Meltdown festival, in your photos

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Thursday, June 15, 2017 - 13:47

From its very conception this year's Meltdown, was always set to be like no other. Taking the reigns, M.I.A. promised to deliver a festival that pushed boundaries. And the curator hasn't disappointed, offering up a Meltdown that’s crackled with life and combined pulsating hip-hop with poignant installations.

We saw people of all ages and backgrounds descend on Southbank Centre for the festival, and share their experience via #MeltdownFest. So to showcase some of what went on at Meltdown, it seemed only apt to do so through the images of those who were here to experience it.


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For the duration of Meltdown, Southbank Centre underwent a distinct makeover, decked out with M.I.A.’s distinct iconography and colourways - a look which also gave up plenty of opportunities for selfies and photos.


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It all kicked off on Friday 9 June, as Mercury-Prize winning trio Young Fathers got things off to a flying start, delivering an emphatic set that was monochrome in appearance, but proved a riot in sound.

Like Young Fathers, Soulwax too opted for a set of limited colour, as they took to the Royal Festival Hall stage. Flanked with three drummers, the duo performed tracks from their latest album Deewee in a barrage of white light.


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Meltdown isn’t just about the music however, it’s also brought a number of installations to Southbank Centre. These included Propa Tee, an exhibition in our Archive Studio, curated by M.I.A, Remi Kabaka and Harris Eliott, which showcased 40 years of music t-shirts.


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Project Refuge/e was an exhibit of a more poignant nature. A tent-like shelter built from the same materials as those made available to refugees, it gave a first-hand sense of the lives of people who have been forced to flee Syria.


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Extending this tie to refugee life in the Middle East, Seenaryo’s Beirut Party enabled revellers here at Southbank Centre to join a gig attended by refugees of Syria and Palestine as it was live-streamed from Riwaq Cafe in Beirut.


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Not content with taking over the inside of Royal Festival Hall, Meltdown has also spread out onto Riverside Terrace, and in the weekend sunshine rocked to a distinctly Caribbean beat as Just Vibez Carnival took over with music, flags and phenomenal costume.

As the festival has spread outside, it's also brought the sounds of the streets inside, starting on Sunday night as french rapper MHD brought the Afro Trap sound he’s pioneered to Southbank Centre.


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And on Monday, this was followed up by something much more local, as Peckham’s own Giggs brought Grime to the Royal Festival Hall stage for a performance that had the press falling over themselves to give four star review after four star review.


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We gave the Royal Festival Hall a night off on Tuesday, but it returned with a bang - not to mention a hell of a lot of light - on Wednesday courtesy of Swedish rapper Yung Lean. The twenty-year-old from Stockholm delivered an incredible-looking show, for one of the festival’s youngest audience.


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Another night, another genre as Meltdown’s seventh day was headlined by a dancehall and reggae double-header courtesy of I Wayne and Dexta Daps.


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Beats were the order of the day on Friday; hip yet hefty beats as the festival’s second weekend kicked off with the lo-fi electro of Crystal Castles (above), before moving downstairs to keep the party going with a club night courtesy of Awful Records (below)


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Already huge in the US, where she can count such heavyweights as Beyonce and 50 Cent among her fans, Young M.A brought her everyday rap to the Royal Festival Hall stage for an emphatic UK debut.


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And on Saturday as with Friday there was no cause for the night to end when the Royal Festival Hall lights came on as once again Meltdown bounced on in the Clore Ballroom, where the stage alone wasn’t enough to contain Mykki Blanco during his gig with JD Samson.


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Quick shout out to East London community radio station Rinse FM who kept the festival vibe going throughout the ten days of Meltdown, broadcasting live from our Community Cube.


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But all good things must come to an end, and on Sunday evening Meltdown’s curator, M.I.A., took to the stage to bring the curtain down on her own festival, in her own inimitable style. Fences, dancers, confetti and stage invasions; it was a full-on performance that gave a fitting end to a Meltdown which M.I.A. had always promised would challenge convention.

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