While walking around Lost Lands and hearing from the festival's ravers, one thing was loud and clear: it has become unrecognizable in the best way.
New and improved Lost Lands festival grounds
It was astounding to see what Lost Lands' organizers have done with the festival grounds year after year. As someone who attended the first three years of Lost Lands and has not been back since the onset of COVID-19, the event was nearly unrecognizable.
It was immediately made apparent from the moment you step off the street and walk to the entrance gate. Before officially entering the grounds, attendees walk through a corridor speckled with life-sized dinosaurs, dinosaur eggs you can climb into, flowing waterfalls, volcanos that light up at night and more. It all served as an interactive photo op for friends, couples and festival squads to meet up and make memories.
From year one to now, this area has expanded dramatically. Instead of getting in an oftentimes long line to take a picture in front of the dinosaur welcoming committee, there are now enough photo ops to service 20 groups at once. While not only serving as a nice way to capture a memory with a loved one, strolling through this area helps you forget about the highway behind you and step back in time.
Beside the Lost Lands grounds and stages, there were also improvements made to the campgrounds and Village Marketplace areas.
The main festival grounds and campgrounds are separated by a country road. When exiting the festival and crossing the street into the campgrounds, you're taken to the Village Marketplace section of Lost Lands. This is a large circular zone surrounded by dozens of vendors selling clothes, jewelry, souvenirs, camping supplies and all different types of food.
In the center of this area is a space for activities and programming, a chapel made of dinosaur bones and a large stage for local and pre-party performances. In previous iterations, this campground stage was incredibly modest. But now it's been fitted with production that rivals many concert tours.
The Prehistoric Evolution
If you know anything about Excision, you know he always brings it when it comes to stage production. While every single year of Lost Lands had incredible stage production, they really outdid themselves this time.
Walking into Legend Valley, you're first greeted by the festival's signature stage, The Prehistoric Evolution. Constructed out of faux stone that looks like it was hauled off an Indiana Jones set, the towering stage is guarded by Lost Lands' largest dinosaur.
Some highlights from The Prehistoric Evolution include SVDDEN DEATH's dramatic, bone-crushing performance, Excision's annual two-hour welcome set, LSDREAM's colorful set, the Lost Lands debut of Knife Party, Subtronics' headlining performance that attracted nearly the entire festival and an eerie, atmospheric appearance by REZZ.
Also featured was the first artist to take the decks on the main stage this year, SWARM, TroyBoi, DJ Diesel, MARAUDA and many more. Closing out the Prehistoric Evolution was—of course—the man behind the mayhem, Excision, with help from Sullivan King for a special B2B performance on Sunday night.
The Wompy Woods
The second of the two "main stages," Wompy Woods was the most changed since the last time I explored the festival grounds. Rather than being surrounded by trees and pillars of light on both sides, the stage area has been opened and walkways have been added up to help the flow of people moving from the aforementioned stage to this one. This made it much easier to move from the two main stages for those who want to catch a little bit of two artists playing at the same time.
Aside from being easier to traverse, the space felt much more open with additional room to spread out and enjoy the music. The stage itself featured dino-sized LED displays that were crystal clear from the very back of the area.
Seeing as it is the Wompy Woods, the left side of the stage was lined by trees with colorful lights shining on them. Not only did it serve to immerse attendees in this space, but it also served as a chill-out zone for fans looking to lie back or sit while they take in the music.
Featured on this stage was one of the most influential dubstep producers to ever roam the earth, Rusko; Ray Volpe, the mind behind one of the festival's most played tracks, "Laserbeam"; the drum & bass legend Dieselboy; a rare bass festival appearance from Madeon and the melodic bass titan, ILLENIUM.
Fans were also treated to sets from Black Tiger Sex Machine, Virtual Riot, Kompany, Vampa, REAPER, Said The Sky, LEVEL UP, Boogie T, Eptic, Jessica Audiffred and more. On Sunday, Excision took the stage for a fan-favorite "Detox Set" wherein he played the weirdest and wonkiest music he could get his hands on while the sun set on the final day.
Smaller, more intimate stages
A welcome surprise to someone who took a year off, the Forest and Subsidia stages provided a place for fans to enjoy a multi-genre selection of big names and rising stars in a more intimate manner.
The Forest Stage ran from the early afternoon until the festival closed down each of the three nights. With large slanted panels, this bright stage lit up the secluded area amidst the trees.
