Lincolnshire is quiet and Lincolnshire is quaint, but this Bank Holiday Lincolnshire was neither of those things. Lost Village Festival returned to its leafy surroundings and delivered a truly enviable roster of artists and comedians. From Nina Kraviz to Midland, Loyle Carner to Reginald D Hunter, the secluded lands of Lost Village provided a stellar lesson in how to festival.
One of the most striking things about Lost Village is its attention to detail. Whether it be the mystical festival narrative that runs throughout – which was played out by freakily eerie professional actors – or the unique staging which saw The Junkyard play host to abandoned cars and a fully-functioning (and free) amusement arcade, you had to admire the effort that had gone into detaching the festival from reality.
In addition to the spates of forest retreats and daily talks about the music industry, weary revellers could take time out and relax by the aptly named ‘Lake of Tranquility’ – that held a spectacular firework display on the final night. Lined with hot tubs, a yoga retreat and a Tribal Banquet tent – which hosted Michelin-star dinners – it is safe to say that Lost Village nailed the often misinterpreted non-musical facets of festival life.
The opening night saw Phantasy head Erol Alkan break in The Junkyard to a crowd somewhat bewildered by their entrancing environment. He then migrated to the centrepiece Burial Stage, where he demonstrated his penchant for track manipulation before 2manydjs closed the night with an assortment of intriguing picks such as Francis Bebey’s ‘Coffee Cola Song’.
I feel as though Lost Village was tailor-made for Hunee’s unrelenting selectorship, and late on Friday afternoon he did not disappoint. Having become a solid bet for a good fucking time, Hunee took to the Forgotten Cabin Stage and played out his eclectic best. Littered with characteristically obscure Afrikaans, disco and acid numbers, a thronging crowd bounced tirelessly beneath the canopy. Having sampled some of disco’s best, Mercury Prize-nominated youngster Loyle Carner then proceeded to give The Burial Stage a lesson in enigmatic hip-hop and rap, all done with an infectious energy and impressive lyricism – bearing in mind that last year he played Lost Village to a crowd of five compared to this year’s thousands.
There was also an assortment of quirky stage alternatives for those taking a break from losing their heads to disco-infused beats deep in the forest. There was the Hay Bar for example, which offered cheesy pop and hay bales as a nostalgic yet popular alternative – Robbie Williams’ ‘Angels’ being the pick. Throughout the day there was also a tent dedicated to comedy, the most popular choice being that of Reginald D Hunter – whose attraction caused the tent to overspill. Similarly, the ‘Curious Minds’ tent offered interviews and talks with figures integral to the electronic music scene, with Nina Kraviz’s insight into growing into different genres a firm favourite.
Saturday saw Mall Grab playing out his own ‘Pool Party Music’ in what was a punchy set in The Junkyard, whilst during the day the Norweigan trio Tuvaband wooed crowds perched on abandoned cars and in disused baths with their enchanting melancholy vocals. However, let us talk about one Laurence Guy, who opened proceedings at midday to a sparse crowd at The Abandoned Chapel. Testament to this guy’s (pun intended) strength as a DJ, he swooned his way through a captivating set atypical of a Church signee and soon swelled a receptively boisterous crowd. Enter Move D early on Saturday evening. As Hunee had done the day previously, he handed out a masterclass in disco and house cuts, which culminated in playing Guy’s infectious recent release ‘I Saw You for the First Time’ – which D then held aloft to an almost tearful crowd-bound Guy.
The usual Celtic suspects were also in tow for Saturday evening, with an unusually flaccid Bicep set being followed by a lacklustre (not a word I would ever have associated with the ‘King of the North’) Jackmaster – which called into question some of the stage choices, as the main Burial Stage seemed to diminish a set’s intensity at times. Nevertheless, the enigma that is Denis Sulta played arguably the set of the festival. Rightly staying away from dodgy trance selections, his seemingly bewitching grasp over the crowd – Scottish flags on show of course – was embodied by Pryda’s ‘Muryani’ and the The Ones’ classic anthem ‘Flawless’.
With such a great roster of talent, there was bound to be some frustrating clashes – but as options go, having Nina Kraviz and Gerd Janson playing midnight sets in remote forest locations wasn’t too shabby. Janson was said to be spectacular, whilst Nina left her heavier side at home and let her selections sway the forest. Theo Parrish’s ‘Falling Up’ (Carl Craig Remix) was an iconic selection that drew people past her often rushed transitions, but it is her innate ability to shepherd crowds from one intense high to the next that was her shining light.
Sunday’s affairs were gently broken-in by Christian Loffler, whose seductive melodies on a sun-kissed Forgotten Cabin Stage drew smiles from all. From tender beats engineered in a log cabin in remote Sweden, to soulful classics from an animated Robot Wars presenter, Craig Charles was in the house and played out a Junkyard special.
Unfortunately, Max Cooper’s renowned atmospheric selections – which would have been perfect for a woodland setting – were drowned out on the Burial Stage. His successor Fatima Yamaha however, utilised the setting to reel off an impressive set that saw one of the moments of the weekend as his track ‘Araya’ coincided with the festival’s spectacular fireworks, whilst ‘What’s a Girl to do?’ was of course, incendiary. However, it was Moderat – on their final UK appearance before disbanding – who produced a phenomenal performance which kicked off with the imposing ‘Running’. Their trademark trippy visuals captivated as they ran through their discography with ‘Rusty Nails’ and ‘Bad Kingdom’ evident picks, closing their set to the euphoric ‘Versions’. These guys really were different gravy.
Euphoria soon turned to enchantment as punters reluctant to realise it was the final night filtered into the forest to be bewitched by Dixon and gyrated by The Black Madonna. The former unloaded a three-hour journey that mesmerised with Arabic cuts and melodic techno infusions – Marc Romboy’s ‘Trapped in an Orbit’ entranced – engineering an infectiously alluring atmosphere which seemed apt as a festival farewell.
I have found that one of the most honest markers of whether or not an event is a success is achieved by observing the stewards. Never have I seen as many stewards engaged in cavorting to dance music as I did at Lost Village, and I think that is one of the most telling signs of any, that Lost Village really nailed it this year. The attention to detail was supreme, the location idyllic, the food unrivalled and the music diverse and truly exceptional. Lost Village wholeheartedly succeeded in creating a lost musical paradise. Well played.
Words: Samuel Asquith
Images: Lost Village 2017 / Fanatic