An Insider’s Guide to the Best Sets at Melt! Festival

Melt! Festival in Germany is a solid bet. Held on a former mining site where 20th-century machinery looms over stages, its bookings run the gamut from underground techno DJs to pop stars, presented on reliably monstrous soundsystems. Ahead of this year’s event, which takes place between July 16 and 19, we enlisted Melt!’s very busy head of booking, Stefan Lehmkuhl, to share some of his personal highlights across all its stages.

Thursday, July 16: Santigold, Hercules & Love Affair and the Trevor Horn Band

We’re all looking forward to Santigold and Hercules & Love Affair on opening night, but I feel I should point out the Trevor Horn Band as I fear some people don’t even know who the fuck that is. He wrote “Video Killed the Radio Star,” “Relax” from Frankie Goes to Hollywood and “Slave to the Rhythm,” just to name a few major hits, and of course he’ll play all those. Be ready for ‘80s vibes and guilty pleasures!

Friday, July 17: Modeselektor, Jamie xx, London Grammar and Nils Frahm

Going through Friday’s line-up involves too many decisions. If I were a visitor, you’d find me here: From 17:00 to 21:45 I’d have my feet in the lake by our beach, listening to full sets from Modeselektor, with a small interruption for South African house vibes from Culoe de Song on the Big Wheel stage. Then I’d catch Jamie xx at sunset before running over to Years & Years at 21:45 on the Gemini stage. Calm down with London Grammar on the Mainstage at 23:30, stay for Nils Frahm and finish off with a Bonobo DJ set back at the beach.

Saturday, July 18: The Black Madonna, Lena Willikens, David August and Kylie Minogue

Saturday is full of legends. I’d start my day around 14:00 at the Sleepless floor with The Black Madonna and Lena Willikens. Then I’d head to see David August live and XXXY at Big Wheel from 19:00 to 22:00. Unfortunately that would mean missing Cakes da Killa, but he’s playing in Berlin in two weeks time. Of course, I’d catch the legendary Giorgio Moroder and Kylie Minogue on the Mainstage around midnight. Damn, it clashes with Siriusmodeselektor—I almost hate myself for programming this. Sven Väth is a good choice for the sun coming up toward the end of his set. He’s never played Melt! before so I cant miss his debut.

Sunday, July 19: Ibeyi and Ellen Allien

Sundays always include some sure shots for my personal top Melt! moments, like the annual matinee slot at 4 p.m. when all stages (except the Sleepless floor) focus on rather quiet bands. After catching Jose Gonzalez and Rhye in past years, I’m looking forward to seeing Ibeyi follow Kings of Convenience this year. The other important moment for me is Ellen Allien’s annual closing set. We’ve done this for the last ten years, and this year she’ll play a four-hour set.

Selfishly, I like really getting involved with Sleepless floor after the headliners have played and nothing really can go wrong anymore. You’ll find me somewhere there until Ellen hands the reigns over to Steve Rachmad at 6 a.m. I’d also recommend that everyone check out Damian Lazarus & the Ancient Moons for sunset around 21:30. I saw his first live set in Ibiza this year, and it was fantastic.

Header image: Robert Winter