Festival Guide: M.I.A’s Meltdown Festival

Name: Meltdown Festival

Where: Southbank Centre, London

When: 9th – 18th June 2017

Headliners: M.I.A, Young Fathers, Soulwax, Afrikan Boy

Also Featuring: J.D. Samson, Crystal Castles, Mykki Blanco, Princess Nokia, Young M.A

A Brief History: Southbank Centre’s annual Meltdown festival has been running since 1993 and each year invites a different cultural figure to act as director of the event and pick the performers of their choosing. Previous directors include: Elvis Costello, David Bowie, Patti Smith, David Byrne, Lee Scratch-Perry, Morrissey, Massive Attack, Jarvis Cocker, Nick Cave, Scott Walker, John Peel, Ornette Coleman, Richard Thomson, Laurie Anderson, Yoko Ono, Ray Davies, Guy Garvey and Anohni (previously Antony). Performers have included musicians, artists, filmmakers and comedians, such as Jeff Buckley, Nina Simone, Ivor Cutler, Radiohead, Grace Jones, Sir Michael Palin, Damon Albarn, Sir Les Paterson, Nancy Sinatra and The Master Musicians of Jajouka. Meltdown has a reputation for staging one-off performances and collaborations by legendary artists.

To Sum Up: If you’re looking for a festival with a difference, Meltdown may be the one for you. No fields, no mud, proper toilets… And, most importantly, an eclectic array of a huge range of artists, including rap and hip hop, and spoken word and electro artists. From Friday 9th June, running through until Sunday 18th, and curated by the legendary M.I.A, there will be a huge number of individual events to choose from. With tickets sold on a single event basis, you can dip in and out of whatever you fancy, and go to as many – or few – of the fantastic options as you so desire.

How To Get There: Ideal for Londoners who will be able to head back to the luxury of their own home at the end of each day, but also extremely handy for out-of-towners, Meltdown takes place in the stunning location of The Southbank Centre, ideally situated within minutes of Waterloo station. You can also catch the Northern Line to Embankment underground, or a huge number of buses that stop on Waterloo bridge, two minutes walk away.

Gigslutz Top Tip: So much to choose from! Obvious choices include catching an incredible set from festival organiser M.I.A closing the festival on 18th June, or dance music maestros Soulwax performing their new album in full on 10th June. But I’m also particularly excited about a night of Riot Grrrl rap and party music from US rapper and queer pioneer Mykki Blanco alongside musician and activist J.D.Samson ( Le Tigre, MEN) – if you want to dance the night away to the positive vibes of electro-feminist-punk sounds, then this will certainly be the place to be on 17th June!

Memorable Moments: Just some highlights from over the 24 years of Meltdown’s existence include The New York Dolls reuniting for Morrissey; Jeff Buckley playing his final UK show at Elvis Costello’s curated event, and the legendary Patti Smith performing Horses in full for her festival.

What We Said Last Year: Last year, I was utterly blown away by the simply magical, cinematic splendour of Sheffield crooner Richard Hawley, and also enjoyed a beautiful, intimate set from Bristol’s This Is The Kit.

Did You Know? Nick Cave, Grace Jones and Pete Doherty sang Disney songs together with Jarvis Cocker at his curated Meltdown festival in 2007.

How To Get Tickets: You can find tickets to all individual events from the Southbank Centre’s website.


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Mari Lane

Mari Lane

Editor, London. Likes: Kathleen Hanna, 6Music, live music in the sunshine. Dislikes: Sexism, pineapples, the misuse of apostrophes.