Walking through Lost Village’s campsite on Thursday afternoon, it’s as if normality never went away. Tents topple on one another, as campers fight for patches of grass; greeting friends with hugs and handshakes. Wine bags begin to pour into camping mugs, reusable plastic cups are filled with lager, and smuggled in spirits are mixed with flat fizzy drinks. No one’s face is left without a smile, and the year-delayed celebrations are in full swing from the minute the village’s gates open.
Such anticipation seems to be shared by the DJs too, many of whom have been unable to play live for more than a year. Clubs may have opened recently, but festivals offer a theatrical environment in which fans can stumble across their new favourite selectors; meaning the return of weekends like Lost Village are as important to them, as they are to the crowd.
Bank holiday weekend, despite Carnival’s absence this year, always supplies an array of events for music lovers. Lost Village battled with veteran dance festivals like Creamfields, which is over 20 years old, and newer places like All Points East for ticket sales. Regardless, the weekender sold out before the line up was announced; showing people’s hunger to party in a field again.
Sitting somewhere between Secret Garden Party and Houghton, Lincolnshire’s wiggy weekender is known for its flamboyancy and focus on the world’s best DJs. In 2019, this created a space where people of all walks of life could come and be themselves, or whoever they wanted. 2021, similarly, was without prejudice. Those who had worked hard in their bedrooms from 9-5 for 18 months were allowed to reinvent themselves; taking on roles that didn’t involve zoom calls and swamps of spreadsheets. Some came dressed as dominos delivery drivers, whilst others carried fairy light laced ironing boards all weekend: the volume of fancy dress left us feeling uncomfortable in our comparably normal outfits, which stood out in the frenzied terrain.
Christening our several adventures to the old zoo, which was new for 2021, Sama’ Abdulhadi’s throbbing four-to-the-floors jolted Thursday evening’s crowd into life; giving them a taster of what was to come over the weekend. Daniel Avery and Haai carried on the thumping festivities with a fiery b2b, which had to be locked off because of capacity issues. Luckily, we managed to stay for their set, but others were strictly turned away from what became the night’s highlight. Lost Village did feel over populated this year, with several cues to enter stages. When you go to a festival, you should be able to see whoever you want; that’s why you pay so much for the ticket. Unfortunately, this was not always possible over the weekend.
Another drawback from Lost Village was its strict noise curfew. On the Friday, after Chaos and the CBD and Octo Octa rattled the roof off junkyard, Palms Trax’s set became noticeably more quiet from 12 AM. Following visits to Air Base and the Forgotten Cabin, we realised this was the same for all stages. Weirdly, DJ Boring’s set on Saturday night only became fainter for 15 minutes. Before then, his tech house and garage blends had people jiving into the early hours of the morning; leaving people happily unable to have full-blown conversations without shouting into each other’s ears.
Beyond the curfew, whilst the sound systems were allowed to breathe, Lost Village had the most tremulous rigs we have experienced at a festival. Floating Points took full advantage of Burial Ground’s bone quivering subwoofers; transporting fans to a different galaxy with his emotive modulations and brazen broken beats. We had waited two whole years to hear ‘Bias’ descend onto a sound system of that quality, and it sent people completely bonkers. Such an accomplished audio-visual experience continued when Four Tet took to the main stage for his first festival DJ set in a long time. Mixing tracks as disparate as Gunna’s Sky Box, the Sugarbabes’ Overload and his own remix of Eric Prydz' 'Opus', (real name) Kieran Hebden showed how DJing can be true artistry. Unsurprisingly, he delivered the weekend’s best set, in spite of playing at the same time as Ben UFO, who apparently sent air base into outer space
The clashes continued into Sunday too, accentuating the profile of DJs on display at this year’s Lost Village. Caribou, Call Super and Shanti Celeste all found themselves competing for punters in the evening, but it was the former who we ended up placing our bets on. His kaleidoscopic live show has only been enhanced by the standard of recent album ‘Suddenly’, which provided some of the set’s most memorable moments. Golden yellow spotlights, vivid pastel smoke and schizophrenic strobe lights sucked the crowd into a vortex of blissful electronica; leaving them entranced by the entanglement of instrumentation on display. ‘Cant Do Without You’ encored the performance; leaving us completely satisfied by the weekend’s shenanigans. However, Honey Dijon was about to take no prisoners over in the junkyard, with a three hour set of unapologetically groovy Chicago house slammers. Refracting off hanging CDs, the coloured lights lit up the forestland in a magical way; complementing Dijon’s flawless blends of funkiness. Danny Krivit’s Re-Edit of ‘Strings of Life’ went down particularly well, as did KDA’s remix of her own track ‘Not About You’. Journeying fans through the history of Black music, playing out techno, jazz and gospel, the performance illustrated Honey Dijon’s ability to maintain a crowd for a long period of time - a power very few DJs can safely admit to possessing themselves.
Despite overselling itself, Lost Village gave festival goers a weekend they won’t be forgetting for a while. If they want to step up in the future, and rival the likes of Creamfields, Andy George and Co will need to expand the site and maintain its avant-garde approach to the festival experience, especially with the return of Secret Garden Party looming. However, for as long as Four Tet is willing to visit Lincolnshire; new stages are added with the same craziness as the others; and people are willing to come dressed in their mystic fits, Lost Village will remain one of the country’s coolest dance music festivals.