This year’s Meltdown kicks off today, and it looks great. The ten-day festival at the Southbank Centre has a superb line-up of big names and underground legends, including Neneh Cherry, Chrissie Hynde, Josh Homme, ESG and DJ Harvey, plus plenty of new musical talent. For more highlights of the line-up, read our interview with series curator James Lavelle. A few of the big gigs are sold out, but even if you haven’t got tickets yet there’s still plenty to get involved with at Meltdown – and some of it won’t cost you a thing.
First of all, throughout the series there’s a handful of free gigs. Today (June 13), Mercury-nominated post-jazz prodigies Polar Bear will be fusing jazz, rock, electronica and more with maximum energy in the Clore Ballroom. (Make sure you turn up early, as doors open at 5.30pm and it’ll probably be busy.) Then next Friday (June 20) you can catch mistily gothic singer-songwriter and talented pianist Dooks playing a free lunchtime show, or Machines and These Ghosts making experimental electronic and rock sounds as part of an NX Records showcase in the evening.
Other free Meltdown events include Urban Archaeology, an exhibition about Lavelle’s record label Mo’Wax (June 13 to June 22); Ableton Push Playground, a chance to mess about with the music tech company’s latest graphic synthesizer (June 14, 15 and 21); and Voicelab’s Club Classics Big Sing, a family-friendly sing-along session of ’80s and ’90s dance anthems with the Southbank’s choir.
But we’re most looking forward to an event on the last day of the festival. At Sunday Come Down you’ll find DJs including James Lavelle and Don Letts spinning on the Southbank Centre’s terraces, plus an indoor performance of Jeremy Deller’s Acid Brass project: a full brass band from Manchester performing arrangements of classic house music. ‘It’s about family fun – people can come for free and hang out for a kinda carnival vibe,’ says Lavelle. Sounds good to us.