Lost Village 2018
Clash gets lost in the woods…

It all seemed a bit labyrinthine at first. Jeez, what’s the name of this stage? Where’s that one? But it quickly becomes apparent that this is part of the appeal of Lost Village, and, in any case, the site is pretty compact, so you figure things out quickly.

Lost Village is a euonym. It feels withdrawn, and it’s a place that draws you in like a will-o'-the-wisp to get lost down light-bulbed paths with the odd creepy doll hanging from a tree or tissue paper abstraction, except it’s got the conviviality and community spirit – and bunting – of a particularly raucous village fête.

It’s escapism, a place where you can sit in a hot tub next to the ‘Lake of Tranquillity’ (the setting for an apotheotic firework display), eat at a banquet and do yoga, and where you can get down to some stonking music. It was the latter which appealed most.

There was a bit of a disconnect on the line-up between those playing at the Burial Ground (the main stage) and the acts on the rest of them. The former was sometimes badly attended, though the same could be said for most early slots across all the stages, which was a shame when it came to those like Kojey Radical who brought so much energy.

Kornél Kovács played a very long, crowd-pleasing set at the Junkyard, a space decorated with baths you’d find at the tip, metal ephemera and beat-up sports cars on and in which people jumped, rocked and took snaps. All very Instagrammable.

Over at the Forgotten Cabin (notice a theme?), from Optimo some maybe expected a slightly more interesting set, although they did end with what sounded like Slayer’s ‘Angel Of Death’.

Next was Ross From Friends with perhaps the set of the weekend. “Oh, you only like him ‘cos he has a guitarist.” No… But his set did seem possessed of a greater emotional depth. It felt warm and enveloping, and it was absolutely rammed. That was probably also because Mall Grab was on next, although it maybe also speaks to the relevancy of Friendly Fires.

The tiny Watcher’s Holt plays host to secret sets all weekend. Word got around that Peggy Gou would be there on Saturday before her later set and it was predictably full, with shoes (including an inflatable flip-flop) aloft. Windows legend Mr Scruff is noticeably eclectic among at-times anonymous sets, and OR:LA’s is equally inspired. Helena Hauff is gritty, abrasive and intense.

At the Burial Ground, it transpires that Mount Kimbie in a band format are quite Stereolabby, but their intricate, looped electronic sprawl still gets an airing. They’re followed by Four Tet. It wasn’t clear beforehand whether this would be a live set or a DJ set, but it turned out to be the latter. The result? Much more energy and vibrancy. Over two hours, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Selena Gomez, Nelly Furtado, Ariana Grande and Neneh Cherry all make appearances. There’s a bit of drum ’n’ bass, some of his own material and so much else. His mum watches on from the side, glance flitting between her son and the adoring crowd.

Then it’s over to Ben UFO, who deftly covers the old and the new, the obscure and the familiar, falling back on heady bass music. By extension, it was great the way the bookers put credence in younger, emerging talent (especially given the sometimes-macabre mise- en-scène) alongside the old guard.

It was unfortunately back to reality on Sunday for this reviewer, but for those who stayed in the rain, there was sure to be lots going on. Ditto for the early birds on Thursday. Of the set lucky enough to have been there, most probably stayed the whole time and a handful had doubtless been before. And on the strength of this year, it’s not hard to see a) why it always sells out and b) why it’s fast emerging as one of the UK’s top boutique dance-orientated festivals.

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Words: Wilf Skinner

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