The life of a headbanger isn’t easy. A lot of folks from other genres tend to cast a certain light over our beloved heavy bass. Finding well-produced and original material in our world doesn’t happen as often as we’d like. Artists & label bosses such as Excision, Datsik, 12th Planet, and SKisM do a good job of keeping the heat coming with albums and EPs from either themselves or artists on their label. But we don’t have enough all-bass gatherings here in the US. Festivals unanimously cater to the mainstream loving masses. We maybe get a bass stage off to the side, but never the main stage. Perhaps we get a bass artist or two up on the main stage, but the stage itself isn’t lined up front to back with heavy bass artists. Can you imagine it? A main stage stacked with heavy bass? What that would be like? Yeah, ‘holy crap!’ is right. Let’s take this a step further and ask, ‘What if the whole festival was heavy bass?’ I’m talking everything from dubstep to drum n bass. Can you see it? Well allow me to introduce you to Lost Lands Festival.
Any bass head knows of, and is very familiar with, Excision. Jeff Abel, the man behind the moniker, has been a pillar in the bass community since the beginning. His label, Rottun, has given us some of the original building blocks of underground dubstep dating back 10 years ago. Over the years, he’s produced numerous EPs and albums containing tracks that were produced alongside quite the variety of names in the bass community. He has performed at, if not, headlined many different festivals over the years. He does his own tours with custom stage designs that I’m sure most of us are familiar with. Consisting most recently of the Paradox tour and the Executioner prior to that. Simply put, the man’s a veteran and a legend; and a smart one at that. With all his years of experience, he’s gathered enough knowledge to know what’s what, the ins and outs, and the do’s and dont’s of not only playing a good set and putting on a good show, but also how to organize and set up what makes a good event as a whole. So that’s exactly what he did.
In fact, he took what was wrong with every other festival and made it right at Lost Lands. Like:
One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard over the years about camping is about the difference in location from where one’s car is parked, to their assigned campsite. Lugging all that gear across possibly muddy ground can be a nightmare (assuming you’re not one of the lucky ones able to get an RV for the weekend). Again, not the case for Lost Lands. Your car comes with you as apart of your campsite. Now with all of those people camping, getting to and from the camp grounds can be quite the hike. Again, you guessed it, not the case for Lost Lands. Jeff and his team organized the camping layout and location very well. And if you had a campsite at the very opposite end of the campground, fret not, there were golf cart taxis and pedal bike cabs everywhere running around the campgrounds. Once you’re all set at the campgrounds, time to hit the fest.
Common mistakes we’ve all seen include; not having enough of them, too far away, unkempt, out of supplies, and worst of all, pitch black inside. I am thrilled to say that none of those were the case for lost lands. Every bathroom I visited was well stocked with toilet paper (one of my friends even brought a spare roll from his camp site, knowing this is ALWAYS an issue at festivals), hand sanitizer, and a motion sensor light. Yes, that’s right. Goodbye to the days of using your smartphone flashlight and dropping it in the dark blue abyss below.
3. Long Lines at Entry?
THINK AGAIN! Jeff had over a dozen lanes fully staffed, zoomin’ people through to the ever-rumbling bass.
Just the name Lost Lands makes one think of a place long forgotten by civilization covered in lush overgrown vegetation. So, of course Jeff covered every piece of fencing with plastic ivy. So much ivy in fact, that he and his team had to purchase every single piece available at that time in North America. You could search online and not find a single piece available in N.A. because they had purchased it all! Combine that with the life-size and animatronic dinosaurs, all throughout the festival grounds and it’s as though you’d had wandered into a combo of Jurassic Park and the land before time! These T-Rexes, Brachiosaurus’, Velociraptors, Pterodactyls and Triceratops were custom-built in China and shipped over with directions saying they’d take weeks to put together. The Lost Lands crew did it in a mere 4 days!
Anyone familiar with Excision is familiar with PK Sound. Jeff has used PK Sound equipment on his tours dating back before the Executioner tour. Having a history like that with a such a company made it possible for Jeff to acquire every piece of equipment available in North America that PK Sound had to offer. Yes, you read that correctly. The total came out to 750,000 watts!! The original plan was 500,000 watts. Believe me when I say that this was a welcomed upgrade.
6. Stage and design
For those who came early, there was a pre-party in the grove at the campground Thursday night. That stage was Jeff’s Executioner setup. Inside the fest, the main stage was the Prehistoric Paradox stage set up, and the second stage (named Cave of Souls) was an Andrew Gumper* structure with stalagmites and stalactites all throughout the interior and fully video mapped on the exterior. (*same stage designer as the Sahara stage at Coachella)
7. Safety and security
Plenty of security, both hired concert staff and local police. Now, I know what you’re thinking. But I have good news. Nothing was excessive on either side. Heard no complaints of over the top intrusive searching, AND on the other end, there were 0 deaths and 0 drug related medical transports!! Well done bass heads. Can’t forget about Destroid literally setting the stage on fire. Such an emergency could possibly shut down a stage or even the fest for the night. Jeff and his Lost Lands team stayed cool calm and collected and handled the emergency with grace. No chaos, no running, no screaming just “Baby Steps”. The fire was extinguished in quick fashion, and with the fire marshal on scene, everything was handled properly and held up to code. Once he gave his approval, the music was back on and Zeds Dead brought us all right back. Which, by the way, was only about 40 minutes total of no music.
All in all, if you didn’t make it to Lost Lands this year, be sure to not make the same mistake next year. I wish I had more time (and reader’s attention span. Bravo to you who made it this far) to tell you all about the sets I saw and loved, but instead, I’m just going to highlight some my favorites:
Buku – Played Cave of Souls first night. Love his music and was really excited to see him play live. The man did not disappoint. Kept my feet movin’ the whole time.
Trampa – Played Cave of Souls first night after Buku. This guy came out with a force. Brutal is a very appropriate word for his set. I think this set is the reason i have weekly chiropractor appointments.
Space Laces – He closed out main stage second night, right after Zeds Dead (who also put on a magnificent performance). This was my #1. My top. Holy fucking shit. I found myself completely awe-struck during his set. Just kept saying “WOW”. This was my first time seeing him live, but don’t be mistaken, I’ve never heard a set quite like this. My dancing and head banging had ceased at multiple points and I found myself standing in pure awe and disbelief in what my senses were engaged in. His track selection, his transitions, his visuals and special effects, all combined together were unlike anything I had previously witnessed. I almost don’t even have words for it. “Unbelievable” is all that comes to mind.
Sullivan King – Played Cave of Souls the second day. I hadn’t heard of him before, but dammit, I wish I had. In an exclusive interview (link to interview), the man said it was his first festival performance and I’ll give it to him, he set the bar pretty high. With live guitar shredding accompanied with live singing/screaming, and of course, headbanging, he played an amazing set. The guy can really put on a good show and I’m looking forward to seeing more from him.
Excision’s detox set – This was mid-day on the last day at main stage. I was so happy when I read this on the schedule. And it’s just what I was hoping for. The softer, smoother, and melodic side of dub. Perfect way to start the day after the madness of the two (and a half) previous days.
Lost Lands Festival was more than an amazing weekend and a sight to behold. It was a masterfully crafted event we have all been waiting for. Do not miss it next year. This is it people. This has jumped up to one of the top land based festivals in the world (in my humble opinion). But remember, it’s not just the artists and the music and the set up. It’s the community. The family. Without that, none of this would be possible. Rock on bass heads, we’ll see you there next year.
Article by Barrett Hoffer
Photos by Ashlyn Fulton Photography