For the last 22 summers, the Southbank Centre has handed over its programming calendar to a class of people hardly famed for their organisational skills – musicians. Luckily the Meltdown guest curators (including David Bowie, John Peel and Yoko Ono) have always pulled through, making the festival an annual cultural highlight of the city.
This year’s Meltdown takes place in August and is curated by David Byrne. The former Talking Head is a ceaseless musical innovator who’s created everything from a musical about Imelda Marcos (‘Here Lies Love’) to an installation that turns buildings into huge musical instruments.
Scroll on down to discover who he’s picked for this year’s Meltdown festival line-up, and read our David Byrne interview to hear his take on a few of the biggest events at this year’s Meltdown festival.
Who’s playing at Meltdown festival 2015?
Her name translates as ‘star’, and that’s what Estrella Morente is in Spain. The daughter of flamenco innovator Enrique Morente, she’s now one of the leading figures in contemporary flamenco music and won wider global fame singing the title song from Pedro Almódovar’s ‘Volver’.Read more
Half of CocoRosie (with her sister Sierra), Bianca Casady launches her debut solo album in London with this live show. Whether it’ll stick to CocoRosie’s lo-fi avant-pop sound isn’t yet clear, but whatever the music sounds like, the live experience (a theatrical production in collaboration with choreographer and dancer Biño Sauitzvy) is set to be as cool and freaky as anything the Casady sisters have done together.Read more
Hooded dronemeisters Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson are back in town with the rest of their drone/doom crew for a set of devastatingly heavy, loud and hypnotic chords. The slow, crushing rise and fall of Sunn O)))’s rhythms has an awesome physical impact and makes for an unforgettable live presence. Show up early for an extra weird spectacle: Russian band Phurpa interpreting Tibetan throat music in spine-tingling fashion.Read more
Their quirky electronic pop was most popular in the mid-noughties when their jazzy song ‘Cosy in the Rocket’ became the title theme to ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, but cat-obsessed London duo Psapp are still very much a going concern. A new album is due this year and studio pics suggest that they’re still into home-made synths and plastic toy instruments, so their live return should be pretty magical.Read more
William Onyeabor is a lost hero of electronic music: a great synth pioneer who self-released eight obscure and excellent albums between 1978 and 1985 in south-eastern Nigeria. Since David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label tracked him down and reissued his records, he’s become a cult figure, and tonight a star cast of musicians and Onyeaborophiles – Byrne himself among them – will be performing his music live in London. This’ll be one of the year’s most joyful and funky gigs: don’t miss it.Read more
An eight-piece brass band of brothers from Chicago, the HBE have lent their tight, hip hop-influenced jazz sound to some huge names – Prince, Wu-Tang Clan, Blur – and recorded a handful of soulful albums on their own. Their high-energy, New Orleans-inspired live show is bombastic and funky enough to get even the coldest of cynics up and grooving.Read more
A charismatic young singing poet, Benjamin Clementine hails from Edmonton Green but was discovered while singing on the Paris Metro, giving him a chance to spread his heartfelt blues and deep soul vocals further afield. A self-taught pianist and eccentric but deeply affecting singer-songwriter, he has something that’s often spoken of but rarely witnessed: raw talent.Read more
New York-born musician Haden started out playing violin in grunge-pop crew That Dog and has also lent her bow to The Decemberists, Green Day and Tegan And Sara. As a solo act she’s best known for her series of popular acapella albums, and for her last set of live headline shows she was backed by a 16-piece choir to reinterpret film soundtracks. We can only guess at what she’ll bring to the Southbank.Read more