WORDS BY HOLMES PRICE
There were a lot of unknowns heading out the door to Lost Village, a brand new festival created by promoters, DJs and label owners Jaymo and Andy George. How would a first-time festival fair when four-and-a-half-thousand dance-music devotees descended on its cherished site? Would there be enough portaloos? Would there be enough staff at the bars? Would there be enough bars? What kind of mysteries awaited us in the enchanted Lincolnshire woodlands? Would I make my train because the first Uber cancelled and the second one was driving his giant Merc through East London like it was his only child, even though I told him I had a train to catch, yeah?
With so many questions, we headed off to find the answers, catching a cab from the Lincoln train station with two lads from Belfast who’d flown over just for the Village, and were already hungover having started their festival holiday in the airport bar at 4:30am. Classic. As we set up camp the fragrant flashbacks of festival sites came roaring back and a wave of elation washed over us as we cracked our first can and collectively sighed “Summer is here!”.
With the tinny sound of Bluetooth speakers providing the campsite vibes, we decided to head to catch Crazy P who were about to begin their set of thick disco grooves, kicking off with their band-member Hot Toddy’s remix of their 2008 classic ‘Stop Space Return’. P vocalist Danielle Moore serenaded the scene before Grandmaster Flash provided something of an odd mainstream hip pop wedding set soundtrack to the setting sun. And just as we’d been teased out of our tents, the Friday night drew to a close. With access to the main festival site off limits until Saturday morning, it was time to avoid the festival cliché of peaking too soon.
The Lost Village concept is that an abandoned woodland village was turned into a magical musical experience, but some of the former residents still linger between the trees. CTC had an exclusive behind the scenes look at the site before it was opened to the frenzied festival ticket-holders and with Blair Witch-style effigies hanging from trees, actors in Victorian-surrealist and hidden gems in the form of magic circles, plane wreckages and extravagant ambient lighting it was an immersive, if uneasy experience.
But we weren’t here for a pantomime – the lineup of world-class DJs far superseded the festival capacity and Saturday kicked off nicely with Citizenn bringing the Forgotten Cabin soundsystem to its knees with the first kick drum of the day. Cristoph followed by Walker and Royce took to the main Ruins stage, bringing chugging tech house to the tree folk.
UK festivals can often be defined by their weather and considering the time of year and location Lost Village struck sunshine gold. It was this, along with the unique surroundings and solid line-up that meant us Villagers felt like we’d stumbled into something very special.
Once Greg Wilson had lured us into a disco delirium the scene was set for Erol Alkan to take on the Forgotten Cabin’s Funktion One rig, now a favourite among the CTC collective. Opening with Charles B & Adonis’ ‘Lack of Love’, acid was the theme of choice and on that system the trip was unforgettable. Later Tiger & Woods took to the Abandoned Chapel for a chopped-disco sonic sermon. We made our way to Four Tet (at the Forgotten Cabin, duh) who brought his unmistakable record crate of other-wordly vocal house, techno and acid, wrapping up with a Chinese-language banger (genre on the rise?). A fitting ending to Day One: nothing was as it seemed deep in the Lincolnshire countryside and the Villagers were lapping it up.
As is often the case, Sunday was a slower start. Intoxicated on the immersive Lost Village experience (and booze), the campers were slow to rise with the light rainfall giving everyone the excuse for a lie-in (it’s possible I was projecting this particular ambience). Once Australian producer and DJ Young Franco took to the CDJs at Basecamp, commanding the sun out from behind the clouds with his M1-heavy, vibe-soaked set, all was good again at the Lost Village. It was long before the Forgotten Cabin lured us back for festival-founders Jaymo and Andy George’s set. Every now and then Andy would freeze, look up with a look of ‘holy-shit-I’m-DJing-at-my-own-festival’ on his face, before snapping back into shoulder shimmying on the drop. It was a charming moment, and a reminder of what the duo had achieved with Lost Village.
Back at Basecamp, Jonas Rathsman’s disco set was an up-close-and-personal affair with Kano’s ‘Are You Ready?’ and Koxo’s ‘Step By Step’ keeping the ever-growing crowd moving, while Rathsman played perfectly into the Air Piano DJ stereotype. This type of intimacy was common throughout the weekend and added greatly to the experience, something I hope Moda keep in mind for next year’s festival. The scene was set for the finale and with Jackmaster’s deep techno set still ringing in our ears, we made our way to Leon Vynehall at the Abandoned Chapel. Definitely a highlight, luscious synths and samples weaved together over booming basslines as Vynehall effortlessly hot-swapped between styles and sounds. It was big, bold and brilliant. We swung by the mainstage just in time to hear Annie Mac round the weekend off with Caribou’s crooner ‘Can’t Do Without You’.
Lost Village wasn’t perfect. The mainstage sound was disconnected from the crowd, while every area got noticeably quieter on Sunday, possibly down to licensing issues, complaints from surrounding forest dwellers or hearing-loss. The security was unnecessarily confrontational at times, further highlighted by the fact that most villagers were relaxed and respectful to the site and each other. But the vast majority of Lost Village was a triumph. Moda now have an important decision to make – keep the numbers low, the setting intimate and the lineups just as strong or open the doors wider and expand on the concept. We know which we’d prefer but either way, Lost Village 2015 was one of those ‘I was there’ moments. And the summer’s only just begun.