The third edition of Lost Village, nestled deep in the Lincolnshire forest, promised much and uniformly delivered. Run by the team behind record label Moda Black, the 5,000 capacity festival offers an immersive, more wellbeing-centred experience than other dance music offerings. You could visit a spa; chill out in a hot tub by a beautiful lake; even eat a Hawksmoor-catered “tribal banquet”, if you had the appetite for it.
Arriving at the site on Friday afternoon, I’m struck by two things: the perfect weather, and the care and attention that’s gone into the staging. Although there’s a frustrating absence of signage (maybe the “lost” in Lost Village refers to the punters rather than the festival itself), when you do find the stages, it’s worth the wait. There’s the Burial Ground: with enormous, imposing scarecrows towering above the sound rigs; the Junkyard, featuring wrecked classic cars you can sit in or even dance on; and the Abandoned Chapel, comprising a derelict replica of a church. It’s enormously impressive; and when the sun sets over the woodland of the Forgotten Cabin, really quite beautiful.
Unlike the exceptional staging, programming this year was solid, but fell down on diversity. Multiple stages hosted practically all-male lineups, and there were barely any female headliners (excepting Nina Kraviz and The Black Madonna). This needs improving.
That said, most of my festival highlights involved women, or even girls. Teen experimental pop duo Let’s Eat Grandma were a Friday afternoon highlight: channelling Kate Bush at her best, they rolled around on the floor and twisted into abstract dance moves while performing from their debut album I, Gemini. Hot Chip closed the Chapel on Friday night with a thumping house set: closing with Caribou’s Can’t Do Without You, the crowd engaged in a good-natured sing-along as blue lights strobed over the trees.
Waking up relatively early (the music shuts off in the early hours of the morning, which means the festival isn’t too messy), I manage to catch the Are You Woke talk in the Institute of Curious Minds. I enjoy the discussion, which is packed full of salacious media industry gossip, although a little light on practical recommendations to improve your wokeness.
Saturday’s standout set comes from Avalon Emerson, who delivers a pounding techno-flecked session with just enough squelchy acid to keep this reviewer happy. Dropping her remix of Octo Octa’s Adrift, the crowd was raucous and delighted. I also enjoyed Call Super’s intelligent, thoughtful set, which wasn’t banger heavy but still kept the crowd engaged. Later that evening at the Forgotten Cabin, Ben UFO delivered a characteristically diverse set, with highlights including an amped-up version of Manicured Noise’s Metronome to David Temessi’s Let The Beat Control Your Body.
A real highlight came on Sunday afternoon, as up-and-coming Hotflush artist Or:La played an intimate set at the semi-hidden Bureau of Lost stage. Although the crowd was a little sparse, vibes were good as she dropped &ME’s recent release on Keinemusik, Avalon. Over at the Burial Ground, the mood was euphoric as Fatima Yamaha closed out his headline set while fireworks exploded on the lake in time to the bass and the crowd cheered. But for me the overall highlight of the festival was Midland’s evening slot at the Forgotten Cabin. Fresh from recent triumphs at NYC Downlow, Midland’s set was driving and relentless, and filled with unexpected classics from Kris Wadsworth and Booka Shade.
Although Lost Village may not appeal to more snobbish dance music lovers (all the artists were top-flight DJs, but regulars on the festival circuit—there were few left-field or really underground bookings), if you’re here for good tunes, ridiculously friendly security guards, an absurdly beautiful location, and a fun, non-sleazy crowd, Lost Village is the festival for you.