle, etc, I only managed to pull myself away from the stage to see a couple songs by Groove Armada in between sets. Since I was immediately treated to "Superstylin'", I was more than pleased with the GA experience and happily returned to my beach/musical paradise.
SATURDAY: Day 2.
Saturday was full of big names, and while I jumped around a bit taking in all that Melt! had to offer, there was one set that stood out and above anything else I heard the entire weekend. First though, the secondary highlights: Friendly Fires shone with unlimited energy and charm; their live act is really top notch. Blood Red Shoes absolutely rocked the main stage; Jamie Lidell gave blue-eyed-soul a good name; Hercules & Love Affair proved his skills in arranging and delivering really great vocal electronica; and later in the evening Chromeo brought the 80's back in full swing.
Despite these great performances, they didn't even come close to the power and genius of DJ Shadow. He started his set late and much of his equipment had apparently gone missing, but this did nothing to stop him from slamming the crowd into immediate and nonstop audio and visual hyperdrive. Shadow scratched and mashed his way through both new and old material, including several tracks off Endtroducing..., throwing the crowd into breakbeat/drum and bass convulsions (yeah, sorry, I was too busy dancing to take pictures...). It was almost difficult, through all the dancing, to pay full attention to the visuals projected behind him. However, it was more than worth it to glance at the stage now and then as the beautifully orchestrated projections raced through images of circuit boards, electronic equipment and various city scenes, intensifying the audio experience. The ridiculous tempo of the music, and the fact that it had completely taken over every part of my brain, helped make the set speed quickly to a close. Announcing that he had received a two-minute-warning, Shadow fired up samples of Organ Donor, and then suddenly everything was over. Absolutely brilliant and fulfilling, I walked around with an astounded grin on my face the rest of the night. Thank you DJ Shadow!!
SUNDAY: Day 3.
Sunday was a much quieter day, two of the stages were already closed and those that were open featured rather short sets and long breaks without music. Kings of Convenience were one of the first to kick off the day, and what a fantastic start it was! Øye and Bøe obviously really enjoy being on stage and strike an excellent balance between their low-key harmonies and their energetic inter-song bantering and joking.
Next, Martina Topley-Bird, oddly accompanied by a ninja drummer/guitar player, showed off her solo work before she joined Massive Attack later in the night. Her unique voice added depth to her songs as she moved between soft and easy acoustic tones and louder, harsher, electronic elements. Broken Bells energetically closed my Melt! musical experience. Their set nicely exhibited their catchy indie pop, but at the same time left me yearning to see them play in a smaller venue rather than the massive main stage. Since I had to leave the festival a bit early, I had to leave the experience of seeing Goldfrapp, Massive Attack, and Black Mountain to my imagination. In the recesses of my brain, they, too, put on a spectacular show. ;-)
Written and Photographed by Brit-Maren Schjeide