After a hellish travel day with three missed connecting flights sandwiched by a canceled flight and a wrong bus, I finally made it to Berlin, Germany. Besides an endless love affair for the city, I was here for one reason: to check attend a music festival abroad off my dusty bucket list
This wasn’t my first festival rodeo. There’s a nice little mason jar on my desk stocked to the rim with retired festival wristbands from jaunts across the United States. But up until recently, my longest music festival trek was to Summer Camp, just south of Chicago. Granted it was a grueling 15 hour drive in a clunker of an old Pontiac from our home in Florida, but it was still in the good ole U.S. of A.
My time had come to venture out into the festival lands of the unknown – Europe. Just two hours south of Berlin, Melt Festival marked the spot. How Melt of all festivals was chosen for this though, I wish I could tell you. Among a conversation with a friend, who’d hopped the pond to get her masters abroad, on which European festival we (along with her newly acquired band of Irish lads, plus one Canadian) should tackle, Melt was thrown into the mix.
The lineup was solid, the venue looked dope, and it was close to my favorite city in Europe – looking at you Berlin. So it was settled, to Melt we would go. I booked a ticket and off I went to the land of currywurst and techno. And it was magical.
Except one slight problem lingered ahead – I was totally under-prepared. Actually, under-prepared is a vast understatement. Who would have thought festivals abroad (especially those in Germany) are in fact, nothing like festivals at home? Clearly not me. Although it didn’t hinder the overall experience, I was naive in my preparations. Such as opting to pack three outfits a day when in reality, I wore the same five articles of clothing over the course of the entire three-day festival.
To prevent any of our lovely readers from making the same misguided choices, let’s briefly go over my rookie mistakes:
Mistake #1: I’m the dumbass who brought a heavy suitcase on wheels to a festival made of nothing but grass and dirt. I think you can figure out the problems that thus incurred.
Mistake #2: Since it was a camping festival, we thought we could rent all of our gear there. HA, wrong. Relying on a festival vendor’s English version website, our plan was to rent everything we’d need (tents, awnings, chairs) onsite. Turns out their translation of “book” meant “to purchase” and once we realized this, we were left scrambling a week before take-off purchasing all the necessary camping gear.
Mistake #3: Thinking the awning that marked our campsite was white the entire weekend, yet still somehow managed to get lost trying to find my way back to camp…Every. Single. Time. Turns out our awning was black. Know what your campsite looks like people.
Mistake #4: Underestimating the power of a German music festival.
What exactly does that mean? It means I have never in my life been to a music festival quite like Melt. Seeing as you’ve come to Music Festival Wizard, you probably know a thing or two about festivals and the atmosphere that follows. Most likely you have a set of friends who are your go-to party people. Whenever you feel like having a good time these are the first folks you hit up. Now take those friends, multiply them until you reach about 20,000, and you get Melt Festival.
Regardless of what festival you attend in the U.S., you’ll undoubtedly see a myriad of teeny boppers in jeweled bras and boob glitter, security at every corner, passed out wooks who can’t handle themselves, and groups of frat bros with cut off jorts. Yes, yes this is an actual thing across U.S. college campuses and making their way inside festivals each year.
And then you go to a place like Melt. In a far off land of ridiculously good looking Germans mostly all adhering to an effortlessly cool normcore style. A land where none of the aforementioned demographic exists. In fact, during my three nights at Melt I failed to see even just one of the above. No security, no frat bros, no jewel encrusted push-up bras. I could cry it was so beautifully refreshing.
Besides a stellar festival audience, Melt decked out their already ridiculously awesome venue to heightened limits. To understand what it’s like to attend a festival set to the backdrop of an open-air industrial machine museum, you might imagine the set of Mad Max. But instead of brutal fighting, there’s people battling techno, indie, dance, pop-rock, alternative and then more techno.
However, Melt didn’t stop there to ensure its venue was top notch. They set out additional stages along the lake that could only be accessed through haphazard entrances between trees and brush lit up by art installations. Like I said, the place was magical.
Unlike many festivals stuffed with vendors trying to empty your wallet selling everything under the sun, Melt catered every aspect toward the overall music festival experience – emphasis on music. Besides a thrift store near the camping grounds, the only vendors were for the essentials: food and alcohol. However there were a couple craft areas, for you know, those having artistic visions.
From being set inside a venue that included its own lake for swimming, amped up by incredible art installations, and a stellar lineup geared towards keeping people on their feet, Melt was an experience unlike any other. Although it took me a solid week to recover, there are few places I’d go back to in a heartbeat and Melt Festival is one of them.