An industrial fairground
Melt! Festival 2012

After fourteen years Melt! has established itself as major player on the festival circuit, drawing an international crowd to the industrial graveyard of Ferropolis, near Dessau in Germany.

Most festival-goers battled with wind and rain to erect tents before taking the short journey to the site dubbed “the city of iron“. Grey skies painted a severe backdrop to the haunting skeletons of industrial machinery, a reminder that the site was a working mine until 1991.

Rain cleared for Germany’s own Markus Kavka on the Big Wheel Stage hosted by Resident Advisor. Kavka played his trademark minimal techno to a largely fancy-dress clad crowd of early revellers.

The main stage was opened by The Vaccines bringing East London’s indie rock vibes to Ferropolis and later the covered Gemini stage welcomed pint-sized pop-star, Little Boots.

However, Melt! comes in to its own at night when industry and hedonism are smelted, with disco balls dangling from intimidating relics of Ferropolis’s past. This is when it is worth taking the twenty minute walk from the campsite to the stages. As you round the corner of the Gremminer lake the lit site resembles an industrial fairground.

Caribou marked the onset of the evening with an energetic live set rewarding the crowd with a finale of hit song Odessa. Claude Von Stroke lured a healthy portion of fans away from the main stage with a mix that leant more to techno, perhaps a nod to nearby capital Berlin.

There was a mass exodus down to the lakeside stage as revellers braved tough conditions to get their next dance fix from stage curators, Modeselektor.

Knife Party, brainchild of Pendulum’s Rob Swire and Gareth McGrillen, drew a strong crowd to the covered Gemini stage. Anyone who thought this was down to the driving rain was proved wrong when the hordes dispersed as soon as the duo left the stage.

The highlight of the night was Switch who slowly tempted festival-goers back to Gemini with a genre-defying set. He roused an already lively crowd as he finished with some of the latest Moombahton rhythms.

As the second evening kicked off Buraka Som Sistema transformed the Gemini stage in to a dancehall, the crowd completely under their control as they bounced along to party tunes.

Benga took no prisoners when he followed up with an aggressive bassline attack but it was festival-favourites Modeselektor who enticed a large portion of Melt! goers to the main stage with a mix of classic tracks and new material. ‘German Clap’ was a clear crowd pleaser.

Laurent Garnier’s new L.B.S project combined his legendary DJ skills with live elements from Benjamin Rippert on keys and Stephan Dri on drum machines. The trio played to an ever swelling crowd as the sun came up over the site.

The walk back to the campsite from the Melt! festival ground revealed the Sleepless Floor, a never-ending techno oasis that ensured anyone not ready for bed could continue the party through to the end of the event.

Back at the site The Whitest Boy Alive eased the main stage in to Sunday evening with a relaxed dance-inspired indie set. However, it was next door under the roof of the Gemini stage where the evening really started with Gesaffelstein followed by Brodinski, delivering two and a half hours of noisy techno and increasingly heavy house.

Flux Pavilion tested the Gemini sound system to its limits as he pounded out monumental dubstep bass lines to a slightly younger crowd.

Melt! did not give up easily as the festival drew to a close. The main site shut at two but the organisers still had three-day highlight, local hero and Melt! regular Ellen Allien tempting the crowd out of the gates and over to the Sleepless Floor. A tightly packed crowd of revellers refused to let go of the three-day event as they swayed, bounced and shuffled to haunting, experimental electro.

Words by Anna Mitchell
Photo by Simon Casey

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