Lost Village was nearly a perfect weekend. Now, while this may sound like I'm going in two footed, the reality is far from on it. If anything, much like Christopher Nolan films or every relationship I've ever been in, the festival is in a far better position as a flawed experience than a comfortably standard one. All it needs to do is tweak a few things and it will end up being an ideal start to the summer.
Our weekend started on terms a little too in keeping with the festival's name. I don't know whether the lack of signposts or scant knowledge of where anything was among the staff was a deliberate attempt from the organisers to give the punters the experience of being lost, but there was genuinely no way of knowing which stage was which until the Sunday when wooden posts finally appeared in the ground. You could buy set times and a map for a tenner, but even those were pretty indecipherable. For a festival with such a tightly packed and high quality line up (more on that later) to leave the majority of punters, staff and in some cases DJs not knowing where they were felt like a bit of an obvious oversight.
That said, on the subject of DJs, fuck me, what a crew. Every day's set times read like a who's who of the current dance scene, names like Leon Vynehall, Bicep, Fatima Yamaha, Roman Flugel, Ben Klock, Jackmaster, Floating Points and the ubiquitous Fatboy Slim were all wedged in so tightly together on the timetable it's a miracle the whole weekend didn't descend into some heavenly B2B in the sky. It was a collection of artists great enough to rival any other festival I've seen this summer, foreign or otherwise, including the much bigger players like Glastonbury, Dekmantel and Dimensions.
So it was a pretty massive shame then that for nearly every set the sound levels were so quiet. At one point, while watching Midland tear it up, I actually heard a group of people sing happy birthday five rows away in the middle of what was meant to be a pounding drop. Some stages were better than others, for example The Abandoned Chapel sounded relatively loud when you got closer to the front, as did the Outpost, but again it felt strange to have such a sweltering group of tune selectors then have them slave away on sound systems so timid you could hear a magpie cough in the neighbouring forest.
That's not to say that there weren't some golden moments though. Bicep playing Roy of the Raver's "Emotinium" or the dreamy Leon Vynehall playing a typically swoon filled set including the Herbert remix of Moloko's "Sing it Back" both stand out. Fatima Yamaha's whole session was pounding new age brilliance which ended with the whole crowd inevitably singing the melody from "What's a Girl To Do" like a football chant, and Fatboy Slim took everyone directly back to Creamfields '08 with a frankly ridiculous set during which he tore through every EDM banger of the last 10 years whilst pumping out more fireworks and coloured smoke than the past three Olympic opening ceremonies. Genuinely, I think the Fatboy mixed in "Eat Sleep Rave Repeat" about four times in the space of as many minutes, which was kind of fucking great, actually.
Shout outs are also due to the crowd, who were constantly lively, good-natured and swaying as gently as the summer breeze. As with every festival circa 2K16, most of them looked like a bus-load of Geordie Shore castmates crashing full speed into a hippy drum circle (sponsored by Wavy Garms (on ketamine)), but that didn't stop them from remaining friendly and up for a pilled up hug or handshake all weekend.
But it wasn't all about the music and rowdy punters. Lost Village paid a lot of attention to the other details. From the "zany" actors dotted around the place, to the woodland decor, to the extra curricular activities (like archery, fireworks and yoga), there was a nice mix of other things to entertain yourself with. The stages and forest area looked beautiful by day and night, with the centrepiece being the scenic lake located at the back of the site. We sat there for pretty much a whole Saturday, drinking incredibly expensive but delicious Grey Goose cocktails and roasting slowly in the tepid sun.
It was here we met Lorina and Mister Laneous, two of the many characters frolicking around the site at all times, whose main job it seemed was to try and send tripping punters spinning out even harder, which is exactly what they did to my friend who, face emitting rainbow beams of acid soaked delight, engaged in an hour long conversation with them both on the definition of techno. Yet as I watched their impossible chat unfold, sat with my premium cocktail, I was forced again to question what exactly Lost Village was trying to be.
It seemed the festival didn't really know whether it wanted to be a niche boutique festival, with hot tubs, fireworks, cocktails and lots of Tories, or whether it wanted to be an idyllic but act focused event like Dekmantel. It tried to go for both but didn't quite hit either target as fully as it could have. just focused on one or the other.
That's not to say it was a bad event. I had a lot of fun and have no doubt the only way is up for this young festival. It's only in it's second year so has a great platform to build on and become one of the best dance festivals of the summer. It just needs to get its priorities right. That and put up some signposts, cos y'know, I'm still in Lincolnshire guys. Guys?