‘The Outside world just isn’t the same’, reads the bio of a recent post from Lost Village festival’s Instagram account. As prosaic as this marketing slogan may sound, those who experienced the sobering struggle to re-integrate into the real world soon after the festival will relate.
Lying within the sleepy Lincolnshire village of Norton Disney, this festival is imbued with treasures in every corner. Whilst its main strip is structured in a slightly more conventional way, gourmet food vans and wacky bars aplenty, the real magic can be found off the beaten track. Dense woodlands, illuminated by nuanced hues of production and fairly lights, play host to an immersive selection of stages.
Disorientating night-time adventures within a colour-draped forestry explain the true meaning of ‘Lost’ Village – it’s easy to go astray, to lose yourself. But that’s exactly what people are here for. To escape the grinding tedium and relentlessness of Western society. To lose their self-awareness while covered in glitter and neon paint. To become totally immersed in the wilderness with their friends, where your only compass comes in the form of distant glistening melodies from hidden raves.
Unlike the ever-homogenising monopoly of Live Nation-controlled festivals, Lost Village prioritises originality and authenticity ahead of trying to please the masses. Namely, its lineup is again heavily conceptualised – revellers expecting the bill to sprawl across a wide spectrum of genres and scenes may be underwhelmed.
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The focus remains on cutting-edge indietronica and nuanced house. The ethereal Maribou State have been booked here several times over the years - this year they reach the festival’s summit, having bagged the Saturday night headline slot. While it’s a shame their early house-centric material is completely overlooked, the heady mix of tracks from their most recent two albums flows seamlessly.
The two-piece’s featuring singer Holly Walker, who also performed a solo set earlier in the day, crystallises around half the performance with her flawless voice opposite a crowd sprayed with confetti cannons.
Bicep are another who have climbed to the top of the Lost Village ladder over time. This year they unleash a euphoric DJ set, showcasing a mixture of the best and most overlooked modern techno and house.
As the swirling synths of Simian Mobile Disco’s ‘Tangents’ become ever more visceral, you only have to stop and look around you to gauge the bubbling sense of community within the audience. Whilst Lost Village’s onus very much remains on electronic artists with DJ/synth setups, the Sunday lineup features a handful of acts with more conventional ‘full band’ setups.
The Orielles are the first palette cleanser of this nature on a sweltering hot mainstage. Their ability to swoop across time signatures and styles rapidly is extremely engaging – not even the guy waving a prosthetic leg inside the audience is enough to draw attention away from the Halifax lo-fi rock outfit. ‘Sugar Tastes Like Salt’ is exactly the sort of haywire slab of experimental rock needed to charge fans up for the festival’s closing day.
Black Honey, a four-piece with similar garage-rock sensibilities and vintage influences, follow with a less expansive set – but with hooks that hold a similar earworm nature. But like any high-standard boutique festival in 2019, Lost Village is about much more than just the music. The wide variation of worldy food stalls means that eating is as much about discovery as the music is.
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One stall that massively stands out is the Żubrówka vodka tent. A host of cocktails are on offer – ranging from hangover-soothing Bloody Mary’s to subtly sweet Apple Pie Martini’s, all served with super smooth Bison vodka and in the company of an atmosphere-stoking in-tent DJ.
It’s the perfect tonic for a sunset lakeside lounge, before the final delve into the glowing night-time forestry. Upon entering the leafy and secluded Forgotten Cabin stage as day turns into night, 박혜진 Park Hye Jin’s hypnotic house is perhaps the most inspiring find of the weekend.
While sparse and minimalistic, the South Korean’s darkwave grooves are incredibly moreish. Tunes like ‘Ahead Of Time’ and ‘ABC’ are dreamlike and psychedelic, with a contagious sense of elation that washes over the audience. Quintessential stuff for fans of deep house and exploratory electronic music.
Jon Hopkins, one of the most ambitious artists in ambient techno right now, concludes the final night with an otherworldly DJ set at the brand new and interactive Airbase Stage. While he intricately blends such tracks as ‘Emerald Rush’ and ‘Singularity’ with a variety of beats and soundscapes, we board the full-sized airplane parked opposite the stage.
We’re welcomed with beaming smiles from fellow ‘Villagers’, who each make space for us to join the on-board shenanigans. Upon clambering out of the plane, stopping to admire the dazzling swathes of strobe lights bleaching the trees, the only other source of light sparkling down from the stars above, you realise that both the beauty and Glastonbury-strength sense of community here is in a different league.
Most festivals have at least one flaw or logistical weakness, but here the only complaint is that you’ll probably end up missing more of its treasures than you’ll see – there’s that much to explore. In a world rife with division, Lost Village is the utopia we need.
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Words: Jordan Foster
Photo Credit: Andy Hughes
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