Most electronic music festivals in the UK have the same line-up. What differentiates a festival from its peers is the atmosphere that it manages to create. Even though this was Lost Village’s first year, the festival already had a distinctive and welcoming vibe. The line-up was cleverly curated and brought some legendary musicians such as DJ Koze, Four Tet and Kolsch to the Lincolnshire woods. It was beautiful, bizarre and brief – yet the weekend seemed to stretch on for eternity, and trust us, that was no bad thing.
Ordinarily when arriving at a festival, you’re gradually lowered into the warm fuzzy atmosphere and crazed crowd antics as momentum builds; leaving your troubles behind, at least for a weekend, as you set up along with several thousand expectant people. Arriving at Lost Village Festival on the Saturday was like accidentally stumbling unprepared into a timeless world, joining a 5000 strong tribe of kindred spirits for a collective dance in a mysterious woodland setting.
The organisers went heavy on the “themed festival” thing. Lost Village was more than a name for the festival. You were actually immersed in a make believe world. During the day you could bump in to strangely clad villagers, performing set pieces around the festival site. The stages had names like ‘The Ruins’ and were decked out accordingly.
Between performances, as dusk fell, throngs of people walked through the patch of woodland from one crumbling stage set to another, the tree canopies punctuated with multi-coloured balls of light, and questionably creepy props like caged human hearts and prosthetic human skeletons hung darkly from the branches. The lighting of the festival in particular added to the festival experience, driving home that sense of being lost in a magical world detached from the reality of everyday life. The themed element of the festival was never too intrusive, but ultimately we go to music festivals, for well, the music. And oh boy, there were some real treats here…
Up first was Huxley. Best known for bass-heavy house music, Huxley’s set mixed energy and a mellowness to ease people into an evening of heavy dancing. Following on from Huxley was Heidi, who has become a firm favourite here at Bizarre. After seeing her perform at Shindig in Newcastle earlier this month, we had high expectations. Heidi’s mix of techno and house drives so hard but never compromises on the quality of the music being played. Of all the artists at the festival, Heidi was the most talked about for us on the journey home on Monday.
Straight after Heidi, Dusky picked up the techno vibe. While a tad less sophisticated than Heidi, by this stage in the night what Dusky does best, deliver one great euphoric dance track after another, was all that was needed.
Walking towards the stage where Kolsch was playing was an unforgettable experience. Getting the briefest peak of the light show cutting through the gaps in the trees, whilst Kolsch’s unique mixture of EDM, trance and house rolled out across the night, made for a special moment. Between Heidi, Dusky and Kolsch, if you wanted to dance to euphoric dance music, there was probably nowhere better on Earth to be than in some woods in Lincolnshire on the first day of Lost Village.
Four Tet moved away from the techno thing but kept the good vibes coming. Cutting Indian and Caribbean rhythms into some of his classic tracks, Four Tet’s set was a tad less heady than what had come before but saw out day one with what can only be described with as incredibly happy music.
The line-up on Sunday was dominated by live acts in the early hours of the afternoon. Iyes drew in an appreciative crowd for their synth-pop that balanced energy and sympathy to some still-drowsy (and let’s be honest, hungover) heads. Of all the bands playing though, Tourist’s controlled outpouring of elegant, blissed-out jams, which had a modicum more soul than the line-up, stood out. Lovers of sad dance music unfamiliar with Tourist were left excited; existing fans left satisfied with new material and reworks of old favourites.
Ben Pearce, a name synonymous with the 2012 hit ‘What Might I Do’, turned the energy up a notch. The producer’s kitsch, fun set that was never quite as commercial as could have been expected, added a twinkle to the mid-afternoon sun. As ever with Lost Village, a bunch of neon clad Native Americans, a mime and a guy wearing a tulip suit were perfectly ordinary sights to see in the crowd.
As a DJ, Jackmaster has a reputation for eclecticism that is all about upping the energy levels. Fitting into that slightly award slot in the line-up where acts have to keep the vibe going for the headliners while making sure that they stamp their own mark on the festival Jackmaster delivered a high energy and highly accomplished set.
DJ Koze more than any other act over the weekend showed that electronic music deserves to be valued as an art. Over the course of two hours he went from playing premium quality German dance music to creating the mellowest of soundscapes.
This was music that you felt with your whole body, music that created the strongest of emotions. A case in point: DJ Koze’s set saw out the festival with a Sufjan Stevens track. The acoustic singer song-writer’s beautiful lament fitted perfectly with the mood. It was moments like these, moments of the unexpected, yet which fit so perfectly, that made Lost Village such an amazing experience.