On this stage, attendees found some wobbly, experimental bass, and it was the home for drum & bass fans at this year's Lost Lands. The Widdler, phonon, Papa Khan, Nurko and Tisoki lead the charge on the first night while night two featured a loaded arsenal of drum & bass and beyond from Pendulum, The Upbeats, FuntCase, IMANU, Modestep, Downlink and more.
Rezz On Grappling With Mental Health and Insomnia: "Nobody Knew What I Was Going Through"
REZZ appeared as a guest on KITTENS' "She/Her/They" podcast for a rare interview to discuss mental health, sexuality and the adverse effects of a grueling touring schedule.
This Innovative Smartwatch Comes With Built-In Wireless Earbuds
Owners will be able to push a button, triggering the watch's face to open and reveal the underlying earbuds.
Cercle's First 2023 Show Is at a 3,500-Year-Old Temple In Egypt—And You Can Attend
Adriatique will be performing an extremely rare set at the historic mortuary temple of Hatshepsut.
The final night of the festival was bass house-heavy and showcased Dr. Fresch, Habstrakt, Sikdope and many more.
In a private, somewhat secluded area on a hill not far from the Forest Stage was the Subsidia Stage, a space for artists featured on Excision's very own label. Here, attendees could check out music from Hairitage, Tape B, LICK, CYCLOPS and BLVK SHEEP, along with the artists featured on Excision's Bass Music Initiative: ZIZI, JVZMIN, Vastive, Dani Demand, RZRKT, Green Matter, The Arcturians and MIKESH!FT. ZINGARA and A Hundred Drums were featured on other stages.
When exploring Legend Valley it was hard to miss the Asteroid, a set of domes that came alive as the sun went down each day. Giant plumes of fire shot from the top, cultivating a moment of excitement and much-appreciated warmth during the chilly event. Packed in tight, festival-goers were able to get up close and personal with Shlump, Grabbitz, YOOK!E, SoDown and others late into the night.
The final stage, Raptor Valley, was only for the bravest Lost Lands attendees. This stage definitely not the place for bright, uplifting sounds and cheerful melodies.
Here, you found a collection of artists challenging each other to see how hard they could throw down. HEKLER, GRAVEDGR, Lil Texas, Darksiderz, MUERTE, SIPPY and Codd Dubz all brought their unique sounds to the stage, which only opened past 11pm. At Raptor Valley, INFEKT offered one of the most talked about moments of the festival when he had well over a dozen people on stage with him as he threw down a ruthless set.
Like the previous festivals, this year's Lost Lands had enough bass to take down a full-grown mammoth.
Everything you've heard about the sound at this event is true. When I got off the highway a few miles from the venue and stopped at a red light, the bass from Lost Lands was rattling my car so much I was able to hear it over my radio. Mind you, I was far enough away that I was not even able to see the venue at this point.
When speaking with attendees local to the very small town of Thornville, Ohio, the home of Lost Lands, they shared stories of the community getting together to embrace the large event. In the area surrounding the venue, you saw people gathering in their yards to have a couple drinks and have fun. It was clear that members of the community had embraced the fest after disapproval in years past.
The Most Immersive Lost Lands to Date
Excision and his team have curated an event that feels more like an adventure than a music festival. The biggest takeaway I gathered from my time at Lost Lands 2022 was just how immersive it has become.
It felt as though Excision and his ilk carefully combed every inch of the grounds and strategically activated the brand everywhere they could. Instead of rules written on a poster board, stones stating the code of the headbangers are placed throughout the festival, reminding you to take care of yourself and those around you.
It's little touches like this that really go a long way to help you suspend reality and accept that you're back in time.
Hosting the Forest and Subsidia stages was the Forsaken Forest. This was a large area rich with trees equipped with LEDs and lasers pointing at the treetops to create a labyrinth of light and sound. In this area, puzzle guides dressed in safari gear would welcome you to the space and introduce you to a quest you could complete to earn a secret reward.
Without giving too much away, this was a scavenger hunt of sorts that invited you to explore the grounds to look for special symbols that needed to be entered in the Forsaken Forest. It encouraged attendees to work together with their squad and those around them to figure out the mystery surrounding the beautiful space.
In addition to the Forsaken Forest, rumors of secret rooms in the festival grounds began to spread. These ended up being true.
There were multiple hidden exhibits for fans to stumble upon. Knowing nothing of these areas, I found myself standing in front of a robotic fortune teller and a few other confused attendees were invited into a room with shrines dedicated to a spiritual bass creature and their devotees.
I'll stop there in case it returns next year, but I encourage everyone to really get to know the grounds and go on an adventure in-between your favorite artists. And just like the rest of this idyllic bass music paradise, you never know what you might find.